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10 October 2013 @ 11:46 am
Review: Spike, A Dark Place Issue 3  

Spike: A Dark Place

Issue 3

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 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 on a flashback to Rome in 1953. A blond woman lies on a bed, post-coitus, exposition-ing that she hopes her romp took. Y'see her mother sent her specifically to get pregnant.

A voice off panel apologizes for her misunderstanding. It turns out that children of any sort isn't what her bedmate was interested in. He's a Black-Widower demon.

Page 02: The demon launches itself at the bed, revealing that it is a humanoid-spider combo, which doesn't look in any way like a good choice for a bedmate for a human.

When the girl dodges, she yells out for Nash. Yes, this is Pearl. A younger, less worldly, less sarcastic Pearl.

Page 03: Nash barges in from the connecting room to tackle the demon. All this gets him is a backhand that knocks him out... our twins were much less powerful back in 1953, as well.

Page 04: Pearl manages to recover enough to save her brother with a vzzzap, but it barely bothers the Black-Widower.

It manages to grab her around the throat and is about to feed on her, when a vampire in an unfamiliar black leather jacket crashes through the suite window. This is, in fact, Spike before he met Nikki and got his iconic long black coat.

Page 05: Spike has been tracking down the Black-Widower not to stop it from killing folks -- obvs Spike hasn't been changed by Buffy yet. No, he's there because the demon owes him a gambling debt that he's been slow in repaying.

The demon begs and pleads that he can repay double, even triple, for just a bit more time.

Spike's not having it and the Black-Widower finds itself without a head a moment later.


Page 06: As Pearl recovers from her near-death, Drusilla has joined Spike from the window. She tells Spike that Pearl seems all breathlessly grateful, and as her hero, surely he should get a reward.

Spike likes this idea, but what oh what does Pearl have to offer?

We don't find out, as we skip forward to the present.

Page 07: Pearl and Spike greet one another and everyone else is left a bit confused as to what she's going on about.

It doesn't matter, really. The point is that Spike wasn't much of a hero back in 1953 and Pearl seems a bit resentful that her naivety was used against her in some way by the vampire.

She says time has helped her see what he really is. Spike offers that it's going around in his thoughts.

Page 08: Spike's thoughts turn to how Pearl has gotten harder and crazier. He on the other hand, what has he changed into... not a villain, not exactly a hero; He feels stuck in some sorta no-man's land.

Pearl snappily wonders if she's boring him, what with him drifting on her.

Spike tells her it's been nice to see her, but they'll be on their way now.

Commentary: Yes, Pearl. Yes, I do find this all boring. This took eight pages to tell?

Page 09: Pearl and Nash aren't about to let Spike's group leave without making sure that they aren't attempting to slip some of the precious Seed shards out with them. Spike's answer to Nash's demand that he turns out his pockets to prove he isn't carrying is to break his pointy finger for shoving it in his face.

Page 10: This gets Spike a beating by both, as the BugCrew rush the Succubus out of the chamber.


Pearl orders her brother to stop playing and start killing him for good.

Commentary: I suppose we're meant to take Nash's claim to love hitting Spike as the excuse for him not immediately blasting the vampire into a pile of melted flesh. I guess I can work with it. But Nash and Pearl seem off their game, witty banter wise.

I suppose I should be enjoying the tie from Spike to Angel & Faith. But, I think I could have done without the entire flashback, we-have-a-historyness of the opening. The Seed Shard Hunt was all that was really needed to justify the twins' attacks.

Page 11: Spike maneuvers to a column holding the chamber up, and times an leap to avoid a blast that takes that column down. He's able to retreat down a tunnel, while Nash and Pearl are dealing with the resultant cave-in.

Page 12: He makes it back to the BugShip, where he orders them to launch into orbit, throwing off pursuit by the twins. We see them make it to the surface, so they can continue to harass Angel & Faith.

Morgan evinces confusion over whether she's supposed to have been rescued or kidnapped so Spike clarifies that he's willing to drop her off somewhere.

Page 13: They discuss, and she reports that she needs another Hellmouth. Spike seems unaware of any others besides the defunct Sunnydale. But Morgan has the information and pulls up a location, being kept from us for the moment.

Spike does offer that in retrospect, it seems so obvious for a Hell portal to be at the location. Morgan agrees that she didn't already know it immediately, herself.

Spike sets course, while Morgan goes off to shower the grime off. Meanwhile, Seb asks for a word with the vampire.

Page 14: Sebastian is concerned with Spike's quick offer to take Morgan, a demon none of them know, right to a Hellmouth where she wants to go. He's worried that she could have found a Shard before their arrival and that she could want a lift in order to open said Hellmouth.

He's further bothered that Spike appears to not be considering that Succubus have mind-warping powers due to their sexual allure.

Spike is resistant to the thought that Morgan could effortlessly manipulate him, but he can't help but wonder why he didn't consider that Morgan could be planning a Hellmouth opening, if all she needs is to get home.

Commentary: Is it just me, or should this limited series have actually been named "Sebastian and the BugCrew"? They seem to be doing all of the story stuff, while Spike continues wandering around in a Buffy-funk. There is something wrong when I'm finding Seb the more interesting character than the title one.

Page 15: Spike sneaks into the shower room to take a quick peek through Morgan's jumpsuit. He tries to be sneaky about it, but she's on to him, having expected it. She tells him she doesn't mind him looking for a Shard and says that maybe they should talk a bit.

