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Fray is an 8-issue comic book mini-series about a futuristic spin-off timeline of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe. Characters and the setting from Fray also appear in the Buffy season 8 comic book series. The series is notable as a detailed description of the future of this universe, and for the first appearance of the Slayer "Scythe" later seen in Buffy S7.
Melaka Fray is a daring cat-burglar in the city of Haddon (Manhattan) in the 23rd century. It's a world of soaring spires, flying cars, and grim slums in the city depths where the sunlight never reaches. Many of those who live there are mutants, the result of the failing ozone layer, pollution, etc. The most dangerous are "Lurks", who never venture into daylight.
Fray's older sister Erin is a police officer who tries to persuade Fray to give up her life of crime, pointing to the disappearance of Fray's twin brother Harth as an example of the risks she's taking.
Fray has no idea that she is a Vampire Slayer until a Watcher arrives to tell her; unfortunately the Watchers are now a cult, since there has been no Slayer or demons since the 21st century, and he sets fire to himself after telling her since he does not feel worthy. Fray attempts to save him but fails. She has no idea what a vampire is, and dismisses him as insane. Later she is approached by Urkonn, a demon who tells her more about the Slayers. She doesn't believe him at first because she has none of the Slayer dreams he describes, but is gradually persuaded. As she starts to learn more it becomes apparent that lurks are vampires, led by Harth's abductor, Icarus. Eventually she learns that Harth is now a lurk and has the dreams Fray missed, and is leading the Lurks towards opening a dimensional portal which will allow a demonic invasion of Earth. Urkonn's goal is to stop this, not because he wants to help humanity but because his demonic masters aren't ready yet.
Fray still isn't whole-heartedly in the fight until her friend Loo, a mutant child, is murdered. At this point Urkonn gives her the Slayer Scythe (later seen in BtVS S7), telling her it's a weapon made for the Slayer. She sets out to convince the other humans of the area that the Lurks must be destroyed, and eventually proves that they are demons. A gigantic monster arrives to open the portal to hell, swallowing Fray who destroys it from the inside while Erin fights Harth. With the monster destroyed Harth escapes into the shadows.
With the fight apparently over, Fray confronts Urkonn, having realised that he must have killed Loo. He admits that he did it to motivate her; she immediately attacks him, and eventually kills him, ending the series.
Fray returns in Tales of the Slayers a collection of stories describing Slayers from many eras. In the framing story Tales she steals a box guarded by Lurks, and opens it to find a four-armed ape-like creature which grabs the Scythe and leads her to the Watchers' library, where she learns more about her predecessors.
She is seen again in the BtVS S8 comic story arc Time of Your Life when Buffy travels to the future; a "madwoman" tells Fray that if Buffy returns to the past history will be changed and Fray's whole timeline will have never happened. Despite this she defeats Fray and returns, killing the madwoman, a future version of Dark Willow, to escape. Fray's world continues to exist as the story ends.
Reactions to the series were mostly positive.
Storyline aside--and it's really quite a good story--the artwork is amazing. I mean it was seriously beautiful. I loved the character of Fray and the whole storyline involving Loo was really moving. Plus super-fun Joss Whedon style twist inside. --- Izzybella (The Straight Dope)
Joss Whedon. A slayer. A scythe. A watcher. Witty dialogue. Some vampires. A prophecy.
Sounds familiar, huh?
How about we throw flying cars, mutants, and a whole bunch of the future into the mix? Suddenly, things seem a bit different. This is the world that Melaka Fray, our eponymous slayer, lives in. As similar as the basics of her life are to Buffy’s, the fact that her story is set hundreds of years in the future isn’t what makes Fray original; Mel is very much her own person, and this is very much her own story.
And damn it’s good. --- Patrick Shand (Popmatters)
There's a bit of the tendency that dragged down Buffy Season 8 here. "We don't have a budget! We can do ANYTHING!" Which is fine, until they did everything, and the actual story suffered for it. It's kept together much better here than it was over in season 8, though. Possibly because this was just an 8 issue mini. This is good by me, because the core story is pretty good, and certainly better than the Twilight arc turned out to be. --- Sesana (Goodreads review)
It’d be a shame if the character were never to return. Melaka Fray is one of Joss’ finest character creations and the future setting gives any new stories featuring her, a great deal of possibilities. There probably aren’t as many folk clamouring for Fray 2 as there are Avengers 2 but we’re here. Based on this book, it’ll be worth the wait. --- James Stansfield (Den of Geek)
- Nice Coat... Where'd You get it? by lycanfae (2006): Fray meets Spike.
- Frayed Life by elementalv (2004); "Melaka Fray needs a Watcher. The Powers that Be oblige her."