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SPIKE: A DARK PLACE #1, just out from Dark Horse Comics,
unleashes Joss Whedon’s breakout character into an exciting solo adventure. The
brooding vampire with a soul finds himself looking aimlessly for any kind of
fight. He will do just about anything to ignore the pain of a broken heart.
At the end of the recent BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: SEASON
NINE issues, Spike turned his back and parted ways with the love of his life.
Desperately trying to forget about Buffy Summers, he now finds himself
traveling into deep space. While drowning his sorrows in alcohol, Spike jokes
about the Roger Waters song as he journeys to the dark side of the moon. No
matter how hard he tries, there is always a constant reminder of Buffy.
Inside his steampunk spaceship, Spike sits in the captain’s
chair, hiding in the darkness. Along for the ride are a race of oversized alien
cockroaches, who claim Spike is their prophesized supreme leader. But do these
extraterrestrials really want a leader who just mopes around, wallowing in his
heartache? Just when the crew is questioning his motives, Spike has to stay
sober enough to take on the space monsters, who are about to attack his ship.
With this vampire-in-space concept, author Victor Gischler
(DEATH OF DRACULA) plays around with the established character, aiming for the
comedic notes. Having gone from villain to anti-hero, Spike is fully developed
with his own personality and character flaws. There is a lot Gischler can do
with this type of rogue protagonist: For instance, providing him with a
supporting cast by giving the alien bugs more to do. The critters now have full
conversations, instead of being relegated to the backgrounds as in the BUFFY
The minor problem here is Spike talking nonstop about his
feelings for Buffy, which takes up most of the first issue. Obviously, Gischler
needs to express what the protagonist is going through, but the dialogue steers
close to annoying. As Spike mumbles on and on about the girl that got away, he
starts to actually sound whiny. Spike chose to leave Buffy because he did not
want to be the dark place she runs to when things aren’t working; he should at
least man up and accept the consequences of his decisions.
In his artwork, Paul Lee pays close attention to certain
poses of James Marsters’ performances. In a medium shot, when Spike is smoking
inside his spaceship, the panel looks quite similar to something seen from the
BUFFY television series. Lee also brings out the quirky humor to Gischler’s
storyline. In a single page and without any dialogue, Lee uses the body
movements of the space monsters to tell readers what they are thinking. With
just smiles and hand gestures, readers automatically know the monsters are
planning to break into Spike’s spaceship.
Readers will be glued to the pages during the transitions of
Cris Peter’s colors. When the alien bugs appear in the panel, they are all
covered in different tones of green. The interiors of the spaceship appear old
and rusted, as if the ship itself has taken a tumble over the years. To show
that the alarms have sounded off, the panels are filtered in shades of red
during Spike’s battle with the space monsters.
SPIKE: A DARK PLACE #1 is definitely a fun read for both new
and old BUFFY fans. The amusing mix of comedy, sci-fi and horror will keep
readers entertained, and though there are a few rough spots, it demonstrates
that Spike can indeed carry his own title.
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