spikeSpike. William the Bloody. Killer of Two Slayers, on-and-off lover of one. Master of a ship of sentient space bugs. In this volume, one of the most popular characters in Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe has his own adventure as part of the Buffy Season Nine run.

Rejected yet again by Buffy—this time by her refusal to join him on his bug ship—Spike seeks to escape his memories on the dark side of the moon, running from his past without a clear destination in mind. Vampire luck is not on his side, though, as his ship is hijacked by a group of sturgeon demons seeking to recover the shards of the destroyed Seed of Wonder to power their way home. But the sturgeons are not the only demons looking for these lost pieces of magic, and it will take the combined efforts of Spike, Sebastian, his crew of bugs, and a courtesan demon named Morgan to prevent another Hellmouth from opening on Earth.

An adventure story, a personal quest, and a philosophical mediation all bundled into one, A Dark Place gives the reader a chance to see Spike with a focus and depth that his character has seldom been granted. His internal monologue, his relationship with Sebastian and the other space bugs, and his conversations with Morgan allow the reader to see Spike’s grief over his relationship with Buffy, as well as his struggle to define himself in this new world. No longer the big bad villain, yet not quite the hero, Spike needs to find a place where he fits, one that isn’t focused on Buffy. Along the way, he encounters a bit of his past, clashes with a potential future, and tries to stop the end of the world. Again.

Victor Gischler brilliantly captures Spike’s character in this new adventure; the familiar reader will hear Marsters’ voice as Spike snarks his way through fights and affectionately abuses his bug crew. Like Gischler, artist, Paul Lee, recreates Spike’s familiar visage well, and his artwork on A Dark Place fits easily within the existing world of Buffy comics even as he creates new demons and other nasties.

It’s important to note that despite being published as its own limited series, Spike: A Dark Place is a piece of Buffy Season Nine and its intended audience are those readers already familiar with the extended Buffy-verse. Although it does work as a stand-alone adventure story, many references to events in the previous comics are likely to confuse readers who are not already aware of them. Readers familiar with Spike will recognize his smoking and drinking habits, though these behaviors might be problematic for those new to the story. A Dark Place also includes a number of sword fights, demon deaths, implied sex, and occasional strong language; the levels are typical for the existing storylines, but they could be surprising to a novice reader.

Collections that include other Buffy volumes will find Spike: A Dark Place an excellent addition to their existing holdings and devoted Buffy aficionados are likely to appreciate this mini-adventure within the larger story-verse.

Spike: A Dark Place
by Victor Gischler
Art by Paul Lee
ISBN: 9781616551094
Dark Horse, 2013
Publisher Age Rating: 14+

  • Beth Rogers

    Past Reviewer

    This reviewer is not longer actively working on our site, but we would not be here if not for our many dedicated contributors over the years. We thank all of them for their reviews, features, and support! Beth Rogers is Coordinator of Reference, Instruction, and Outreach at the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library at West Virginia Wesleyan College, where she has worked to introduce and develop the library’s graphic novel collection. Also a part-time lecturer in English, Beth has taught courses on graphic novels for college students, lead book discussions on graphic novels including Watchmen and American-Born Chinese, and guest lectured on superheroes in American culture. She also maintains a book review blog, Do I Wanna Read THAT?!?!? When she’s not working, Beth enjoys action movies, knitting wee Avengers, and spoiling her dog.

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