“We were played. We’re all pasties.” – Willow
“You are talking crazy-person talk. Put your words in word places, please.” – Buffy
“Vampires are lurks. A spin is a lie. Toy is bad, but spled is good.” And thus begins Fray 101. Joss does a bit of catch-up in this issue, for those who are silly enough not to have read the Fray TPB already. Other critical bits of info include the fact that Melaka Fray has a twin brother named Harth. Mel has the physical powers of a Slayer, but Harth holds the prophetic memories of past Slayers in his mind. Unfortunately, he’s a vamp — er, that is, he’s a lurk. Mel also has an older sister, Erin Fray, who’s a cop. And a pet spider monkey demon named Gates, which she acquired in a story from “Tales of the Slayers” … which is also when she found the Watcher Library that she currently lives in. And she has a merman associate named Gunther, who sometimes sends her out on thieving jobs.
And that’s the Fray universe that Buffy is introduced to in this second installment of the Whedon/Moline “Time of Your Life” arc. As for what actually happens …
After a rewind, we learn that before encountering Buffy last issue, Melaka Fray was on the trail of a powerful dark-haired mad woman, who is working with Harth, who has lived for centuries, and who speaks in riddles. Early on, we suspect who this might be. Or at least I did. And honestly, I don’t think Whedon was trying to hide it all that much. Of course it’s Dark Willow. But knowing that doesn’t really tell us anything about the whys and hows. How is she still alive after all this time? Why is she working with vamp — um, lurks? Why did she orchestrate things to bring Buffy to the future, including manipulating her own past self? Is this connected to the falling out Buff and Will had back in the Whedon-penned “Anywhere But Here” issue (#10)? Is Dark Willow really doing something dark, or is she trying to fix something dark she did in the past? Will her actions prevent this One-Slayer Future from happening? Or cause it to happen? So many questions!
Meanwhile, in the present, as Willow in New York pieces together what’s happening, Xander in Scotland deals with the aftermath of the magic missile that Warren dropped on Castle Scooby, which has everything glowing green, and which seems to have propagated a legion of “medieval cobra-faced foot soldiers”. Xander gets injured in the ensuing melee, and in what is a decidedly ignominious moment for Centauress Dawn, she carries him away from the castle and into the woods on her back. Which actually makes me like Dawn a little more than I already started to in the Japan issues. Let me tell you why …
Recently, because of Dr. Horrible, I’ve been listening to “Once More With Feeling,” the Buffy musical episode. And without a doubt, my favorite (non-sung) line in that ep is when Buffy says, “Dawn’s in trouble? Must be Tuesday.” And that really summed up Dawn’s existence pretty much right to the end of the series. And when Buffy Season 8 started, and we saw that she was a victim of a curse, we all pretty much thought, “Of course. Must be Tuesday.” But I see now what Whedon’s plan was all along. Make her look like a victim, but then gradually let her embrace the very thing that makes her one, and use it as a source of power instead. The result — Dawnzilla terrorizing Tokyo. And this time around, with the centaur thing, she manages to find the strength of her “curse” after only one issue.
Buffy the Show always worked best for me when it dealt in metaphors about growing up, and the metaphor here is almost transparent. Dawn is a teenager, and therefore she’s a freak. We all were. That’s what being adolescent is all about. But with any luck, teenagers find a way to transform their insecurities and secret shames into talent and power and strength, and that’s how they become adults. My guess is that once Dawn has completed her third transformation, and becomes “normal” again, she’ll miss being a freak, and may even be very sad. But hopefully she’ll realize that the freak is inside her, and will remember how to roar. Because THAT could end up being a very interesting character.
Is it just me or did they really amp up the future speak in this issue? I don’t remember it being nearly that bad in the Fray series. I had trouble myself a few times trying to figure out what she was talking about.
Also, maybe this was just me as well but I thought they were trying to make us think it was Drucilla in the shadows the whole time. I was actually shocked it was Willow.
Seeing Fray again makes me really want her haircut. Is that weird? Haha.
Oh oh! I forgot to mention my two favorite parts.
1. The face Buffy makes when Fray tells her there’s “Half” a slayer now.
2. Buffy realizing she’d been standing over glass in a dress. “Orange polka dots.” Haha I loved it.
Jill, they were definitely trying to telegraph Drusilla. Dark-haired madwoman who speaks in riddles and strange voices…lived for centuries? I gotta say, though, my first thought was Dark Willow, but as I continued to read, I thought it might be Dru….to the point where I was also surprised when it WAS Dark Willow. Still hope we get Dru, but I can’t wait to see how this works out with the Willows. (After all these years, I still enjoy using “Bored now.”)
And, yeah, the future-speak was definitely more future-y. Abbreviated. Txt-y. Than it was in “Fray.” I didn’t read “Tales of the Slayers,” though. So the spider-monkey was new to me, too.
My favorite exchange was:
Fray: Buffy Summers.
Fray: Buffy Summers is dead.
Hm. Although it makes perfect sense in hindsight, for some reason Drusilla never crossed my mind. I guess because on some level, the whole time travel plot line, and Present Willow’s knowledge of “time echos” and all that, planted the seed in my head that she would be responsible for the time traveling. And then there’s even that scene about halfway through where Present Willow literally says something like, “This is my fault,” and then the very next scene is the shadowy madwoman from the future talking. To me, that seemed heavy-handed. But again, in hindsight, I’m surprised Dru didn’t at least occur to me as a possibility.
Another line I liked is after Buffy goes over all word translations, she says something like, “The English language has really gone downhill. I should have treated it better.” Which I almost feel is a line being spoken by Joss himself, as an apology for all of the ways he plays with language in his dialogue.
As for the future-speak, A) Joss probably beefed it up a bit for the sake of contrasting with present day speech, and B) what we read in Fray is probably toned down for the sake of not driving the reader crazy, the way movies will sometimes give you subtitles for a foreign-speaking person for a few lines, to make the point, then start doing everything in English after that.
……and B) what we read in Fray is probably toned down for the sake of not driving the reader crazy…..
Too bad Juno didn’t get that memo.
RE: “This is my fault.”
That jumped out at me when I read it…. the second time.
RE: “I should have treated it better.”
Yeah, and she even says it under her breath, right? I definitely got that impression that it’s Joss speaking through Buffy. That was fun.
Also, I love that whole last paragraph in the recap, GB/RP. It’s what made “Buffy” great, and so much more than a Demon of the Week show.
Michael, Ok at least it wasn’t just me. Now I guess I’m just surprised Willow didn’t come into my mind at all especially since you two thought of her. (And yes, Bored now is one of my favorites)
Geekboy, I didn’t notice the “This is my fault” thing at first but it does make sense now. Though it doesn’t go right to the future after she says it, it goes to the mayhem at the castle. I guess I just really wanted to see Dru again.
You’re right, my memory was totally off. It’s ages after “This is my fault” before we ever see the Dark Willow character. Maybe what I was thinking of was the page where Fray says, “They say the madwoman’s power reached through the ages and changed her,” and then the very next panel cuts to Willow saying, “This is how it goes down.”?