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Spike Comic Review - issues 6-8 - Tying up Loose Ends

Due to popular demand (okay eight people, between two journals, but in my journal that equals popular demand, also it's not like anyone's counting), I'm doing a review/recap of the last three issues of the Spike comics. Luckily for me, I actually enjoyed these comics and the message. And yes, there may be some sniping at the Buffy comics...but I'll try really really hard to refrain.

The theme of these comics hits close to home for both me and I suspect for the writer...who lost his cushy gig writing Spike comics last year. I can relate.

Spike voice over in issue 8 - the last issue:

Took on the Vegas Mission because I was sick of playing second banana, sick of being along for the ride. I wanted to steer the coaster. But no one steers the coaster. No one is in control of anything. Innocents become dangerous. Heroes can turn on a dime. Sometimes, evil can do an about-face and want to help. People come into your life. People leave. Everything's changing. Everything's always changing. Bottom line. The only thing any one of us is in charge of is ourselves.

Simple message. And my current mantra. Okay not all of it. Everything after the word coaster. It's what has gotten me through the tough times. And it to a degree defines this incarnation of the Spike character and what I love most about him. Or may explain why I adore him to pieces - that mantra above. The post-modern existentialist hero. The character who looks fate in the eye, and gives him the finger. My fate is my own. I own my choices. The legacy I leave are the choices I've made, for good or ill. I control no one but me. And that's enough.

Spike: Part 6 - Something Borrowed

The issue starts with Willow flushing the demon out of poor Jeremy - the innocent friend of Spike's who keeps being used against him. Jeremy in some respects reminds Spike of his human self, poet/geek William. Romantic. Not "physically" powerful. Spike in short has a soft spot for him. So villains are able to use Jeremy against him, repeatedly. Jeremy is also the character that Spike couldn't save in hell. (Illyria snapped his neck before he could be changed into a rotting zombie by the villain, but since nothing in hell really happened - Jeremy is fine.) So Spike keeps repeating that event in different ways.

This bit also reasserts the theme of control over events and oneself. The idea that innocence can be dangerous. Jeremy is dangerous. And the idea that Jeremy is not himself, the demon can do whatever he wants and Spike can't kill him or allow anyone else too. Jeremy remains the damsel - Spike's weak point. Or at least one of them.

Demon: What are you Doing?
Willow: Gotta be honest. This is the part that may hurt a lot.
Demon: Wuh, Wuh
Willow: For better or worse, it's done.
Spike: Good work, witch.
Snake: I dun I dun understan. Hands! Hands! Where are my hands? Somebody!
Willow: I'm right here. It's going to be okay. We're kind of in a rush, so I'm going to hit you with very big news, very very quickly. You were a demon. You possessed one of Spike's friends. I flushed you out into the nearest corpse, which, and this is awkward, was roadkil.
(Okay, can Brian Lynch be the only one who gets to write Willow from now on? I miss this Willow. She's smart, and sweet, and powerful and adult and doesn't talk like she's still fifteen.) I'm really sorry! Just, you know, under a bit of a time crunch, but you still have mental powers, right?
Demon snake: Go to hell.
Willow: If a telepathic dead snake is gonna make it anywhere, it's Las Vegas! Oh you don't want to join Spike's team, do you?
Demon snake: Again, go to hell.

(Me chortling with laughter.)

Spike explains to Jeremy the sitch and strongly suggests that they drop him off at the nearest hospital or a gas station, whichever is closest. Jeremy, being somewhat niave and innocent, insists he can help. He does however ask first if Illyria is here. Bright move. Considering she broke his neck the last time. Spike informs Willow of the good news.

Willow: Any power?
Jeremy: Uh, I kinda know some karate.
Willow: If you want a Xander on your team, that's fine. That's sweet, and we'll need help because the switcharoo left me winded. But we're not bringing "her".
Spike: I know. I told you not to tell HER you were coming here. Did you tell HER...Will, I don't want to see HER, not now...(Spike's head is bowed as Willow whispers. Very shippy moment by the way. If I were a Spuffy shipper, I'd be happy, oh wait, I am, never mind.)
Willow: Not HER! Her.
Jeremy: You guys have an old friend shorthand that's really endearing and alienating. (LOL! I'm actually more of a Spike/Willow friendship shipper. I still haven't forgiven Mutant Enemy for not doing more scenes between these two in S7. Seriously, why did we spend all that time with Andrew, Kennedy and Wood (okay maybe not so much Andrew) - introducing new characters in the final chapter of a tv series or book is really stupid and evidence of bad writing. Why writers keep insisting on doing it, I'll never know.)
Spike (finally getting it): I'll keep an eye on Dru. She'll be fine. This is the "new" Spike, I'm in control. (Poor boy, no one is ever in control of Drusilla.) Drusilla! Over here. (he proceeds to treat her like a dog, which would be grating if it weren't for the fact that she treats him like one too. That's just the nature of their relationship.) Drusilla - You stick close. You do what I say. Anything you do to anyone on our side, I'll do to you Ten-fold. That was not innuendo.
[Note - the part of Drusilla now appears to be being played by Ann Hathaway with a touch of Juliet Landau or Juliet with a reddish brown wig, not perfect but a huge improvement. The problem with the character of Drusilla - is everyone has S2 Dru stuck in their heads. Also a heck of a lot of fanfic writers have written her a bit one-dimensionally and are convinced that's the character. Personally? She worked in this issue and the other two for me. But I've also taken a lengthy sabbatical from both the fandom and the tv that may be part of the reason.]
Dru: I'll be church-girl good.
Spike: One thing. Why are you so bloody happy?
Dru: I killed that snake. He was a bad man. He popped into my head while I was doing it, pleading and angry. It was lovely.
Spike (fore-head-palm):Right. Okay then.

