Review: Spike #1 - A Dark Place, Pt. 1


Having fought to regain his soul after falling in love with the Slayer Buffy, the once-terrifying vampire villain Spike has been a bit less fearsome (to humans, at least). On his own adventure, Spike is forced to examine the man he once was, the man he is now, and the man he still hopes to become.

As master of a steampunk ship filled with loyal, oversized alien cockroaches, Spike embarks on a journey to the dark side of the moon, setting into motion an adventure filled with demons, witches, and others who brew new evil in the world without magic!

* Spike visits the dark side!


This issue checks in at 32 pages, and feels like it's caught between being the introduction to a new series and a a spin-off from Buffy Season 9. A lot of backstory is re-hashed, with Spike spending pages upon pages lamenting his latest split from Buffy. But as draggy as that can get, the issue assumes a certain knowledge of what's been going on with Spike post-Angel Season 5 (and even post-After the Fall) that a new reader can't exactly jump in either.

It's this in-betweeness that makes the issue suffer, but also leaves me hopeful that future issues of this mini-series will be significantly more snappy. Writer Victor Gischler does a good job capturing Spike's personality, particularly the comedic beats, so long as it's not the "Buffy-whipped" Spike that tries to break through every now and then.

Paul Lee's art is good, and colorist Cris Peters does some great things with shading to show various perspectives (through windows, alarms going off, etc.). Lee's character models are different enough from regular series artist Georges Jeanty that he gets to put his own stamp on this miniseries, but not so dissimilar as to be jarring. There are two covers to this issue, one by Jenny Frison (pictured) and one by Steve Morris. Frison's cover art is always stunning, and nearly reason enough to pick up this issue (especially if you're a Spike or James Marsters fan).

I do have to be honest, I'm kind of sick of the bugs. They were an interesting twist when first introduced, but now I'm pretty much over them, which is unfortunate since they play a HUGE role in this issue, and probably this miniseries. The subtitle of this series is "A Dark Place", and the bugs seem to be keeping Spike out of that dark place, which is where the character tends to be better.
The issue ends on a cliffhanger, which I can only assume will be resolved quickly in the next issue, hopefully in ass-kicking fashion. Because while dark, mopey Spike can be a good character, I'm much more interested in confident, man-of-action Spike.

Score: 3.5 out of 5.