As Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended its TV run a few years back, Joss Whedon and company broke the rules of the show's mythology to create an army of Slayers to back up Buffy. Now the Buffyverse rules are being broken yet again to bring us a Slayer who's not just male, but gay.
The 14th issue of Dark Horse Comics' Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine, hitting stores next month, will introduce Billy, a young gay man who becomes a vampire Slayer and defends his hometown from bloodsuckers.
Billy is the creation of former Buffy TV writers Jane Espenson and Drew Greenberg, who talked about the idea of bringing a gay male character into the Buffy fold for years before finally making him a reality.
"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," Espenson said. "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 how can Billy be a Slayer, a role always filled by a female who is called by fate to have the strength and skill to hunt the vampires? Well, according to Greenberg and Espenson, Billy's what we might call a Self-Made Slayer.
"Batman doesn't have super powers," Espenson said. "He wasn't gifted with an exotic foreign birth. So we take the Batman route; Billy is earning the Slayer mantle."
And as for critics who might call this another publicity stunt in the wake of both DC Comics and Marvel Comics stories revolving around prominent gay characters, Espenson and Greenberg say they're not writing this for the critics. They're writing this for the fans.
"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," Greenberg said. "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."
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Nine #14 hits comic book stories Oct. 10. Check out a Georges Jeanty variant cover featuring Billy, along with two pages of interior art, below.