Spike is such a good bloke. The loyal boyfriend. A guy who just wants to chill out and do the right thing. Spike is the James Dean of comics. But he’s got his blind spot, doesn’t he? Can we all say what it is together? Buffy! Yes, that’s right. Maybe if Spike hadn’t been such a mopey mope, the lost man on the dark side of the moon, he would have been more on his game when he and his loyal band of bugs were overtaken by a mob of fish-like demon thugs.
What is remarkable, two issues into “A Dark Place,” is how well Spike commands the comics page of an excellent unfolding story. The art here (Paul Lee, pencils; Andy Owens, inks), panel per panel, is vivid and memorable stuff. And the writing by Victor Gischler is true to the character of Spike and very energetic. The issue runs smooth with excellent timing due to the stellar art team and to Mr. Gischler, who has mad skills in crime fiction like his novel, “Gun Monkeys,” and comics skills, like his work on X-Men. This is prime comics. We’ve got Spike’s spot on swagger, the bug crew plotting his rescue, these wicked bad guys, and that’s just the build up. I’m so impressed with the attention to detail. You can really feel like you’re inside that blimp, navigating down all its narrow hallways. You can really feel for Spike as he’s restrained by a giant frog with its enormous tongue wrapped around him and, all the while, he doesn’t lose his cool.
Once Spike gets a whiff of what his captors have in mind, to take back as many shards as they can find of The Seed, well, it’s time for a game of matching wits. Spike, the one with all the wit, claims to be a valuable asset to his captors and will lead them back to Sunnydale where they are sure to find all the remains to The Seed that they can carry.
Once they get there, all shards have been spoken for. As any self-respecting fan is already aware of, what they do find is something that Spike will find the most interesting. If this feels like a spoiler for some of you, then stop reading now. All that I will say is that there’s a bodacious rival for Spike’s affections that appears to emerge in this issue. Her name is Morgan. She only has the first name, like Cher. She makes a pretty hot entrance. She has instant appeal, like a revamped Betty Page. However, as Victor Gischler explains on his blog: “Just remember, it’s a 5-issue story arc. Lots can happen!” The art below comes from his blog:
Here’s the thing: Why not have Morgan be the game changer? Let her take over Buffy’s place for an indefinite amount of time. Maybe even have her turn directly against Buffy. In time, they might even become allies. Lots of possibilities. But we’re getting way ahead of ourselves, aren’t we? No Spike and Buffy fan wants to see that Spike has moved on, is at least testing things out, or do they? That sort of thinking could lead to some pretty awesome comics! Why build something interesting up, take it to the very edge, and then abruptly retreat? Oh, but it’s just comics, right? Well, no, we’re dealing here with comics that are a cut above just comics. So, we shall see.
Oh, and something big does happen on the last page. Isn’t that always the way? So, who knows if Spike and Morgan will even have much time to really get acquainted, at least in this story.
“Spike #2” is out September 19. Visit Dark Horse Comics.