And off they go.

This is when sub-plot line 2 is re-introduced. There are two plotlines in these comics. Plot-line one is clearly the comic that Lynch wanted to write - a last hurrah for his boy so to speak. Plot-line two is clearly Lynch and IDW's incredibly professional and rather sporting attempt to not only link their comics to Dark Horse's but also make sense of Dark Horse's insane plot and wacky character actions for both Spike and Angel. This involves a lot of explanation and exposition - which by the way is delivered in the way that one should write this stuff (ie. not lecturing people in a spaceship or library for five pages). Maybe Whedon can hire Brian Lynch to write all his exposition. This herculean effort on the part of IDW and Lynch should receive a round of applause, considering they did not have to do this. I know why they chose to do it - to sell more copies and look good to fans. So let's all take a moment to applaud IDW for their smart professionalism and business sense. Okay, moment passed.

Just in case you forgot that Wolfram and Hart were the reasons Spike boogied his way up to Vegas, up they pop again and yes they are the string-pullers of sub-plot two otherwise known as the explanation for the Twangel and the bug ship.

Lilah in a burned out shell of the WRH offices in LA(if you want someone to provide boring exposition - this is your gal): So our time in Vegas lasted even shorter than our time in Los Angeles. Round of applause. Everyone. You were supposed to do a slow roll-out. Build the power. Make connections and intimidate the neighbors. Well flash forward five minutes later and the place is barely standing.
Old Bearded Guy (who makes me think of mix between Santa Claus and Gepetto): When they opened Disneyland in 1955, nothing worked.
Lilah: You got pummeled from an inside hire! (John) And the vampire's sidekick torched the place (Beck). That's a beatdown from the sidekick of a sidekick (Spike apparently is either Angel or Buffy's sidekick. Hee. Sidekick's rule. Angel never accomplished that.)

(This by the way is actually a rather good artistic rendering of Lilah. I knew it was her, which is admittedly tough to do. But just in case we can't figure it out - the writer is kind enough to give us her name. Thank you.)

She goes on to inform the remaining board members of the now defunct Las Vegas branch that they need to get their resumes and client lists together to beg for their continued existence (not just with WRH but well literally. There's an one way ticket out of WRH and it's not up.) This plotline will pop up again later. It also works thematically with the whole idea of things being out of your control. WRH hasn't been able to control anything.

Back to plotline #1. John, WRH's successful attempt to distract Spike, hey at least one thing worked, is busy still doing that albeit with his own agenda. He has Beck and Betta George captive, although Betta George appears to sort of be helping him...if only to keep Beck and himself alive. We also learn why John wants his soul back and why he's so upset that Spike took it. Note - Spike did not take John's soul, the demon gave Spike his own soul back, which meant John lost his. John, a serial killer prior to losing his soul, wants it back because without it he doesn't enjoy killing nearly as much. Something's missing. The thrill, the rush, the adrenaline boost of knowing he's doing something wrong. Without the's sort of empty.

Here's theme two - the examination of what a soul means or rather what Lynch thinks it means. The problem with the whole soul bit - is it is confusing. Whedon could never make up his mind what it meant to have a soul - I'm guessing because Whedon doesn't really believe in them. As a result, we jump from metaphor to metaphor throughout the series, with little consistency. In short the soul means whatever the dang writer wants it to at any given time. OTOH - it is rather interesting in a way - all these metaphors and examinations on what it means to have a soul in the whedonverse. You jump from one philosophical point of view to the next. People have written lengthy essays on this stuff.

My favorite - was the mediation on souls in S4-S7 of the Buffy series. My least favorite and the most cliche use of the soul metaphor was S1-3 of the Buffy series. The mediations in Angel the Series - which really equates the loss of the soul with being permanently drunk...I was never quite sure of. Lynch appears to prefer the drunk metaphor..

In short, Lynch's view of the soul - is that it in of itself does not make you capable of being good or evil. What it does is provide you with the ability to feel connected to others, to the world. Not entirely a conscience, more ephemeral than that. A connection. The soul is your ghost. Your spirit. Without his soul John doesn't feel that extra kick. Without it, you are numb. Drunk. On meds.

John: You saw it right? It was horrible. I gutted the bastard and I'm still numb. My soul would give the heart a little jump, a little 'you shouldn't be doing this' a slap on the wrist for a job well done. But now, well...kind of a kick to watch, but it felt like a third party was having all the fun.

Spike and gang pop up courtesy of Willow who teleports them through the floor. They all fight. Then Betta George, just when Spike gets the upper hand, drags some memories front and center - Spike burning in Sunnydale, Spike at WRH, upset about something. This part by the way is confusing. George is attempting to tell Spike that he's walking into a trap without saying it. Finally, tells him to just look down. On the floor is a seal that John has drawn and is attempting to get Spike to cross - because once he does - he'll lose his soul. Spike avoids it, saving Beck and she engages him in a kiss, which distracts him and enrages Dru - who actually looks more like Dru here. Spike attempts to tell Beck that he's not in love with her, but she stops him saying, I know, but let me have the moment. That's enough for John to stab Spike in the back and drag him over the seal. (Innocence is dangerous indeed. Beck's innocence regarding Spike and power has been a problem from the start. Spike keeps thinking he can guide her, he can't.) Dru at the same time, attacks Jeremy.

Dru: Let it happen, Spike needs it out.
John: I know my soul isn't going to be restored or anything. That's asking too much. Of you. Well aware that I won't feel the same again. But knowing you won't either. Maybe that'll be enough. Maybe it'll light a spark within -wishful thinking? Could be. Don't fight it, this is how you should be. Who knows maybe we can be friends.

