A Dark Place #2
Script: Victor Gischler, Pencils: Paul Lee, 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 open with Spike coming back to consciousness. He's in the moon-toad demon's tongue and surrounded by the fish-head crew of pirates.
It appears the ship is headed back toward Earth. The pirates plan to dump Spike out of the airlock. He's nonchalant about this and asks for a cigarette.
Page 02: Pirate Captain agrees to this and there is some mild banter. Pirate asks if Spike has any last words; The response is a mouthful of smoke blown in his face.
He orders Spike dumped in space.
Page 03: Random crewman states he looks forward to getting back to Sunnydale where the Pirates are intending to collect the shards of the destroyed Seed.
Spike interrupts that he was on the front lines of that last battle and he certainly didn't see these guys there.
Pirate Captain allows himself to be distracted from tossing Spike out and reveals that he and his crewmates were in fact at the battle, topside.
Page 04: When things went kablooey, the Pirate Crew saw one of the bigger beasties fleeing the battle and hitched a ride on the behemoth's back to get away from the Slayers. But, the giant beast was headed toward deep space.
With the Pirates stuck on the thing's back, they decided to bring it down before they got carried away too far from Earth. It happened that they were near to the moon, and the giant demon crash-landed, stranding them there.
Page 05: The demons are under the impression that the doorway back to their home dimension can still be opened if they can get their claws on the Seed leftovers.
Spike uses this as a way to save himself by playing up the unending mazes beneath Sunnydale. He offers to trade his life for being a guide to where the Seed was shattered.
Commentary: As you can see, I don't have much to comment on thus far. This may end up being a theme, alas. As mentioned in the comments section of the issue #1 review -- I've read this title and cannot for the life of me remember ANYthing that happens. It's a total blank memory!
I can only think that this is going to be a relatively dull tale of the usual Spike shenanigans with unmemorable bad guys. I'm really hoping that on a page-to-page review, something will leap out at me to talk about. For now, just let me say that the artwork is decent. I like the Giant Beetle-like demon that our bad guys hitched a ride on.
Page 06: The BugShip makes a landing at the Big-SunnyD-Crater.
Spike thinks to himself that all roads in Sunnydale lead to heartbreak and he wasn't thinking of revisiting, but oddly, he doesn't really mind it. He thinks that some unfinished business is coming into focus for him to deal with and put behind him.
Pirate keeps Spike leashed with the Demon-Toad's drippy tongue.
Commentary: Spike's line is: All roads in Sunnydale lead to trouble and heartache. But I guess certain places get under your skin and stay there.
I'm really surprised that the obvious: All roads keep leading back to Sunnydale isn't used. Because that seemed to be a big point of S8's ending; dragging the gang back to where it all started.
Page 07: Spike issues tough guy threats to Pirate Captain, who remains unimpressed. The gang head down into the depths below where Sunnydale used to exist.
Meanwhile, on the BugShip, re-taking the ship and rescuing Spike is being considered.
Page 08: Sebastian and "Frisky" are in a corridor looking at the only remaining Pirate guarding. They enact a plan to take him out. Seb takes a swig of Spike's whiskey....
Page 09: He sprays this on the Pirate, as Frisky holds a lighter into the stream (I wonder why Elizabeth wasn't in this role -- I don't think he/she was actually killed), lighting the fishhead on fire. The others beat him unconscious with the deck chair in the Solarium.
Seb points out to Frisk that by helping Spike, they are helping their own. But Frisk wonders if Spike feels as devoted to them, as they are obviously toward him.
Page 10: Meanwhile, Spike and company have reached the ruins of Sunnydale. Spike is pondering his place in the world, and where he belongs... where he can call "home", rather than just 'hideouts' and 'lairs'... his dark places.
He realizes that his soul also chains him to places and people in a way that a vampire isn't meant to be.
Page 11: Spike's musing takes him back to the conversation with Buffy-in-Buffybot2 in regards to not wanting to exist at the edge of her life waiting for her to need him temporarily when she feels her life sucks again.
He realizes saying that to her was easier than actually believing it himself.
Pirate Captain yells at him for daydreaming and warns he's losing patience.
Page 12: Pirate Captain accuses Spike of keeping them wandering around until he can find a way to break free and regrets not flushing Spike out of the airlock after all. His demeaner suggests that he's thinking about beheading Spike right now, but Spike points out that he's led them where he promised: The Seed Chamber.
