A Dark Place, Issue 5
Script: Victor Gischler, Pencils: Paul Lee & Cliff Richards, Inks: Andy Owens, Colors: Cris Peter
Letters: 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 making a swoop back toward Easter Island, where Morgan and her sliver of Seed crystal has gone. Spike is standing at the now smashed out necrotempered glass of the solarium trying to spot her.
Page 02: Not being able to wait until the BugShip reaches a sensible height, leaps and fall through a palm tree before hitting a hill and rolling into one of the Giant Head Statues.
Page 03: Meanwhile, Morgan has returned to a circle of inward facing Heads on the island. She begins to chant in some mystic language and the Head's eyes to open and begin to glow red.
Meanwhile, Spike is figuratively beating himself up for allowing Morgan to pull the wool over his eyes.
Commentary: Which is difficult not to agree with... he already knew she had Seductress Powers, but it didn't seem to take any real work for her to have him around her finger... at least up to the moment when she tried to get some not-Buffy sex in there.
Page 04: It turns out that the stone Heads are actually Stone Beings, though. They were just buried to their shoulders. As Morgan is commanding them to open their Hellmouth, the Stone Beings are pulling themselves out of the ground.
Which allows them to bat Spike away, when he tries to break up Morgan's plans.
Meanwhile, the BugShip has somehow not closed the distance yet... somehow....
Page 05: Aboard that ship, Frisky offers to Sebastian that retreating to Alpha Centaurus might be looking like a good idea. But Seb wants to help Spike to make up for not acting a lot sooner, rather than throwing Frisk into the brig over his/her "loose cannon"ness.
Sebastian sounds general quarters and orders everyone to battle stations... which he gets a charge out of.
Page 06: On the island, the No-Longer-Just Heads are pulling themselves together as Spike joins Morgan in the center of the magic circle. He insists that the Hellmouth, once opened and without Earth's defenses, will tear the world apart.
Morgan, being both a demon and not an Earth resident, isn't really worried about this. She complains to Spike that she can feel herself being diminished by being trapped away from home. She accuses him of not understanding what it is like to feel a thirst that can never be quenched [Yeah, yeah... Spike feels this for Buffy... blah-blah].
Spike gives her a "too bad" and tells her she's not opening the gateway, while she counter-shouts that she's not asking for his permission.
Page 07: This argument/building fight is abruptly interrupted though by the Stone Beings. They are not interested in listening to Morgan, either. Spike and Morgan quickly seperate just as a Giant Stone Fist hits the ground right where they'd been standing toe to toe.
Spike snarks at her lack of command over what she's summoned to consciousness.
Page 08: While Spike and Morgan are running away, Seb has the ship's few weapons brought online. He promises Frisk that this will be their finest hour.
Page 09: Sebastian orders the BugShip to "shred the bastards".
Page 10: The BugShip makes a pass and blows a few of the Stone Guardians apart, to Spike's pleasure. But, it appears it isn't going to be that easy, naturally.
Page 11: As it turns out, when the things get tough for the Stone Beings, they get merged into a Giant-Giant.
Aboard the BugShip, the pilot yells out that they need to pull up to avoid the Giant-Giant, but Sebastian orders them to keep firing.
Alas, this brings the ship's flight path within hitting distance of the Giant-Giant, and the BugShip takes a solid "kronk" to its aft-quarter. Large bits of the ship shear off from the engine section.
Commentary: I like that the Bugs are still playing such a central role in the story, right up to this final battle (as it appears it may be for them). I do still find their focus to be outsized for this supposedly being Spike's title, but at this point... why not?
Page 12: With the BugShip limping off trailing bad-looking smoke, Spike yells at Morgan that they need to split up to confuse the Giant-Giant.
Naturally, it follows after Spike, which he complains about considering that Morgan was the one trying to open the portal.
The Giant-Giant isn't in a listening mood and stomps the ground.
Page 13: The shock waves knock Spike from his feet, leaving him in a rather grim position as the Giant-Giant lifts its Giant Stone Foot Of Stomp-ass over him.
Aboard the BugShip, Frisk is reporting to Seb that there is no hope.
Page 14: Our POV switches to aboard said BugShip-with-no-hope. The bridge is on fire and it is clear that the ship is doomed. With the engine core approaching critical, Sebastian orders an abandon ship. He'll stay aboard to pilot the vessel enough to keep it stable so the escape pods can successfully deploy.
Frisk tries to argue the point that Master Spike would not want Seb to self-destruct with the vessel, but Seb offers Frisky his/her own argument back about asking for forgiveness later rather than for permission now. He sends Frisk off to evacuate, as he begins his last log entry.
Commentary: I suppose that this had to happen in order to justify why Spike never just leaves if he's so miserable and keep thereby keep him in the Buffyverse. And I do like that Sebastian is apparently be written out with a big, heroic sacrifice since he was a decent character....