Willow - oh, oh. I know this.

John: how you feeling?
Spike: I, I feel empty. I was good.
John: I know. That's over.
Spike: Not what I meant. Before I fought for my soul. I fought evil when evil was inside of me. Before I met her...even after I knew her...I did terrible things. (what, we can't use Buffy's name in the Spike comics? So unfair.) But she made me want to be better. The evil was strong. Heart was stronger. Before it was official. Before the goddamned voodoo. I was good. That glowy ball. That thing you've had a hard-on to tear from me? Hang it on your wall. Bronze it. I don't need it.

In short, souls don't make you good or evil. You choose to be what you are. Fate doesn't choose it for you. It's the key difference between Spike and Angel, Angel is well such an "angel" - he doesn't choose, like real angels he lets god or the powers or WRH or the Master choose for him. He's obsessed with control because he doesn't feel he has any over himself. Feeling powerless himself, he seeks to assert it constantly over others. His father continues to haunt him to such a degree that he remakes himself into the image of the man he hated and loved. Spike in contrast - breaks free, seeks to create himself, trading clothes, fighting the desire to ring pavlov's bell, fighting the dictates of society, the joker, the wild card, the trickester, fate doesn't control him - he controls his own fate. It's why WRH can't figure out what to do with him - he doesn't acknowledge their power or the PTB's over him. He's the character who looks up at the writer and says, frak you, you don't control my destiny, I will do what I want, and screw up your story in the process. The existentialist post-modern hero at his best.

Willow emphasizes it - by telling Spike, he chooses. Willow is a lot like him. The powers don't control her, no one gave her power, she chose it, she controls it, it does not control her.

"You lost your soul. You choose who gets theirs."

That's the confusing bit. Note - who gets their soul, not who gets Spike's. It works this way - one loses their own soul and another gets their own. The one who loses their soul - gets to choose who gets theirs. That's not the spell that gave Spike back his - that was a bit different, we don't know what that spell was just that it cost John his soul. This is a new spell created by Lynch.

Spike chooses to give it to Drusilla or rather give Dru back her soul.

Back to plot #2 - where Lilah begins to reveal WRH's endplan, and the storylines come together a bit more. Lilah informs Evil Santa Claus or Mr. Clifton that he's gotten a reprieve. Apparently he has the ability to handle cross-dimensional communications and alternate lifeforms. And here's the explanation:

Lilah: I'm sure you've heard the locker-room talk. Let me spell it out for you. Wolfram & Hart has done untold damage to this universe. The moment in hell, the aiding in C-level evil, we seriously screwed with the re-sell value. (I'm guessing we're discussing the whole James arc in the Angel comics?). We also, and this is the part we need to keep hush-hush, have set the stage for something bigger making its way here. All this time we thought we were the big show. Turns out we're warm-up, there are big changes coming, and we're not, to be blunt, not a part of it (Very good mention of Twilight without mentioning Twilight). So we're getting off the stage. We're moving on. And Mr. Clifton, this is bigger than anything we've tried before. Step one - finding the proper exit strategy.

In short - WRH after preparing the way for Twilight, is vamoosing or skipping town. Wise move. Now, we know what happened to them or where they went. They didn't get sucked into a dimension or lose their powers, they skipped town in the bug ship or at least that's the plan.

Part 7: Give and Take - Spike

Where we left off - Lilah proceeds to explain said plan to Clifton and it's actually clear and entertaining exposition.

Clifton: It's not a space ship, per se. It's not from space. Not that it can't go into space, no reason it can't. (someone has been watching Doctor Who).
Lilah: you love this ship.
Clifton: Well, it's a great ship. It's capable of flight, obviously, subterranean travel (or watching Buckaroo Bonzai), and, and are you ready for this it can go interdimensional. (Definitely Buckaroo Bonzai.)
Lilah: Interdimensional.
Clifton: It can jump between dimensions. That thing can go anywhere. I told you its advanced. (so can its escape pod apparently.)
Lilah: Yes, we know, that's why we want it.
Clifton: You want it?
Lilah: Well, I don't. I'm not going to use it. But they said I get the ball rolling on this and I'm free. So yes, I want them to get it. And we need you to step on up and spearhead the takeover.

(So we also know what happens to Lilah. Apparently Brian Lynch is also a Lilah shipper.)

The art on these next few pages is quite good, surprisingly good in fact. I was blown away by it. We see what happens when Spike gives the soul to Dru and how both react to it. He's frozen, and she's shattered. The perspective, the use of color and shadow and framing? WOW. It's hard to describe - but yellow is used for the letter boxes which are stepped, then framed closeup of Spike's profile, where he looks stoically pained, small boxes showing what else is happening, his other choices - why he did it. Jeremy with Willow, she's reached him and is helping him after Dru let him go in the nick of time. John holding the knife on Beck and Beck is right - soul or no soul, John would have killed her anyway, he'd just enjoy it more with the soul. And finally Dru. Then background frame of Dru forward in pain, she almost comes out of the page, and Spike behind. It feels three dimensional. Pitch perfect. If you know anything about art or perspective and taken classes in this stuff, which I have, and tried to do it yourself - you'll realize why. [I'd scan it in to show you - but I always screw up my printer when I scan, so you'll just have to trust me.]

Spike: So, I stepped on a seal. As these things go, soul was ripped out of me. Felt. Tingely. Still a Champion (god I hate that word - me, not Spike). Not the point. The Witch knows her magic. She knows that whatever the voodoo behind it (don't know, don't care - spike, and well, me too)Also allows me to reward someone. 'Give a soul, take a soul'. John wanted his soul back. So he could enjoy the thrill of the kill again. I didn't go out that door. I gave the soul...[we see a picture of Drusilla bent over burning with the soul) to Drusilla.
Drusilla: Deep, deep, deep..ripping everything everything apart. Everything to ribbons. Far inside, burning, it's burning, pluck it out, lift the stone, drowning.

