Created/Written: Joss Whedon
Pencils: Karl Moline
Inks: Andy Owens
Colors: Dave Stewart & Michelle Madsen
Letters: Michelle Madsen
Chapter Three: Ready, Steady...
Page 01: We're in flashback territory: A shop owner is shouting after a pair of thieves - Mel and the boy (Harth?) who climb up some pipes to make their escape. The boy is complaining that Erin's going to be pissed when she finds out they stole some meat. He slips and falls, calling for her....
Page 02: Holding the pipes with her legs, she reaches down and arrests his fall before he can splat to the ground. Hauling him up by the ankle - clearly an indication of her Slayer strength - even so far as whenever this was (she's at least a few years younger than in the 'real time').
She sees a lurker face with a tatoo over a bald head and wakes up screaming.
Urkonn hovers over her with a "Time to train" scaring another scream out of her.
The interesting thing, is that the lurk figure in her nightmare is Icarus!
Page 03 & 04: Mel and Urkonn take off, but he's complaining that she isn't training. She tells him that if she doesn't deliver the statue she stole to Gunther he'll kill her ass. He tries to tell her that she shouldn't be wasting time with what she used to be, but she takes exception to this. She's willing to kill the lurks he wants her to, but it doesn't mean she's not 'running' anymore.
Urkonn is finding it very strange that she doesn't instinctively know her significance and the lack of Slayer dreams is bothering him. She blows this off and tells him to just explain what she's supposed to know....
Page 05: Urkonn gives the history of Earth and the rise of humanity from a world in which demons and magic thrived.
Page 06: He gives the history of the Shadowmen and the creation of the Slayer line.
Page 07: Urkonn's lesson is interrupted by their arrival at Gunther's. Urkonn takes an immediate disliking to standing on water, while Gunther isn't thrilled with Mel's a) being late and b) bringing visitors.
Page 08: She explains to Gunther about the lurk in the museum, but delivers the statue of a fat man with a snake coming out of his mouth to him. They begin to haggle over the price.
In the meanwhile, Erin and her partners are illegally listening in - she's upset to hear Mel haggling with Gunther over the stolen statue, having wanted so badly to be wrong.
Page 09: Mel and Gunther come to terms between pages, and as she leaves she complains to Urkonn that he's growling like an old fridge. He tells her that he doesn't trust her fishman.
In the meanwhile, Gunther has his guy-Friday report to the client that he's secured the bobble he is after.
Page 10: Mel leads Urkonn to an abandoned building where they can begin her training. He reports to her that he'll throw stuff at her, she needs to avoid getting hit - it's simple dexterity training.
She fails to move and gets knocked on her ass with a girder to the face.
Page 11: While Mel recovers, Urkonn goes into more depth on the history of the Slayer heritage, but despite training her now, he denies that he will be her Watcher. He also states to her that his reasons for helping her are his own.
Commentary: I like this demonic character, but I don't understand why he wants to help her either. Considering who his 'bosses' are, it's a bit hard to trust him completely.
Page 12: Urkonn points out that her bleeding has stopped. She asks him to tell her about her immediate predecessor.
He tells her that he doesn't know much about her - no one does, he claims. Only that she was faced with an army of demons and when the final battle was over, she was missing and so were all of the demons on Earth. Since all of the demons were lost from the dimension, no other Slayers were called - until now - which coincides with the return of the vampires.
Commentary: It isn't made clear here if we're talking about Buffy or a future Slayer as we only see the last Slayer in shadow backlit by mystic firelight. It also appears that the final Slayer may have disappeared through another of those annoying portals. I'll issue a tiny spoiler here by confirming it is Buffy - but for what it is all about, you'll need to read "Time of Your Life" in the S8 series ... or wait a bit until I get it reviewed.
Page 13: Urkonn tells her that even though the line of Slayer continued, none were called or trained because there were no monsters for her to fight. He tells her that the Watchers Council fell into ruin until only the insane and fanatical were left. He tells her that she met her Watcher the day before... the man who set himself alight.
Fray, "Okay. I'm supposed to fight the coming onslaught of lurks and I'm being taught by a sarcastic goat-thing whose idea of training is throwing scrap metal at me because the actual good guys all went crazy waiting for the monsters to come back."
Fray, "Just checking."
Urkonn warns her, despite the setting himself on fire thing, not to discount the Watchers. After all, they were right, the monsters have made a comeback.
Meanwhile, we see Icarus strolling down a castle passageway....
Commentary: I like the interactions between Fray and Urkonn and I really want him to be a good guy in demon disguise - not like he'd be the first one - because he'd make a really entertaining Watcher for her. I do kind of want them to get along with it, though....
Page 14: Icarus brings his master the snake-puking statue-man. Icarus reports that Mel was confronted by the lurk he had sent to spy on her and she was able to fight him off expertly. He also reports that according to Gunther, she was accompanied by something not human.
The mysterious master says things have started moving faster than they expected....
Page 15: Returning to her apartment, Urkonn and Mel find Loo, who's hung out there because she was picked on. Mel worries over her having a freak out over Urkonn's appearance, but Loo just says hello and goes about her business.
Page 16: After she's comforted her, Fray decides to escort Loo back to her parents' tavern. She invites Urkonn along, but suggests he wear his hood up.
Page 17: In the tavern, Urkonn is going through the ways to kill a lurker. Melaka wants to get out into 'the lowers' and start cleaning up the neighborhood, but she's interrupted in her plans by Kettie Rawls - a forty-two year old cyborg that was the picker-on-er of little Loo....
Page 18: She starts a bar fight which Loo thinks is the coolest thing. Urkonn tries to tell her that this isn't really being helpful....
Page 19: But she takes the bar brawl as good "training". Until, that is, she gets punched by a woman with a cyborg arm attached.
Page 20: Breaking through another wall - she hits out in the street a bit hard -
Suddenly she looks up at a shadow falling over her and starts to panic, stating she isn't ready for this....
Page 21: Looking down at her is...
The thing that apparently killed her brother, Harth, from what we've been able to piece together.
The Good: The artwork remains strong.
The arrival of Icarus to confront Mel should make the strands start to come together, now.
The bits with Icarus and the involvemtn of Gunther remain interesting - especially since I'm getting an idea that the mysterious, unseen master is going to turn out to be Harth - but we'll have to wait and see....
The Bad: I'm starting to find the Urkonn/Melaka scenes sort of sitting in idle. Hopefully Icarus arriving to confront Melaka should move things along.
Other Thoughts: I think that this series could have been excellent with a bit of editing - like down to seven chapters instead. The Urkonn/Melaka and Melaka/Loo scenes seem to just be ambling along without adding much to the overall story now that we're three issues in. I'd like things to get to some sort of point - but it looks like next issue will take care of doing just that.
The Score: Even though I'm feeling a bit antsy to get moving on the main plot, I still find Fray's world to be interesting. I like the tidbits about possibly Buffy's final battle, but I wish there weren't so many scenes of Urkonn or Loo just chatting, chatting, chatting - all of this could have been covered in the first two issues ... 3.0 out of 5 stars.