Saturday, April 6, 2013

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike—A Dark Place by Gischler and Lee

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike—A Dark Place is a graphic novel by Victor Gischler and Paul Lee.  The events take place sometime after BtVS S8.  The adventures begin on the dark side of the moon, hence the title, and things quickly spiral beyond Spike’s control.  As is typical of his character, however, he does manage to maintain his cool, or loses it when it is most convenient in several well drawn fight sequences.  But is it a gratifying read for the die-hard Buffy fan?

Frankly, you’d have to be a die hard to find much pleasure in this attempt at keeping the story alive.  Spike does occasionally say some things that are spot on familiar but so much so that I’m positive they are derivative rather than original.  (Okay, I did like the V C Andrews reference.  One point to the writer for that.)  When Spike meets Morgan, a succubus who has her own agenda, one event leads to another and, when the graphic novel is finished, Spike is pretty much where he belongs in the scheme of things. 

If you haven’t been keeping up with the Buffy-verse and don’t know what Spike has been up to, you may be somewhat confused at first.  You’ll be even more confused if you haven’t read BtVS: S8.  This book simply isn’t meant to be read without some context and that is, in my opinion, its greatest weakness.  It relies too much on what should be known and doesn’t bring much new to the table.   I don’t know if this is intentional but there are elements of a ‘segue’ story arch in this book meaning that it reads as if the writers were trying to get Spike to a particular place physically, emotionally, narratively, so that they could get the story where they want and need for it to be.  When done brilliantly, the reader won’t notice.  When done well but only adequately, the end result is evident but still somewhat gratifying.  This graphic novel was good but not good enough for me to go out of my way to buy it and if I don’t want to own something that has to do with a character I love in a series I love then I can’t help but feel it failed at some fundamental level.   Not even the artwork, which is good but not as good as I’ve seen in other Whedonverse books, is enough to inspire me to purchase this book.  Oh well.  Maybe next time.

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