"A Dark Place, Part I"
Script: Victor Gischler, Pencils: Paul Lee, Inks: Any Owens, Colors: Cris Peter, Letters: (the very busy) Richard Starkings & Comicraft's Jimmy Betancourt,
Cover: Jenny Frison
Blurb: After parting ways with the love of his life, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike has taken himself far away from San Francisco. He can't just be Buffy's only-in-desperate-circumstances fallback guy. His way of coping with the endless heartbreak? Head to the dark side of the moon in a spaceship filled with human-sized bugs, drown his sorrows in a bottle of booze, and avoid any trouble ... Although that can only work for so long ...
Page 01: We join the BugShip in space as it heads to the shadowed side of the moon and sets down. Spike's thoughts are on Pink Floyd.
Page 02: Spike turns away from the viewport and wanders down a corridor, where he's joined by Sebastian - the main Bug we've seen. Seb is still nursing injuries from tangling with Simone. He wonders what purpose their being on the moon is serving, but Spike isn't in a talking mood.
After Spike continues without him, Seb is joined by another Bug who expresses worry about their Sire's state of mind. Sebastian concedes that their King does seem more disturbed than usual and promises they will take steps as needed.
Commentary: I can't tell if this is supposed to be as vaguely menacing as it comes across as, or if I'm reading into it because the BugPeople look like overgrown cockroaches, and I've already seen that.
Page 03: Spike goes to Buffybot's cabin, where he stands being all mopey despite telling the Universe he isn't going to be. Her things are still there, and he ponders what exactly about Buffy gets him so hung up on her.
Page 04: Spike sits in a room he was going to make into a solarium for her, as he replays the scene of his telling her that he can't be the dark place she runs to when her life isn't working out as a temporary fix, anymore. He's got his bottle and he ponders being the thing that can't leave the dark behind, like she can.
Meanwhile, Seb and Elizabeth (another Bug), have followed at a discreet distance. Elizabeth tells Seb that having Spike be stuck in the doldroms isn't acceptable.
Commentary: I was never into the Spuffy, as I've mentioned before, so I have little patience for a Spike that is being all woobie over her. It'd be nice if we could have this series be the way for Spike to take or leave Buffy just like I can take or leave Spuffy. Mopey-Spike isn't the Spike that I like to hang around with. Especially because we already have a mopey-vampire for these sorts of self-involved, brooding interludes.
I know mileage varies quite a bit on the romantic subplots revolving around Buffy, but I don't find any of this to be tragically romantic, so much as annoyingly indulgent of the writers in trying to force schmoopy on us. If you want to make Spike depressed over Buffy, then have him go the drunken hellraiser route -- at least that's fun to watch [and not repetitive with Angel].
Page 05: Sometime later, Elizabeth is still in a state over Spike being in a state. She tells Sebastian straight up that Spike is no longer fit to be their leader and action must be taken. Seb resists, until he sees that nearly the entire crew is on his/her side.
He buckles and agrees that STEPS MUST BE TAKEN!
Page 06: Seb confronts Spike in the corridors. He shares that the crew feel he isn't fit to lead them anymore and that steps are to be taken to resolve the situation. Spike isn't getting the severity of the mutinous feelings among the BugTribe and begins a tirade.
We see presumably-Elizabeth in the foreground, carrying a cut out sun, a rolled up something and a pail to somewhere(??).
Page 07: Before Spike can get into his rant about Seb's attitude, the ship starts to lift off. Spike is indignant that they're going somewhere without orders, but Sebastian shares that he was the one to order lift off. He tells Spike that they're heading back toward the light.
Spike reminds Seb which one of them is the master of the vessel, but as he's doing so he's confronted by the rest of the BugCrew. It appears that a grand ol' mutiny is afoot.
Page 08: The BugCrew lift Spike on their shoulders and shuffle him off to Buffy's Solarium. When he protests, Seb tells him that steps have been taken to restore their natural order. He opens the Solarium windows, and Spike sees that they've returned to the sunlight bathed area of the moon.
He protests that they had a good thing going, but the Bugs are not to be disuaded, now that they've decided that steps must be taken.
Spike yells his last words, as the sunlight streams in as he's presumably being reduced to his ashy remains!!
Page 09: Out on the moon's surface, a handful of aliens spy the BugShip. They just happen to have a giant toad as one of their number.
Yes. Just so happen.
Meanwhile in voiceover, Seb is groveling an apology to the ashy remains of Spike that they had to take such action.
Page 10: Except, no. Don't be silly.
Oh, Spike is being bathed in sunlight, but he doesn't go up in an ashstorm. Seb is begging to be punished for ignoring Spike's commands during his brief mutiny. Spike blows it off, understanding the Bugs were acting out of worry.