Spike bereft, states to Willow who goes towards Dru to help..."It was...I didn't know what else to do."
Willow: There are worse things than making her understand what she's done.
And Spike explains or attempt to explain what having a soul means: It goes beyond that Will. Not having a soul protected her. Shielded her. I tore her amour clean off. Not having a soul. Protected her, shielded her. What did I do?
Willow: You saved your friend. She was attacking Jeremy, Spike. You did what you had to do.

Dru tries to convince Willow to remove it. But Willow can't. She collasps in Willows arms.

And then John explains Dru's odd lucidity when we first see her again, why she doesn't seem like Dru. "Moment in hell changed her, Spike. She told me. What everyone else called hell, she called home. By the time Wolfram and Hart got to her, she wasn't what they expected. For the first time in hundreds of years, she was lucid. Drusilla was sane. Of course WRH didn't want her too altered. If she wasn't the Drusilla you knew, she couldn't properly screw with you like they wanted, so they slipped her the meds. But she fought it. She was slipping, but she was holding on. Once I took care of you, I was going to bring that Drusilla back. I was going to save her - but now. Look at her. You knocked Drusilla right back down. You destroyed her all over again."

The loss of one's own agency - drugs/meds, loss of control or inability to control brought up again. It's no accident that Lynch chose Willow to be the one to help Spike in this - Willow =Will, William=Will. Two characters who against all odds, assert their own will, own agency, own power.

[While the art is admittedly sketchy in places, the facial expressions are wonderful and the best I've seen in comics in quite a while. Also there's a rather wonderful frame of Spike on these pages.]

Spike and John fight. And Spike provides his own counter-speech. A rather good one:

Wow, Mate, hearing you talk really makes things clear. And stop playing the white knight. You're a killer moaning on about another killer. (A lucid/sane Dru is not necessarily a good thing - if you read the Dru two-issue one shot, you know what I mean.). I'm sorry she's broken. I'm sorry for what we did all those years. I'm sorry it took so long to fight my way back. I'm sorry they made you think we're connected. I'm sorry Wolfram & Hart teamed you up to get under my skin. I'm sorry...but I can't take it back. It happened. Let's all agree to stop whining about it.

See, here's the thing - as demonstrated so well in the Being Human series with Mitchell (who is the latest and perhaps best incarnation of the long-suffering brooding vampire attempting to go off blood and be redeemed, but just can't do it), but also to a degree in the Angel and Buffy series - brooding on your past crimes, saying how guilty you feel isn't really all that different than a drunk sitting a bar moaning about all the people he killed while driving or all the people he hurts while being drunk. Guilt in of itself is a rather useless emotion - if you don't take action to change. Spike looked at himself, didn't like what he saw or what he did, and changed. Was he perfect? No. Did he keep screwing up on occasion, yes. But everyone does. You can't change the past. You can only learn from it and try not to repeat the same mistake in the future.

Jeremy has his own epithany, wondering why he thought he could help - all he's done is make things worse. But Willow tells him to give himself a break. Meanwhile Dru asks Willow if it can ever be all alright.

Dru: Never going to be right - done can't be undone. Done can't be undone. They're laughing at me! Up there, they mock me. They know I'll never be welcome. Nails Dug deep, but dragging and scraping you.
Willow: Are you talking to me or someone only you can see?
Dru: You. Willow. Tell me something...Cold. Dead. Made them that way. I pushed Spike away. Will I forget about them? I have time. I have all the time...
Willow (distraught and empathetic, looks at Dru and then away...): No.

It can't be undone. But we can't forget either. It haunts. Even Spike.

Spike's still trying to fight off John, can't keep a good villain down. John tells him he can wait him out.

Spike: Waiting me out? Obviously haven't reached the chapter on immortality in the big book of vampire, but allow me to spoil it for you. (Big temporal rift opens causing shaking and weirdness in the case of the art a sort of blurred and faded palet). What the hell is that? Not going back to hell, are we? That was a bloody hassle. (Notes Vegas is lighting up in a weird way with lightening striking it.) Wolfram and Hart making a move while John and Dru distract. Plans really coming together good on them.

Plotline 1 and 2 come together here or begin to, as plotline one starts rolling to a close.

Spike doesn't kill John though. Dru does. She pushes her fist through his chest and I think removes his heart or punches it. Guessing the later, since he's just dying not quite dead.

John: "That, that...I felt that, here." He touches his heart and dies, while she smiles.

Spike tries to apologize.

Dru: Don't want to talk to you. Just want it out. (meaning the soul of course.)

Spike takes her into the seal, and the soul passes out of her, a bright yellow ball, glowing. "Say my name, love".

Drusilla says: SPIKE.

[Again inconsistent art - Spike is drawn better than Dru here. But I think he's easier, she's harder. Some of the art is weirdly off, some is mind-blowingly good. It's amazing. Jumps back and forth. Making me think drawing for comics is a heck of a lot harder than it looks.]

Final scene between Willow and Spike basically tells me what I've been trying to get out of the Buffy comics for the last five years.

Spike: Go here. Best not to tell them I sent you. (He's telling her to take Dru to Mosaic, an other-worldly insane asylum, which may or may not still exist now that there's no magic).
Willow: You don't need me to -? (She means help with WRH)
Spike: Go home. Check in with Sergeant Summers. (Sergeant???)
Willow: Speaking of, Spike...She knows you're alive. She asked around a lot. Kicked in many doors. Said she had to make sure. (Well, well...apparently Brian Lynch felt that particular hanging plot line needed to be wrapped up too. Nice to know it wasn't just me. I wonder if Dark Horse is paying Mr. Lynch to wrap up all their hanging plot-threads which annoyed me to no end. (note - I was never that annoyed by the bank robbery - we all have our priorities)). So don't worry, I'll tell her you were a great leader. A true champion. I'll paint quite the picture.