I'm just not sure that keeping Spike around was necessary at this time. I keep thinking that we're losing an opportunity for the writers to keep Spike "out there in space" for a year while they brainstormed ideas for what to do with him as something other than a Buffy hanger-on. And with a year of not seeing him at all, we'd all be more than ready to fully embrace a dramatic return of the character -- perhaps in one of those multi-title crossover extravaganzas that would "change everything".
I'm afraid that we're going to hold to the unchanging same-old, same-old status-quo with his character by the writers not setting him aside for a while. This is doubly disappointing since this particular title really didn't do anything different with him either; The Bugs, but not him.
Page 15: Morgan is able to swoop in and save Spike just before his stomping. But then getting enough height to put them beyond the Giant-Giant's reach proves challenging.
As they retreat, Spike watches the BugShip launching escape pods and sees its flaming hulk on an intercept course.
Page 16: Sebastian wraps up his last log [Although, how whether its actually going anywhere or was pointlessly destroyed with the ship anyway isn't addressed. It doesn't seem like Seb launched a message buoy or anything. I'm going to choose to believe that it was transmitted to the escape pod's receivers as his last words].
The BugShip smashes and blows up atop Giant-Giant. He's blown apart/seperated into his Stone Beings constituents.
Page 17: Later, with the Stone Beings that weren't blasted apart being rendered inert all the same, Frisky tells Spike of Sebastian's self-sacrifice. He tells him further that they've searched everywhere and there is no sign, as expected, that Seb could've escaped his fate.
Spike and Frisk separate with plans for Frisky to take over leadership of the remaining crew. They've decided that they're going to separate from Spike and remain on the island in isolated caves as a colony.
Page 18: Spike asks what they intend to do and Frisk assures him that they'll start constuction of a new spaceship using the local bamboo and coconuts [A "Gilligan's Island" reference?].
Spike stares at him/her dumbfounded, until Frisky assures him that was a joke.
They leave on good terms with one another and Spike joins Morgan. She's amused at the looks on the anthropologist's faces when they come and see the mess they've left behind, but he's just glad that the Hellmouth isn't making a larger mess.
Page 19: Morgan and Spike share dialog about how she would've been satisfied to stay put in the first place if he'd been more amenable to being consorts with him telling her that was never an option. She offers that she needs to feel connected to something and without a powerful man, she wanted to connect with home again. [Okay, Feminist she isn't. The real Ms. Morgan would totally stomp her ass.]
She realizes now that she can't compete with Buffy's memory to him, though.
Page 20: Spike reminds her there is also that little issue about her jerking him around about the Seed shard to make a closer relationship challenging between them.
She apologizes again, but offers that she'd still be very interested in being this century's power couple.
Page 21: His answer is a "sod off". Morgan gives him a shrug and flies off to parts unknown.
Meanwhile, Spike is left to sit alone on the cliffside with one cigarette left, no ship, and no ideas of what to do next.
Conveniently, his cell phone has survived the action however and chooses this opportune moment to ring.
Page 22: This turns out to be Angel calling from London. He tells Spike that he'd been trying to reach him for days.
Spike is left with an idea of what will be next.
Commentary: And so do I. Instead of retreading Buffy's lovesick puppy, we'll retread Angel's antagonistic partnership instead.
Please see my oft-repeated comments about taking a break from Spike's character and putting some thought into what to do with him. Repeating dynamics isn't really a plan of action.
The Good: I like that the Bugs were given a decent sendoff, particularly of course with Sebastian.
The Bad: Nothing wrankled.
Other Thoughts: I'm kinda sorry that Spike didn't take up with Morgan, just because it might have led to some different characterization for Spike. It may have been interesting if he'd been slowly corrupted by her influence and became an accidental big-bad as she pushed him to greater and greater heights of power. It could've ended with Drusilla coming to Angel to help save their family member from himself and Morgan.
I'm also not sure what the point was of keeping the Bugs in reserve. It seems to me that they've probably been tapped out and maybe it would've been better to simply give them a clean and permanent exit -- assuming they weren't going to send Spike off to deep space for a year, as mentioned in the review.
Back to Angel, huh? Y'know, with a team around him they could've gone with the idea visited in Spike's IDW adventure in Las Vegas and simply spun him off to his own ongoing title in another place away from Buffy and Angel: Perhaps in Buenos Aires or Sydney. Give him a permenent creative team and stories of his own. I'm sure that Buffyverse collectors would shell out for a third title, with him as the center. Especially as this would allow him to interact with other side characters from the Buffy and Angel television series' without the main characters' baggage.
The Score: It was okay.
3.25 out of 5 stars.
Next Review: I just can't bother with the DVD-ROM right now. It's possible I'll go online and review a movie from Hulu or something, but for now, we'll stick with the comic reviewing. Next up will be Angel & Faith #11 - 14.