Page 11: It turns out that off-panel Seb was able to replace the Solarium viewports with that ultra-convenient necrotempered glass that W & H had used extensively in their offices. Spike is able to bathe in their cheapjack version of a holodeck (with the cutout sun, a magazine from Earth, a beach chair and a bucket of ice with beer).
The Bugs got the magazine from one that Buffy left behind, and they decided to copy the Madison Avenue ad depicting the scene to help Spike out of his dark funk.
Commentary: I actually think the Bugs are rather cute in their concern, so I can forgive the convenient swapping in of the magic glass that was always way to convenient so AtS could start filming during the day more often. It's a mild annoyance, but it's canonically existent so I'll let it slide. I'm not even irritated over the misdirect, though Spike/William dealing with the after-afterlife would've been more interesting than continuing to deal with the mild comedy of BugLife. And, naturally I have good will toward the BugCrew for being as tired of the lovelorn Spike as I am.
So, while normally you may expect me to rail against the cheat, I'm actually okay with this one. Though, it would be swell if the Bugs did show a bit more insect-like ruthlessness around the ship just once in a while.
Page 12: Seb and Spike conversate about how people allow themselves to be sucked into fantasy because they want to be fooled, even though they know it's all about chicanery. Spike realizes he doesn't really want to do the same thing right now with this false setting and forcing himself to believe that some sunbathing is going to resolve his feelings.
Page 13: He orders the experiment to end, to Seb and Elizabeth's sinking feelings. Seb worries they're headed back to the dark side and laments his failure. Spike would rather follow his believable feelings than hide from them, but before they're headed back to the broody side of the moon, something out on the lunar surface catches Spike's attention.
Page 14: It's the demonic toad clinging to the ship. The Bugs freak out, but Spike orders a crew to suit up and drive it away from the ship, before it can damage something it needs to function. Seb prepares a unit for combat, but is clearly not wild about this plan.
Page 15: Of course, Spike doesn't know that this isn't just a moon-toad out there, but is part of a larger group.
When the Bugs open the hatch, the intruder is ready for them, and barrels inside the hanger. And despite the Bugs cattleprod weapons, a toad beats a roach, everytime.
Page 16: While this is going on, Spike has returned to his thoughts of Buffy. He's feeling like a chump for considering seriously that Buffy and he could settle down and have a more-normal life, on account of his belief that she'd been pregnant. He's getting a bit tired of himself.
His reverie is interrupted by a red-alert, as he still doesn't know that he has bigger worries than a broken heart and a wandering moon toad.
Page 17: He's suddenly confronted by Bugs retreating up the corridor. Elizabeth warns him to run, just as the toad-beast thwips its tongue around him/her.
Spike isn't about to allow one of his crew to be eaten though, and launches into an attack, instead of following the retreating insect crew.
Commentary: I'm liking the artwork, and the amphibi-demon, though far too convenient, is at least drawn interestingly.
Page 18: Spike gets grabbed by the prehensile tongue, but uses his cigarette to get free. He finds out quickly that the toad-thing's tongue is more than for grabbing though, as it can also be used as a club. Spike is knocked back into the Solarium.
Page 19: The beast follows him in, and they get into a melee battle. Using a broken bottle and his fist, Spike gets control of the situation.
Page 20: Well, until the toad-beast's fish-headed bosses invade the Solarium. He gets knocked to the floor, causing him to go into vamp!face.
Commentary: And, I simply cannot ignore the clumsy way that the bad guys were allowed to suddenly be in the Solarium without explanation, allowing Spike to get punched in the head from behind. How in the hell did five large bipeds wander in without being noticed, then get behind Spike??
That was dumb.
Page 21: Spike goes into the kick-ass mode that I thought might help him out of his funk more than Buffy-obsessing, but it turns out that he's outmuscled... especially since the toad-beast ain't dead and is able to wrap him tight in the tongue of restraint after taking another blow to the head.
This one from a demon who seems out of place with the rest of our bad-guy crew, but he comes equipped with a large, heavy-headed hammer. That puts Spike down for the count.
Page 22: With Spike defeated, and the BugCrew having retreated into the bowels of the ship, our pirates make their way to the bridge. Pirate-Leader orders the Seb and the bridge crew to lift off immediately for open space, where he intends to jettison Spike....
The Good: No impact on overall scoring, but I like the interior artwork, especially the inks and coloring that enhances the pencils nicely.
I generally like Seb's character and his "is that dry humor or serious" line deliveries.
The Bad: Just the clumsy and impossible way that the pirate crew manages to get behind Spike. That was crap.
Other Thoughts: Enough of broody-pants, please. Angel is enough.
I don't like the way that the BugCrew just largely disappear while Spike is fighting for the ship. That was pretty lame, but it didn't bother me enough to go into The Bad.
The Score: Meh. It was better than IDW's "Spike: After the Fall" starting off. But, it's feeling pretty random.
3.0 outta 5 stars
Next Review: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century's "Planet of the Amazon Women". I'm afraid we're headed for thick cheese.