[Can we just take a moment here to applaud Mr. Lynch for wrapping up in a few short sentences what Mr. Whedon could not be bothered to do in five years and 40 issues worth of comics? This was all I wanted folks! Just this. Nothing fancy. Just one brief little statement. Thank you, Mr. Lynch. You get a chocolat bar. Okay then. Moment passed.]

Spike: Will...Let's keep this between us. This was our thing. (He hugs her. One willful and supernatural side-kick to another. I adore these two characters to pieces. I could happily read the adventures of Willow and Spike. Also the artist's rendering of Willow on this page is really good and quite adult and attractive, she actually looks like Ally (Allison Hannigan) does now, not like she did when she was in her early 20s (Ally was 22 when Buffy started). She looks like an adult.)

I don't know, that felt like a rather shippy speech to me actually. We're told that Buffy did care, certainly enough to make sure he was still alive. But she backed off, because he clearly didn't want her to know. We're also told that he cares - a great deal, about Buffy, still. She's still the love of his life. But his journey lies elsewhere as does her's. It's what I wanted. It works for me. This is the closure that I needed for that ship.

But we're not done. Well, we are, but just with Plot-line #1, we still need to tie in the books with the Buffy books afterall. Betta George who reiterates one of the major important lines:

It happened, let's agree to stop whining about it. Seriously, dude, I'm getting that embroidered onto a pillow.

(I might too.) And oh, least we forget? Fight WRH.

Part Eight: Stranger Things

Spike: I've lead a long life. I've seen a lot. Black plague? Front-row seat. (Huh? Wait, I'm pretty sure the Black Plague happened long before the 1880s and the Victorian Age. I could be wrong, but I don't believe Spike was born before 1800. He was after all only 26 when he was turned in 1880. I think it was 1880, might have been 1890. At any rate it was well after the Black Plague - that was a medieval thing. Lynch is confusing Spike with Darla. And even Darla doesn't quite go back that far. Spike was the Victorian Age, hello.) Woodstock? Demonic Puppet Show? An Entire City Gone to Hell? Yes, yes, and yes. But I gotta admit, if someone told me, hey Spike, you think you're ever gonna witness bugs joyride their starcruiser smack dab into the vegas strip, I'd say...actually all things considered, I'd say, yeah, probably, why, when's that happening? What time would be good for you? Turns out, despite not being good for anyone today is day. And just like that...I long for the days of simple demonic overlords.

(Spike proceeds to order them to stay behind him and get ready to...)

Friends: What? We're to What?
Spike: Open to suggestions, actually.


The weird crickets in space-suits pop up. Urru is actually better at drawing them than Jeanty. But Mooney is better at drawing Spike as is Nick Runge (whose cover art for issue 7 (Spike in his long black duster, lighting cigarette with crows making up his shadow or in the shadow of black birds) and issue 6 are amazing (great rendering of Willow), blows Urru out of the water and Chen for that matter). Urru and Jeanty soften the edges of Spike's face, which is problematic. Although Urru's Spike I rather like and I like the soft blended painted style. Not as striking, but quite pretty.

The bugs are rather funny. They appear to be giant crickets here not cockroaches. And are green not gold.

King Bug: Denizens of this domain! Explain yourselves! Why have you violently summoned us here?
Lt. Bug: Do you hear my King, frakers? We want answers or there will be blood shed. (It's not frakers, I just have no patience for typing a bunch of weird symbols).
King Bug: I didn't say anything about bloodshed.

Spike attempts to negotiate, and is making headway. Sort of. But WRH fire on them. Spike tries to save the King Cricket, but fails.

Spike: Still so many humans everywhere. Plus, the Bugs, now I gotta worry about the safety of the damn bugs. (Okay in Lynch's world the hero worries about the humans and the bugs, in Whedon's world the hero worries only about their nearest and dearest.)
Lt. Bug: Sire! I have to insist we do not let him on our ship!
Spike: Fine you insist out here. We'll be inside. Call if you get bored.

Long story short - because I'm getting tired and do you really care about the blow-by-blow of the Bug battle - King Bug gets killed. But before he does we FINALLY get an explanation about what the bugs are and why they call Spike Majesty and what he's doing with them.

King Bug to Spike: Tell them what to do. My men are hardy. Loyal. But they need guidance. This...was a scout ship. We were sent to find sustainable environment for our people. But while we were on our mission, our home, destroyed, everyone gone. They call me King because I'm highest ranking officer. That's what they need me to be. And right now, they need to be told what to do. We were trying to find a new life. A new purpose. Whatever's trying to get to us, don't let my people die before they discover what that should be. (Something Spike can identify with - the need to find a purpose. Now he gets to be Buffy for Bugs. LOL!)

[Again, let's take a moment to thank Mr. Lynch for taking the time to actually explain Whedon's dangling plot and character threads that make no sense.]

Aww...the poor bug died. A moment of silence for Bug!King. Who ordered the annoying cricket who calls everyone frackers (actually f$#kers - must be annoying not to be able to use the f word in comic books, not sure why - it's not like these aren't violent and sexually suggestive or anything, find it highly amusing that anything goes except for the f word), to listen to Spike and Spike would get them through it. There's another huge battle on board the ship. WRH takes over the ship, with the senior partners on board, ie - the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart literally. They are planning to bug out of here in a bug ship - get it?

