Back in February we learned that Buffy Summers, more famously known to the world as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, will be facing the realities of abortion in the comic book series Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9. Today we learn that there are more big changes on the way for Buffy and the Scooby Gang in BtVS Season 9. The comic book series will feature the introduction of a new vampire slayer … and for the first time ever, this slayer is male. And how can there possibly be a male vampire slayer when only females can be slayers? Well, apparently, it turns out that gay males can turn into vampire slayers, too. Click below to get your first look at the first ever male vampire slayer and learn more about how he will come to be.
After Joss Whedon’s cult favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air in 2003, that didn’t mean the end for the “Buffyverse,” as it’s know. No, Season 8 took up with the Buffy comics, published by Dark Horse Comics, and a series of graphic novels and comics have explored the history of the Slayer line. Needless to say, it has had a healthy fanbase that has continued to follow the slayers as they battle vampires and all sorts of otherworldly creatures. Now, Season 9 has a new plot twist and character: Billy, the first male slayer. Oh, and he happens to like guys. If you know the mythology of the Buffyverse, then you know only women can be “called” (chosen by fate) to be a Slayer, so how is it that a gay boy is getting a chance? Jane Espenson, who has been involved with Buffyverse for quite some time—working as a writer and producer on the television show and co-writing several comic book stories for Tales of the Slayers, Tales of the Vampires, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight—has collaborated with Drew Greenberg on this project. With the news last week that she was also working on a digital comic based on Husbands, we wondered, Why Billy, and why now? “Billy actually predated the idea of doing a Husbands comic,” Espenson explains. “I already knew Cheeks, and he has a line in Season 1 of Husbands, that Brad [Bell] wrote, that really struck me about how Cheeks has an “exotic femininity” that’s equated with weakness. I thought, Gee, all the work we’ve done with Buffy is about being female, and how that doesn’t mean that you are lesser. It suddenly struck me: If being feminine doesn’t mean that your’e lesser, then liking guys also doesn’t mean you’re lesser. For very good reason, we’ve focused on the female empowerment part of Buffy, but I wondered, Did we leave something out? What if someone in high school is looking up to Buffy as a role model, and we’re saying: You can’t be a Slayer.” But doesn’t the mythology dictate that only young women can be a Slayer, you might wonder? As Espenson explains: “Batman doesn’t have super powers. He wasn’t gifted with an exotic foreign birth. So we take the Batman route; Billy is earning the Slayer mantle.” Fans may recall that Espenson and Greenberg worked together on the Buffy television show from Season 6 through Season 7, but this is the first time they’ve collaborated on a comic together. Greenberg says that Billy is about a young man who finds strength by standing up to vampires (a metaphor for bullies?) and defining who he is going to be rather than letting others tell him who he should be. “Billy is someone who sees a need in his hometown and steps up to fill the void, even at great personal risk,” says Greenberg. “He may not have the actual powers of the Slayers, but he’s determined to be his own kind of hero, one who’s sort of modeled after those who do have the power, and he sets out to make due with what he has. In the process, I think he hopes to follow the lead of all the strong, powerful Slayers who came before him and live up to the standard they set” … Espenson is not overly concerned about the critics who have said that the inclusion of gay characters into comic books lately—namely Kevin Keller in Archie and the wedding of Northstar and his boyfriend Kyle in X-Men—is just a cheap ploy for new readers. “We’re hardly pandering when we make a comic book,” Espenson says. “There’s always growing pains when making progress, but I think cycnicism in the face of inclusion may not be a profitable route in making progress.” Greenberg hopes that fans won’t be confused by the introduction of a male Slayer—”It’s a very honest, very sweet story (well, a sweet story with a fair amount of death and mayhem, but still sweet!) about a young man who wants to be a hero”—and thinks it’s something that fans can relate to. Plus, Greenberg thinks it’s a positive way of empowering young gay men. “I have no problem telling a story about a boy who’s always felt more comfortable identifying with what society tells him is more of a feminine role. So much crap gets heaped upon us as gay men — crap from straight people and, frankly, crap from other gay people — about how it’s important to be masculine in this world, how your value is determined by your ability to fit into masculine norms prescribed by heterosexual society and, sadly, co-opted by gay society as a way to further disenfranchise and bully those who don’t meet those norms,” Greenberg says. “And those attitudes are a reflection of not just our own internalized homophobia, but of our misogyny, too, and that’s something I’ve never understood. So if this is a story that causes people to examine traditional gender roles and think of them as something more fluid, I’m thrilled.” It turns out that the story doesn’t revolve around just one gay character but two. And, as Greenberg adds: “I hope people read this and, in the grand Buffy tradition of seeing archetypes in entirely new roles, realize what I’ve known for years: That nerds are totally hot.”
Wow. Just when I thought that Buffy the Vampire Slayer couldn’t get any better … IT GETS BETTER (pun intended). Altho Willow Rosenberg will always be the most famous gay character in the Buffyverse, until now … all the gays have been female. I welcome the addition of Billy the Vampire Slayer wholeheartedly. I love that they didn’t go the obvious route with his story and say, Gay guys have feminine qualities so they can develop female slayer superpowers. By making Billy a self-made slayer, they have made this character even more of a hero. I know that a lot of fans of the BtVS TV series are not avid readers of the BtVS comic book series but I really feel that they are missing out. The story of Buffy and her friends (and foes) continues in very exciting (if sometimes outlandish) ways. I can’t wait to read Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #14 … I cannot WAIT to meet Billy the Vampire Slayer myself!