Page 13: When the Pirates make it into the chamber, however, they find no evidence of the Shards remaining. Spike offers the sensible conclusion that they weren't the only ones looking for them and they were beat to the punch.
Pirate Captain accuses Spike of lying to them, instead. But a voice off-page says that he wasn't lying to them. Pirate Captain orders whoever else is there to show themselves.
Page 14: A woman steps out of the shadows dressed in a tight, leather bodysuit which immediately catches Spike's interest. Her red eyes suggests that she's at least partially demonic. She tells everyone gathered that the Shards were already gone when she got to them as well.
Page 15: Pirate Captain and her speak and it turns out she basically wants them for the same reason he does: She's gotten stranded and wants to go home.
Page 16: Pirate Captain is very unhappy with this answer. He accuses her of having the Shards on her and decides to kill both Demon-Woman and Spike to express this displeasure.
A shared glance tells Spike and Demon-Chick that they're teaming up.
Commentary: Again, the writer missed an obvious more-appropriate dialog opportunity. He has Pirate Captain yell that he's had enough bull$#!%. Considering the entire fish-motif among the pirates, wouldn't it have been a bit more clever to have the Pirate Captain use whale$#!%, here?
Page 17: Demon-Woman transforms into a winged, tailed, horned Devilish-Woman.
She launches into an air dive and tackles Pirate Captain. In the meantime, Pirate Crewman tries to slice Spike down the center of his head, but he dodges enough for the Demon-Toad to get its tongue sliced through, allowing him to escape custody.
A kick sends the Crewman flying off his feet, and nabs Spike a sword.
Page 18: Spike is faced with three demons, including the giant hammer guy. He's holding his own, but the Demon-Toad is about to tackle into him, which could change the balance drastically.
Fortunately, electrical arcs suddenly shock the Toad, sending it prematurely to the ground in a heap.
It turns out that the Bugs have come to the rescue.
Commentary: Yay! I do like that the BugCrew is going to be confronting the possibility that Spike isn't as emotionally invested in them, as they are devoted to him. In general, I like the BugCrew... much more than I did when they first appeared. We've been given a few characters, including Seb of course, that have a personality so that has helped immensely.
Page 19: The Devilish-Woman is a succubus. She loses in hand-to-hand with Pirate Captain, and he's about to kill her when Spike shoves his sword through the Captain's back.
Page 20: This is followed up with a beheading of the fish-demon, because oh-so-appropriate.
Spike and Succubus, who now tells us a name, exchange pleasantries. She's Morgan. Morgan states that she wasn't lying before about the Shards being gathered by somebody else before her arrival. She can tell that it was actually several somebodies in the chamber.
Page 21: Spike is about to offer information about who he believes may have passed through looking for the Shards, but they're interrupted by a pair of figures blasting through the roof of the chamber. Spike and Morgan are barely able to dive out of the way of the newcomers.
The shadows in the dust tell those of us who read Angel & Faith that these two are Pearl and Nash.
Commentary: I am always appreciable of when concurrent developments in titles of a share universe comment on things happening in that shared universe, so I like the inclusion here of these two hunting down the Shards. It's a nice touch.
Page 22: The twins power-stand and snark. Spike snarks back.
Pearl: We do apologize for the dramatic entrance.
Nash: Do we?
Pearl: No, not really.
Spike: Well... if it isn't Flowers In The Attic.
Commentary: That was clever. And amusing. So, at least I leave the issue with a small grin.
The Good: I liked the BugCrew taking proactive measures to regain control of their own craft and save Spike.
I liked the energy at the end with the amusing Nash and Pearl (with a caveat).
The Bad: As a series, my complete lack of memory in regards to what is coming up is disturbing.
Other Thoughts: Spike's musings are dull and I'm not really seeing much point to this title. It still isn't pissing me off the way Spike: After The Fall did though, especially #2 of that series (which I gave a 2.5). But, there seems to be a recurring motif -- Spike off on his own simply isn't producing interesting comic stories.
The battle scenes were alright, and I was pleasantly surprised that the Pirate Gang was dispatched so soon. They were boring, so this is good.
Nash and Pearl added some nice energy at the end, but they can be obnoxious and irritating when they hang around hogging story space, so I hope they're not the 'big bad' of the title. I have a vague impression that Morgan is going to be the bad guy, but I can't remember if this is so, or just an impression from re-reading this issue.
The Score: 3.25 out of 5 Stars
Next Review: Spike, A Dark Place #3