The Ram attempts to go after and kill Spike. Beck saves Spike and gets hit by nasty blue electricity instead. Risking her life for his. Aww. Spike clearly upset, states he'll get her help, just has to take care of the Ram. Which he, oddly enough succeeds in stopping, albeit momentarily - or long enough to get through the escape hatch to the pod with the bugs and his friends. Wolf, Ram and Hart - are blue electrical beings and sort of pretty, oops, I mean fearsome. Beck thinking she's dying tells Spike that she risked herself for him because someone always needs him. To which the annoying cricket takes exception and states, actually I liked her better than you.

Clifton tells the Hart, Ram and Wolf that they lost the escape pod. But they don't care - they just want to get the hell out of dodge. They get away. And Spike et all head back to Mosaic with the escape pod. So Spike can drop off Beck for medical assistance and say bye to Dru.

Mosaic isn't happy with Spike. He was supposed to watch over Beck and protect her. Not get her injured saving his life. But the bugs manage to convince her to let him say goodbye to Beck and to Dru.

Beck and Spike have a rather emotional and romantic goodbye. She wants to know when he'll come back. He is pretty vague, in other words he doesn't plan on coming back.

Beck: So let's recap, WRH senior partners hijacked a bug ship and then probably left in it to leave the dimension. (note not just the planet, our dimension).
Spike: Seems like it.
Beck: That's a new wrinkle. Why would they do that?
Spike: Not sure. Thinking about asking them.
Jeremy: Sweet, calling Angel for a big final Battle? Need me to do some recon? From afar? I can, I can go to the library and do research, away from the actual evil. (Can't be worse than Giles and Willow. Actually, wait, that would explain a lot.)
Spike: You can sit this one out, Jeremy. Angel too. (actually, that may not have been such a great idea, if you brought him along...) I've got this one. (on the other hand you may be right, not sure Angel's even in this timeline at the moment.)

So basically Spike's going after WRH to figure out what's going on, bring the bug's ship back, etc. (Go read the Buffy comics if you want to know if he succeeded. Actually don't. I'll save you the effort. He didn't bring back the bug's ship. But he did find out why WRH skipped the hell out of dodge, although sort of sketchy as to when he figured it out - before or after he got back? Guessing he did not succeed regarding WRH and escaped by the hair of his chinny chin chin so to speak.)

Beck tells Spike she loves him.
He can't quite return it...and mumbles: "" He clearly cares for her. But the Spikester is a one-woman man. Unfortunately, his choice in girlfriends don't exactly feel the same way. Fickle sort the women he falls for. They also all appear to have a thing for Angel.

Jeremy invites Spike to his future wedding and is leaning to "the medieval times theme" over "Vegas". Personally, I'd head to Bali and have it on the beach, but that's just me. Betta George figures out that this is really goodbye that the Spikester isn't coming back to them.

His last stop is to Dru. Have to say Moony's Dru looks more like Landau, but this one is sort of dolllike looking. She's in a padded cell surrounded by her dolls and her hairs black again with a blood red dress. He tells her: "These are good people. Don't try and kill them."

Very clearly goodbye to this universe or IDW/Lynch's characters. Jeremy, Beck and Betta George and Mosaic are all owned by Lynch and IDW and therefore can't cross over to DH.

Spike provides the Bugs with a choice - he tells them what he's going to do and they can follow him or not, up to them. They choose to follow. Off to interdimensional space they go - hunting WRH. (This tells us where Spike's been for the last two years, why, and what he's been up to - hunting down WRH in other dimensions. Which explains why he didn't know what was going on with Buffy and Twangle until it was almost too late. But did obtain enough intel to provide all that exposition in issue 35-37.)

Spike says: I want maps, charts, details, on every possible place they could be hiding. Also internet access and a cigarette machine. Go Go Go! (Explains that as well.)

Then he does that speech, which I started this thing with. And his last line oddly enough is the same as Buffy's in issue 40: Let's Get to Work.

The difference? His epiphany is that you can only change yourself. You only can control yourself. Not the world. Not anyone else. No one has that kind of power. And he's providing a purpose and a choice for the bugs, a new life for them, a new calling. It's a rather uplifting ending with an inspiring and uplifting post-modern message. And it manages to explain and wrap up fairly neatly a lot of dangling loose ends regarding Spike in the Buffy comics - which those writers couldn't be bothered with.

1. Where Spike's been - in interdimensional space tracking WRH (who helped set the stage for Twilight and knew about it.)
2. Why Spike was doing it - to figure out what WRH did and to stop them from hurting anyone else.
3. How Spike got the ship - from WRH, which violently brought it here.
4. Does Spike still have his soul? Yes. Does it matter? Yes, but not for the reasons we think. It's about more than conscience. It provides him with the ability to truly feel connected. To be clear-headed about his choices. Sober.
5. Does Buffy know Spike's alive? Yes. And more to the point? She cared enough to make sure on her own without anyone telling her.
6. Why doesn't Spike go to her? He's busy tracking down WRH in another dimension. When he gets back, he does go to her to help.

Overall rating? Oddly? B+ (Not quite an A because of the inconsistent art). So story - A-, inconsistent art a B. A fun ride and a rather decent ending to Spike's journey. Much better than expected. (Your mileage may vary of course).

Okay, I don't know about you. But I'm tired. That took a while. Longer than I'd intended. And a bit too extensive. Basically I read the last three issues of the Spike comics for you, so you don't have to. [ETA: There's a ton of typos, I keep trying to fix them, but I don't think I got them all. So apologies.]

This comment was originally posted at You can comment on it if you see it there or here. [It's edited only over here.]


That was a great re-cap! You actually made me interested in the comics, which I haven't been in a looooong time.
Thanks. A lot more work than expected.

