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The Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic series, for those keeping score, is halfway through season 9. And to shake things up, Jane Espenson is bringing in Billy, a gay male Slayer!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer concluded its seventh and final television season almost 10 years ago, but luckily Joss Whedon and his writing team weren’t done with Buffy and the Scoobies, and Dark Horse offered them a chance to continue their story in comic book form. After training an army of Slayers and bringing about the obliteration of magic in season 8, season 9 sees Buffy, Dawn and Xander trying to rebuild their lives in San Francisco.

This year we have parted ways with Spike and Willow (who are each getting their own spin-off series), but a new character will be arriving shortly to help fill the void: a male Vampire Slayer named Billy. Yeah, we were shocked, too!

Seeing as how Joss Whedon’s number one reason for creating Buffy the Vampire Slayer was to turn the defenseless girl stereotype on its head by making the slight blonde cheerleader the thing monsters had nightmares about, what business does a male have being a Slayer?!

Buffy comics Billy Vampire Slayer season 9 gay male

Initially, fans were upset by the news, not only because having a male Slayer lessened the girl power message of the entire Slayer concept, but also because it seemed like he could only be a Slayer because he was gay, and therefore considered effeminate.

But speaking to Out Magazine, Buffy writer (and creator of the online comedy Husbands) Jane Espenson clarifies that this is not the case. Billy, who will make his debut in issue #14, is not an actual part of the Slayer lineage. He is brought into the series as a fan of Buffy’s work, who decides that he can be a Slayer despite being male.

Espenson further explains that Billy represents a different kind of femininity which the TV show didn’t get the chance to explore. “Billy actually predated the idea of doing a Husbands comic,” she says, referring to the recently announced spin-off comic of the online comedy which Dark Horse will also publish. “[There was] a line in season 1 of Husbands 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.’”

To combat this, Espenson explains, she wants to offer Buffy fans another example of feminine empowerment: that of the effeminate male who is also physically dominant. “If being feminine doesn’t mean that you’re lesser, then liking guys also doesn’t mean you’re lesser,” she says. “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?”

As any Buffy fan knows, of course, Billy can’t be an actual Slayer no matter his sexuality or personality, because Slayers must always be female. And don’t worry, Espenson recognises this fact. Speaking to io9 following the shocking reveal, she confirms that he will not possess actual Slayer powers. “He is a hero, Batman-style, who has taken up this mantle on his own,” she clarifies.

Fellow writer Drew Z. Greenberg adds that by writing in this male Slayer character, they are not saying that gay men are necessarily feminine, but they are making a point that some are. He says, “We find it so easy to make the leap from this comic-book story to ‘gay men are necessarily feminine.’ I have to be honest, I wish we could all try to remember that some gay men ARE feminine, and, by the way, what’s wrong with being feminine? Why is that ‘less than’?”

Essentially, then, Billy is a character similar to that of Xander or Wesley: a human demon hunter fighting to keep the forces of evil at bay, inspired by Buffy and other Slayers. The fact that he is not actually a part of the Slayer line should quell some fans’ fears, but there has still been an uproar in the Buffy community about even the suggestion that a Slayer could be male.

Check out a sneak peek from the issue introducing Billy, courtesy of Out Magazine:

Buffy male gay slayer comics Billy Buffy male gay slayer comics Billy

What do you think, Buffy fans? Are you relieved that a man won’t possess actual Slayer powers, and are you intrigued to learn more about Billy the Vampire Slayer?

  • IdeomaniaAeneous56
  • http://twitter.com/Shaftsword Shaft Almasy

    Well he’s not a slayer so it is not really a relevant question. The only real question here is do Buffy fans have a problem with a strong male character who is gay? I bloody well hope not. I hope that Hypable isn’t going down the road of the ridiculously misleading headlines, that is the reason I don’t read UK newspapers as between a headline and the body of the article there is pretty much nothing in common.

    • http://hypable.com Selina

      I don’t see why the headline is misleading? The fandom has been in an uproar over the idea of a male Slayer, which I think is partially because the suggestion that a man could be a Slayer if he was gay was offensive to people. But as the article explains, that’s not what the writers are doing at all. That doesn’t mean the fans weren’t shocked though.

