Is “It’s not as bad as I expected” a valid review?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike - A Dark Place TPB
Written By: Victor Gischler
Pencils By: Paul Lee & Andy Owens
Published By: Dark Horse Comics
Confession time: I wasn’t going to read this comic. Yes, I love the Buffy-verse, even with Season 8, and Spike is by far the better of the two vampires with a soul, but if you look up you’ll see the two words that struck fear in my heart when it comes to properties I love; Victor Gischler. As anyone in the writer’s room, any viewer of my RUviews, or any innocent by-stander in a comic book store can tell you, I hate Victor Gischler. Of all the new writers to pop up over the past couple years, he is the one that I not only avoid, but actively despise. Victor Gischler is responsible for curing me of my X-Men completionism and he almost cured my Deadpool addiction as well. In short, I am not a fan of his writing. But then I saw the review copy and my love of free things combined with my love of Buffy/Spike won out.
You know what, this wasn’t half bad.
To catch you up on Buffy Season 8: Buffy and the Scoobies had to destroy this realms connection to and Spike ended up with a spaceship full of sentient bugs. Does that make sense? If not, don’t worry, even those of us who read Season 8 didn’t understand any of it. All you need to know is there is no new magic and Spike is the master of a steampuck type spaceship piloted by gigantic cockroaches. The whole space-ship thing works really well in the Buffy-verse and Spike’s relationship with the bugs reminds me of how he and Andrew got along in Season 7.
A Dark Place is an interlude in the purest sense of the word. After leaving Buffy in her own Season 9 book, Spike takes off to find define himself separate from The Slayer, “I don’t want to be the dark place you run to when things aren’t working,” and ends up sunbathing (some sort of cool glass that doesn’t set him on fire) and drinking whiskey on the moon. Cause he’s Spike, that’s why. Enter the bad guys. Spike and his crew are forced by some ugly demons to fly to Sunnydale and re-open the Hellmouth so they can go home. Problem is, that Sunnydale and its Hellmouth go bye-bye and the all the shards of the Seed of Wonder – the object Buffy et al. shattered thus bringing about the end to magic – have, those not tossed into the sun, already been picked by scavengers and the like. But that’s cool, because waiting for them at the Hellmouth is a succubus who, after helping Spike get rid of the MacGuffins, starts us on our real journey, to open a different Hellmouth (no, not the one in Cleveland.) From there adventure abounds; intrigue, betrayals, space bugs firing big guns, and a fair amount of moping around.
To insinuate that you have o read this to understand anything else going on in Season 9 would be disingenuous. On the flip side, you don’t need to know anything beyond what I’ve already told you from Season 8 or 9 to enjoy this book.
Victor Gischler succeeded in not ruining another character / franchise I love. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that he did a good job on this book. It “felt” like a Buffy story; the humor, the swagger, the odd usage of the English language, all of it was true to the characters. It was also nice to have an opportunity to hang with the bugs again in a setting that I understood what the Hell was going on.
Paul Lee’s art is some of the best I’ve seen in the Buffy comics. One of the major problems with Season 8 was not being able to tell who anyone was from page to page, let alone book to book. Paul Lee maintains the style that ties all the Buffy books together but is distinct enough to recognize not only the characters but also what they are doing.
This did not turn me into a Victor Gischler fan, but maybe he’s not completely worthless. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike - A Dark Place is a welcomed addition to the Season 9 story and a fun distraction from the more dramatic books associated with this franchise.
Written or Contributed by GHERU
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