Just the Spike one's right??? (Because if so, too late, they are over with. Well almost, there is a yearbook coming out sometime this month. But I'd skip that.)

Well, I don't think I'll be buying any of them... but you made me interested in reading reviews rather than clicking away. That's a baby step, I think.
Well, if you do? The Spike Trade Paper Back is guaranteed to be cheaper than the Angel or Buffy ones, also a lot more entertaining. And according to the comic book store - worth more money.

I'm not buying any more of them. At least I hope not. ;-)
Thank you so much for your review, and I really wish they had Lynch writing the Buffy comic. He's so much better at writing Spike and heroes in general, that I'm sure his Buffy would be far more recognizable than the unrecognizable blank that Dark Horse has been pretending to be her.
You're welcome. Glad you enjoyed it.
Basically I read the last three issues of the Spike comics for you, so you don't have to.

Thank you Sweetie! I really am glad to know what Our Hero is up to. I'm so glad to know that Buffy did know and did look for him. Also very happy to know that the reason he didn't return to her (even though he still loves her) is that he had a Mission of His Own. Those crazy kids.

As always - you keep me informed and amused. Thanks again!
I just read the last issue today myself. Will come back and read your review later. I probably need to re-read the last few issues first.
Great recap/review... my favorite line of yours:
"It's no accident that Lynch chose Willow to be the one to help Spike in this - Willow =Will, William=Will. Two characters who against all odds, assert their own will, own agency, own power."

my favorite line of Lynch's:
"It happened, let's agree to stop whining about it. Seriously, dude, I'm getting that embroidered onto a pillow"
seriously, words to live by.

I do think the Spike series would have been even better if Brian Lynch had been given all the time he needed to develop his story... he had to truncate the story and wrap it up unnaturally quickly.... BUT I do blame IDW who screwed around w/Angel too much (they had several really terrible Angel series out which I think directly led to IDW losing the franchise, of course I can't prove that...). In fact I should just follow Brian Lynch's advice:
"It happened, let's agree to stop whining about it. Seriously, dude, I'm getting that embroidered onto a pillow"

BUT I do blame IDW who screwed around w/Angel too much (they had several really terrible Angel series out which I think directly led to IDW losing the franchise, of course I can't prove that...). In fact I should just follow Brian Lynch's advice:
"It happened, let's agree to stop whining about it. Seriously, dude, I'm getting that embroidered onto a pillow"

Been thinking much the same thing about the fiasco that was the Buffy S8 Dark Horse comics. Honestly it's a toss-up as to which was worse. ;-)

I've come to the conclusion that the oh-so-guilty-drunk and/or easily possessed addict/vampire character that keeps getting played by external forces and never is quite responsible for his own actions, especially as used as a lead or major character for any lengthy period of time is guaranteed to frak the story completely up eventually. The only series I've seen to date that handled it well was Being Human (UK version).
Either that or I've grown weary of this trope and now just wish the damn writer would stake the bastard and be done with it.
Characters with no sense of humor should not be allowed to live!

(We shall speak of it no more. ;-) )


Brian Lynch loves your review (above), he linked it on twitter:!/angeliclestat/status/68361825770676225
and then said:
"The review I linked really nailed a lot of the stuff I was trying to do in SPIKE. Gonna miss the character. But onwards! #ripbettageorge"!/BrianLynch/status/68370981755953153

wait, RIP BettaGeorge? He's dead now?!?!

Re: congratulations

wait, RIP BettaGeorge? He's dead now?!?!

Not at all. He just won't be seen again. Can't cross over to the Dark Horse comics. And it's sort of pointless to do just a comic on BettaGeorge. I mean you could...but.

Brian Lynch loves your review (above), he linked it on twitter

Thanks for telling me! I'd have never known otherwise.

And Whoa. Did he find it through whedonesque? simonf asked if he could provide a link. Wonder how simonf found it? Not sure if he reads my journal typically and since my usual pimp didn't pimp a link on her lj. (petz). Curious to know who did? The internet...interesting medium.

Rare thing to have a writer read a review you've done of their work and have them actually compliment you on it. Particularly work that you enjoyed. It's that rare bit of connection, which I think we all
search for through our writing, magical when it occurs.

Thank you so much for letting me know!!

Weird to have a writer of a work that I actually liked read a review and respond to it.

Re: congratulations

evidently Lynch got your review via Ireland: Brendan Collins is @angeliclestat who sent the link to him....!/angeliclestat

Simon is kind of amazing for finding things, I don't know how he does it.

Re: congratulations

Gotta love the internet.

Re: congratulations

Although whedonesque (outside of the moderator) didn't like it. Hardly surprising. Snark is not everyone's cup of tea.

Re: congratulations

Well I wouldn't worry too much about two posters at Whedonesque, but I'm afraid it does show that not many people were reading this final series (which disappoints me, I think Brian Lynch's work deserved more attention). This is probably the reason they stopped putting up a discussion thread for the new issues.

Re: congratulations

I'm afraid it does show that not many people were reading this final series

It's the main reason I ended up picking up the issues.
Couldn't find any recaps or review.

I don't understand why. Lynch's comic unlike the other comics, was not only true to the spirit of the tv series and the characters within it, but also expanded on it - creating new and interesting characters, as well as allowing for character evolution. It's the best take I've read on the character of Spike outside of the television series. He also seems to understand the limitations of the comics medium and how to tell a good story within it. Which I can't say of the vast majority of the writers who wrote comics for the series. Comic book writing is not the same as teleplay or screenwriting.

But Lynch does have a very dry wit - which turns off a lot of people. I grew up with that sort of wit, it's second nature to me. But I'm also acutely aware of how it can put people off. (My Vamp Diary snark-a-thons, if nothing else, have made me aware of it. As did my reviews of the comics.) For me, it's hilarious.

