Unbelievably, as of this second issue, we are now halfway through the final comic book season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Luckily, though, the comic book still feels big and still delivers in an impressive way. At the end of the previous issue, the gang was transported to the future thanks to Illyria’s leftover time travel abilities. Buffy comes face to face with Whedon’s future slayer Melaka Fray once again—as the two previously met in season eight—while her vampire brother attempts to bring about the apocalypse in the present. Spoilers ahead for anyone who has yet to read the issue.
Considering that Fray has never had a direct continuation or sequel, with her only appearance outside the original book being a short story and the season eight crossover, it is amazing to be flung back into that world. Throughout this entire issue, we are reintroduced not only to Fray herself but to her entire supporting cast. It feels like catching up with old friends.
It’s complicated, possibly even convoluted, balancing a dozen different characters. In that respect it feels entirely faithful to Buffy. It’s a credit to the entire creative team behind the book that it feels so much bigger and grander in scale that it actually is.
For the entirety of this issue, the main characters are walking through the future of Fray and reacting to it. If there’s any kind of downside to the issue, it’s this, as readers have seen this future landscape and its characters twice before and are clearly familiar with it. While it makes complete sense for the characters to comment on this situation, it takes the reader out of it if they’re already so familiar.
Both of them know that they’re not alive in the future, but they react to that realization in very different ways. Spike just wants to know how it happened and how he went out, while Angel doesn’t give it a thought, saying that however it happens he’s sure he deserved it.
There’s still plenty of action to be found within these pages, but it’s reactionary and all frontloaded to the opening, as Fray—who has had less-than-stellar experiences with Buffy in the past—greets the gang with a punch first attitude.
Ultimately, the major reveal of the issue is that the person who’s survived the extinction of the slayer line and the banishment of most demonic forces from the earth, in addition to simply surviving for hundreds of years in general, is none other than Harmony. By this point in the comics, this should come as no great shock, as Harmony has been given more and more to do over the past decade of comic storylines. She’s cemented herself as a somewhat accidental major player in the Buffyverse of late. Harmony is a character that can—and, it seems, will—survive pretty much everything.
While Harmony’s appearance in the issue is great and the surprise is perfect just from the reaction it gets from the other characters, her role here is mostly to pick up the ball and continue the exposition from where it was left off in the previous scene. There’s a lot of explaining going on in this second issue, but it’s still told in a mostly interesting way. And, in general, it’s necessary in order to thrust us forward into a rapidly approaching, no doubt action-packed conclusion.
WICKED RATING: 7.5/10