Fray is an eight-issue comic book limited series, a futuristic spin-off of the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Written by Buffy creator Joss Whedon, the series follows a Slayer named Melaka Fray, a chosen one in a time where vampires (called "lurks") are commonplace in the slums of New York City, and the rich-poor divide is even greater. Volume one is drawn by Karl Moline (pencils) and Andy Owens (inks).
The series was published by Dark Horse Comics beginning in 2001, with delays between the first six and the final two issues caused by Whedon's TV commitments, during which Moline illustrated Route 666 for CrossGen Comics. After the series' conclusion in August 2003, a trade paperback collecting the whole series was also published by Dark Horse. In a short video promoting the charity Equality Now Joss Whedon confirmed that "Fray is not done, Fray is coming back. More than that, I will not say. This was reiterated in 2007's Comic Con where Joss stated that he "absolutely would be returning to that world. Fray next appears as a main character in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight crossover story arc, "Time of Your Life", by Whedon and Moline.
The series was closely linked to the concurrently airing seventh season of Buffy, with coinciding depictions of the Slayer's mystical scythe and her origins, a major contributor to the expansion of the canonical "Buffyverse" in which Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other related stories are set. Melaka Fray also appears in the story "Tales", by the same creative team as the series, in the anthology comic book Tales of the Slayers.
The story is about a Vampire Slayer of the future named Melaka Fray and her discovery of what being a Slayer means.
It has been centuries since the last Slayer was called. Demons were banished from the Earth at some point in the 21st century by an unnamed Slayer and her friends, and the Watchers' Council has descended into a group of crazed fanatics. The vampires however, now dubbed lurks, have returned and haunt the city. In order to combat this threat a new Slayer is called: a professional thief named Melaka Fray. With the Watchers' Council ineffective, a group of "neutral" demons send the demon Urkonn to prepare Melaka Fray for the war that is sure to come.
Although training hard and feeling confident, Mel finds herself out of her depth when she fights a vampire she once encountered in her youth, named Icarus. Years before, Icarus had severely injured Mel and killed her twin brother, Harth. However, Mel discovers that Harth was not actually killed, but after being bitten by Icarus, he bit back and fed off the vampire, becoming a vamp himself. Since he was the Slayer's twin, he had had the visions and instinctive knowledge that should have been hers- he knew what Mel was long before she did, and also knew how to become a vampire.
Disheartened, Mel refuses to fight, until she discovers the body of her young friend, a mutant girl named Loo, with her neck snapped. Determined to avenge her, Mel rallies the inhabitants of the slums to fight against the Lurks. Mel's older sister convinces some of the local law enforcement to also join in the crusade.
As the battle begins, a giant dragon-like demon flies over the scene. This, Urkonn tells Mel, is the gateway to the demon world, and thousands more demons will be born from its womb. Mel falls into the creature's mouth, and manages to kill it from inside by stabbing its brain. She climbs out of the creature's eye and again encounters Harth, who is riding on its back. His plans foiled, he kisses her on the mouth, and runs away.
The world is safe, but one more order of business remains -- Mel tells Urkonn that she knows a Lurk couldn't have killed Loo -- they couldn't have got into her flat uninvited, and would have drained her blood, not snapped her neck. She knows it was really Urkonn who did it, hoping to inspire her to fight. Having figured out that her demon mentor can't swim, she drops him into a pool of water and stabs him in the head.
Melaka returns to her former life of crime, while at the same time killing any Lurks she finds. In another world Urkonn's superiors state that he will be stricken from history for his failure to kill her after she stopped Harth, and start to discuss their plans for when Harth tries something again.
Fray's scythe was featured prominently in the final three episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the television show which shares the same fictional "Buffyverse" as Fray. Buffy Summers, also a vampire Slayer, found the scythe embedded in rock in Sunnydale. The scythe was later used to channel power into creating fully developed Slayers of the many Potential Slayers. It has never been stated as to how the scythe travelled from Sunnydale, California to New York City (or Haddyn as it comes to be called) through the centuries, or who had it during the interim (or how they got it), since it was not the Watchers who gave Melaka the weapon, but Urkonn. However, in Angel: After the Fall a time shift caused by Illyria showed Spike in Haddyn carrying a duplicate of the Scythe. Whether this takes place before or after the events already covered is unknown.
In Fray it is also explained that sometime in the twenty-first century, "a Slayer, possibly with some mystical allies, faced an apocalyptic army of demons. And when it was done, they were gone. All demons, all magicks, banished from this earthly dimension," and the Slayer, whose fate is unknown, was the last to be called. In the tenth issue of the Buffy Season 8 comics, a demon prophesies that events are leading towards "The death of magic", suggesting the possibility that the battle mentioned in Fray will be seen in the series.
Discussing her connection to the Slayer line, Urkonn tells Melaka, "In your dreams, you're someone else. A slave. A princess. A girl in school in a sunlit city." The scar Fray has and her personality resembles Buffy in the alternate universe created in season 3 episode "The Wish". In the canonical comics, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight, one of the Slayers is shown to be reading a Fray comic, a minor in-joke to fans of the series.
In Angel: After the Fall issues #3 and #4, Illyria's growing instability in Hell-A causes multiple 'time slips', which momentarily bring Angel and Spike to Haddyn, complete with futuristic garb and flying cars. Angel is shown visibly aged and Spike is shown standing in front of Spider, who has lost her head.
Fray is seen on Jo Chen's cover for issue #16 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for which penciller Karl Moline returns to draw the futuristic Slayer, beginning a four-part crossover arc named "Time of Your Life" written by Joss Whedon. In the storyline, Buffy travels to the future to meet her future successor and discovers that her best friend Willow Rosenberg has become an immortal sorceress in the future who apparently would betray her.