What Is It?: "Fray", a trade paperback collecting all eight issues of the miniseries. Written by Joss Whedon.
Timing: Safe to say it doesn't fudge up the continuity of any other Buffyverse series. Though takes a wrecking ball to "The Jetsons."
REVIEW: Joss Whedon's "Fray" is exactly what I've been looking for; a tale set in the Buffyverse that's long enough to satisfy my need for a Whedony tale. While the Buffy: Season Eight comics are great (9/10 for the most part, in my humble opinion), the issues that have been released so far are choppy, mostly because they, unlike "Fray", are the OPENING chapters of a larger story. "Fray" is standalone, and it's tells a great tale that, listen up continuity freaks like myself, is canon.
The story, like any Joss comic, is integrated with a few non-linear scenes. In the case of "Fray", this helps the narrative flow immensely. The flash-backs into Melaka Fray's past make the impact of the big-surprise-twist in the story very effective, and just adds to the entire emotional wallop. And quite a wallop it is. I've never, as of yet, been brought to tears by a comic, but I can say that "Fray" almost brought me to the misty-eyed point. The combination of stupendous characterization, an epic story that has huge (and very relatable) themes, and beautifully quirky art just make this item a great overall package.
Some of the finer points are Melaka Fray herself, who is a much more likable slayer than one Buffy Summers, who can be--at times--a bit annoying with the whole "You don't understand my suffering, so I can mistreat you attitude." Don't get me wrong, I love the Buffster, I'm just saying that it's great to meet a more... erm... lighthearted Slayer. Her, Loo, Urkonn, even the villains are so well done that I find myself aching for a sequel, or perhaps a movie adaptation.
This trade paperback (or 'graphic novel', for you uppity folks) isn't only for fans of Buffy, Angel, and Joss Whedon. Anyone who has an open mind for fantasy will pretty much enjoy this eight issue miniseries, if not for the sheer beauty of the volume.
Art: Stunning. Karl Moline's pencils do a beautiful dance across the thin line that separates REALISM with CARTOONY. The colors are bright and, as I said before, quirky, which reflects Melaka Fray's personality. The fight scenes are handled well, as is everything else; Moline manages to do something that I've witnessed many artists struggle with. He makes "ugly" characters (there are a lot of those here) adorable by bringing out their personality in their expressions. It is so very clear how closely he and Joss collaborated to make this project what it is.
Characters We Know: Think it's safe to assume that the Scoobies and the Fang Gang (or is it Angel's Avengers? Sorry, Spike) have all turned to dust by this point.
Rating: 10/10 Classic.