In a season already rife with hot button and headline-grabbing topics, Dark Horse's "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 9" is adding another buzzworthy wrinkle to Joss Whedon's universe of vampire-killing: a Slayer who is both gay and a man.
Announced in a feature for Out Magazine, fan favorite writers Jane Espenson and Drew Greenberg will introduce new Slayer Billy to Buffy's world in December's issue #14 of the canonical series. The writer explained that the idea came while working on her "Husbands" web series. "I already knew [the character] 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," Espenon said. "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."
In Billy, fans won't get a total revision of Buffy's longtime standard that only women are empowered with vampire-killing abilities. Instead, Espenson promised the young man would train himself to slay a la Batman - a character arc that allows for metaphorical responses to bullying.
"Billy is someone who sees a need in his hometown and steps up to fill the void, even at great personal risk," Greenberg said in the story. "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."
Asked about whether the introduction is chasing the trend of high profile gay characters in everything from Archie Comics to the X-Men, Espenson said, "We're hardly pandering when we make a comic book. 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."
For more with both creators an an additional look inside the series, check Out Magazine and stay tuned to CBR News for more on "Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 9."