      • http://twitter.com/Shaftsword Shaft Almasy

        ‘gay male slayer’ For me at least that would be the misleading part of the headline. I equate it to those headlines you often see about scientific research where it says something like Wine lowers risk of heart attacks or something equally headline worthy but when you read the article as indeed here although we have to go to the 8th paragraph to get to the line that proves the headline is misleading “As any Buffy fan knows, of course, Billy can’t be an actual Slayer no matter his sexuality or personality, because Slayers must always be female.”

        At the end of the day that is just my take on things and I fully see why other people might not see it as misleading to me though it is clear as day.

        • Karen Rought

          If you look at the original article, they also call him a male slayer. He just hasn’t been “called” in the same way that Buffy has.

      • buffyfan

        just for clarification, not to be mean or anything, the headline is misleading because he isn’t actually a slayer, just a member of the scoobie gang

        • http://hypable.com Selina

          I’m only calling him a Slayer because that’s what the writers call him.

    • http://forgiveyourmind.tumblr.com/ Tariq

      Hypable is not a source that writes headlines to be misleading. We focus on getting the news right, and so you won’t ever have to worry about us trying to mislead our readers for the sake of views.

      Sorry if this specific headline confused you but it’s all based on fact and 100% accurate to the article.

      • http://twitter.com/Shaftsword Shaft Almasy

        It is clear to me now that it is the writers of Buffy Season 9 itself that wanted to stir things up with a controversial headline like Billy The Slayer when they are just talking about a non-supernaturally powered fighter. It just screams look at me I’m controversial when it doesn’t have to be.

  • http://twitter.com/_unforgiven Maj Elisabeth

    While I am happy that I can put my outrage into my little outrage box and save it for later, it does bring up some interesting questions about trans* in Buffyverse though, don’t it? Only girls can be Slayers, but what does the Slayer Choosing Magic ™ take into consideration? The anatomy of your body, or what gender you identity as?

  • Matt

    Huh. I think initially this news was shocking because I assumed it was equating being a gay man with being a woman, which isn’t a bad thing, seeing as both genders are equal in just about every way, but I’m glad that it’s more about empowering femininity and celebrating that. I love that Buffy is both womanly and strong, and that the show says that those adjectives are synonyms, so I’m okay with the comics also playing up the strength of femininity in men (gay or straight). I just think that the comics have gone in a different direction than how the show might’ve progressed (SPOILER: no willow, giles, spike?!) and I’m not sure that I like it. I like to think of the comics as one possible future for Buffy, but not the end-all-be-all canon of the story. One quick last thing: why couldn’t they have had Andrew fill this role? It seems like he might’ve been poised to become this kind of character late in the game of season 7.

  • buffyfan

    why is this such a big deal? hes just a new member of the scoobies that happens to be gay. and don’t say that he has the same role as wesley; wesley was a watcher. if you want to compare him to another member of the gang, there’s willow, xander, anya, tara, dawn, angel, and spike. if espenson wasn’t trying to make a big statement with this, and just let it occur naturally (thus making greater strides in her efforts for equality), it wouldn’t be a big deal at all. if he doesn’t possess any slayer powers, then calling him “billy the vampire slayer” is just like saying “xander the vampire slayer”.

  • Samma

    I was just freaking out with “Who the hell can they have a male slayer?!?!?!” But I’m glad to hear he’s not an *actual* slayer. By all means, wave your banners and stake some vamps, so long as you stick to the canon mythology.

    • http://hypable.com Selina

      Exactly what I thought!

  • http://twitter.com/Hmarjus2 Martrel Howard

    Being gay has nothing to do with anything… my reaction was to a “Male Slayer” when there cant be one in existence, glad he isnt… Just more misleading media titles

    • http://hypable.com Selina

      The reason the fact that he’s gay is important is because initially, it really upset fans when the news broke that the comics were introducing what was being called a “male Slayer”. They thought that he could only be a Slayer, despite being male, BECAUSE he was gay, and therefore were really offended that the writers would do something like that. But thankfully, as the article says, that wasn’t the case.

      • http://twitter.com/Hmarjus2 Martrel Howard

        I meant for me him being gay is a non issue when i read the headline it was merely the idea of a “male slayer” that had me like WHOA NOOOO!!!… Willow was gay, its kinda been there done that, Buffy never gave us any for of homophobic content so…the notion that just because hes gay would activate him as a slayer never even entered my mind, im just like dont call him a “slayer” he’s like Alaric from The Vampire Diaries

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