Page 16: As the Ship remains in high orbit, Morgan and Spike sit down over whiskey. He side eyes her about the whole Succubus thing, which she acknowledges she supposes she'll have to show some trust to earn some trust.

Meanwhile, Seb is asked what he is planning on doing.

Page 17: On the bridge, Seb is watching Morgan and Spike over a monitor. Frisky is as worried about the she-demon on board as Seb. But Sebastian vetoes doing anything rash about it at this time. He states that they have to trust Spike to know of their concerns and to be careful about getting too involved with the Succubus. But, until that have some sort of proof that he's lost perspective, Spike is still their King. He says they must watch and wait to see how things shake out.

Meanwhile, Morgan tells Spike that she'll start...

Page 18: Morgan offers that she's more of a high-class Succubus than the general class of demon. She can't exactly translate her title from the old tongue, but she's basically a courtesan. Rather than being about sex, her kind were about companionship and trusted comforters, friends and even advisers. They were often trusted with close positions to the ruling class of humans because of their trustworthiness.

Page 19: She asks for Spike's tale, but he remains vague about his troubles. She offers that she'd like to ask him a question, which he doesn't mind.

Page 20: She asks about Pearl calling him a hero, even if sarcastically. Spike offers that Pearl was young and dumb then. But he also offers that he has changed a lot from when he was the villain of every story. He offers that seeing her again made him remember how things were much more simple then, and how he usually knew what he wanted and how to get it... something presumably he feels is lacking with this entire Buffy-situation still clinging to him.

Morgan smiles that some may call the changes he refers to 'growth'.

Page 21: Morgan reaches out and touches his arm comfortingly, and Spike can see why Kings of Old would have opened up their troubles to her.

She then brings conversation around on him to Nash and Pearl discussing the Shards. Spike tells her that the Slayer knew that having the Shards lying around would be too dangerous.

Morgan understands. But, she wonders if she might just be taken to their location so she could borrow one piece for her return trip. Spike claims that Buffy wanted them gone for good, and so he shot them into the sun.

Page 22: Spike offers that with this new information, a trip to the Hellmouth might be wasted. He asks if she'd like to go elsewhere, but she's adamant that she may be able to figure out another way if she lays eyes on the portal's location. She gives him soft-eyes and a soft 'please', which gains a sympathetic smile from him.

Frisky and Seb had relocated outside of the dining hall and have witnessed the interaction. They're both very uneasy with the effect they believe they see of Morgan on Spike. Seb ominously states that steps will be taken....


Commentary: Of course, last time those steps turned out to be completely benign, so this may or may not be more slight of hand about a Bug!Mutiny.

The Good: I do like the sepia-tone used for the flashback panels.

The Bad: Nice cover... which is completely misleading. Nothing that dramatic happens to Spike, including the fight with Nash and Pearl.

Other Thoughts: Kinda dull.

It's weird and wrong that I'm more drawn to side-character Sebastian... a Bug-guy with only a sling to differentiate himself from every other BugCrewman, than with Spike's story. There is something wrong with that.

Morgan is... okay. The issue is... okay. But, I don't know... I'm starting to wonder if maybe even 5 issues (which is a weird number, rather than 4 or 6) is too many pages for the story they have lined up.

The Score: It's not bad enough to give a less than average score, but there also isn't anything to really grab onto.

3.0 outta 5 stars

Next Review: Spike, A Dark Place #4

Barbrahirah on October 10th, 2013 04:20 pm (UTC)
The fact is, they haven't got a story to tell about Spike, and no clue what to do with him. He's got no main internal conflict which would make him a good protagonist - he was designed as a supporting character, and he's a damned good one. (Ironically, the one thing about him which WOULD have been a good protagonist-worthy internal conflict - trying to be good without a soul - is the one thing the Mutant Enemy writers didn't dare follow through with.)

Spike's not the only character in this boat - Dawn hasn't really had a story since S5, other than being a perpetual damsel in distress, and I don't think they know what to do with Xander or even Buffy herself a lot of the time. But it seems more egregious with Spike because he's a popular character and they seem afraid to sideline him. So he gets pointless outings like this one.
harsens_robharsens_rob on October 12th, 2013 12:23 pm (UTC)
I can't disagree.
It's obvious to me that you're correct in that there isn't a story to tell about Spike... certainly not one that couldn't be told as a subplot in Buffy's or Angel's titles as a "Meanwhile, back with Spike..." series of scenes. This title definitely doesn't have it. I also agree that Spike, as a supporting character, actually works and if they'd stop trying to force him into his own "starring-story", he could continue to be of interest. But, if you're going to send him on his own adventure, then he needs an arc where he's confronting things about himself and growing... like you said, he needs internal conflict if he's starring in his own story. Moping over Buffy isn't an internal conflict worth its own series to tell. Other than $$$, I don't know what the writers were thinking with this... undramatic... tale.

Poor Dawn. There was so much potential hinted at in some of S7 about where she was going to go, and how she was going to grow into being a Scooby of her own. And then S8 came along, and all of that seemed to be forgotten so that she could make Buffy's life hard, again. Which will only lead to a repeat of my rant about Dawn's "arc" culminating in issue 25 that left me so disappointed.

With your opinion of Xander and Buffy's handling, though, I think you may be onto a greater observation... the writing staff doesn't seem to have a good grasp on the basic building-blocks of these characters.

But back with Spike, in addition to "they seem afraid to sideline him", I'd also add, "they seem afraid to upset the status quo of his relationships with the rest of the gang, Buffy especially".