And Lynch's dry wit carries over to his posting board interactions, he snarks a bit at himself and at people (defense mechanism) - which I can also relate to. But people get turned off. (shrugs)

Thanks for the information. I worked hard on that post, harder than usual. ;-) I even edited it. LOL!
if you go back to the Whedonesque thread now you'll find that a lot more people have read your review and posted favorable comments about it... it really was a wonderful post (so I don't think it was a complete waste of your time even w/the editing et al).

Re: people not reading Lynch... I still blame IDW for driving people away. They did one long series which purported to be about Angel, but he was only in it peripherally, they were really promoting an entirely unrelated character (Fallen Angel, an actual angel with wings... and a really lame story line). When I tried to cancel subscriptions w/IDW for these various Angel titles I found that they kept sending them to my comic book dealer (sticking him with a situation of having to go to the trouble & expense of returning unwanted/unordered comics or guilting me into paying for things I didn't want to read). I ended up really disgusted with IDW.

But having said that, I do like IDW's comics about Doctor Who #11 (LOL).

I just wish that Brian Lynch would end up writing Spike for Dark Horse, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards. :(
Ah, the infamous James storyline - that Kelly Armstrong introduced (we can blame Kelly Armstrong for that one - she writes Angel gothic paranormal urban fantasy), then was completely changed by Bill Willingham (Willingham turned James into a hell-god) until he left, leaving Mariah H. with the clean-up.

You subscribed directly to IDW??? I didn't know you could do it that way. I avoided that at least.
Didn't read most of the Angel comics. Ignored the vast majority of them. Their mistake was picking the wrong writers for the series. Willingham and Armstrong weren't fans of the series nor did they know the characters. Lynch was both.

"You subscribed directly to IDW???"
no, no, I had a pull request at my local comic book store, and they ordered them through their supplier... but when I tried to cancel those bad Angel series I found that the comic book store couldn't get them cancelled... they just kept coming even though I didn't want them. It was very frustrating for my comic book store guy and there fore to me too (because I didn't like seeing him stuck with unwanted comics, but I wasn't going to pay for what I didn't want).

"Didn't read most of the Angel comics. Ignored the vast majority of them. Their mistake was picking the wrong writers for the series. Willingham and Armstrong weren't fans of the series nor did they know the characters."
exactly, and I think that this is the reason why IDW lost the franchise... everyone was disgusted with how they were handling Angel (and Illyria). Just a world of bad.

when I tried to cancel those bad Angel series I found that the comic book store couldn't get them cancelled

Odd. Normally comic book stores order a batch. And set aside copies for subscribers. You can pull out at any time. Not order specifically for subscribers - that's risky, I'd think.

exactly, and I think that this is the reason why IDW lost the franchise... everyone was disgusted with how they were handling Angel (and Illyria). Just a world of bad.

No, they lost the franchise because when their license came up for renewal, Joss Whedon pushed for Dark Horse to win it over IDW. After playing mind games with IDW and fans for months. (At least that's what was stated in the interviews from everyone involved.)

Subsidiary right licenses come up for renewal ever 3-5 years depending on the license. Used to do this for a living, it's how I know about it. Normally the author/rights holder renews the license for either the same fee or a slightly higher one. In this case they refused and gave it back to Dark Horse. It had absolutely nothing to do with how their story played out or how it was written. Heck - Dark Horse and Whedon even stated that they'd make Willingham's story more or less canon and asked IDW if they would help connect the two universes. If they hated the story? They would not have done that.

No, if it were simply that the story sucked? We wouldn't have a S9 Buffy comic or Angel/Faith. Comics that suck beans survive, just like books that suck beans do..*cough*Twilight*cough*. ;-)
it really was a wonderful post (so I don't think it was a complete waste of your time even w/the editing et al).

Thanks. I actually didn't expect it to get pimped by anyone except maybe one person on my flist who regularly pimps these things (but for some reason didn't this round - which surprised me). Did mainly for the 6-8 people who asked for it. And since it is most likely (I say most likely because one never knows, I honestly thought I was done with the things) -the last post I'll do on Buffy, Spike, the Whedonverse or comics in general - thought I'd put a bit of effort into it.

Actually, I'm not being entirely truthful - the other reason I wrote it was the comics gave me an epithany of sorts - I actually got something from them. That surprised me.
The statement at the beginning of the post and that quotable line really hit me hard. Yes, I thought, yes - that. Exactly that. That's my current philosophy in a nutshell. That's what I learned these past several years. And it's why I loved
Lynch's Spike character and those comics. Felt the overwhelming need to write it down and share it with the world. ;-)

When art provides that magical moment of epithany or catharthis, it is well, magical.

Re: congratulations

"Wonder how simonf found it?"

I found it through Tuesday's su_herald

Re: congratulations

Enjoyable review! I think the black plague was a mistake, but Spike definitely was around for the Spanish Flu, which apparently could kick the black plague's ass up and down the European coast.
Thank you. Lots of work. So happy you liked it.
I may have to get these after all... the DH series even put me off Spike, but dodgy art aside, these sound pretty decent.
Had pretty much the same reaction - the DH series pretty much killed the Buffy series for me (and anything Whedon related), but these comics surprised me. And they actually made the
DH series a little more digestible.

They are a bit hard to find though. Apparently they didn't do many printings. I had to pay 4.50 for issue 6.
I actually had to *cough* the last four.

I complained openly and bitterly about this (TFAW, IDW etc) so I feel less guilty. As an Australian I ordered early issues online and they were shipped VIA New Zealand (a country over 2,000km further on from here) with more than a eight week delay AND costing $9.15 (Australian Dollar and US are at parity). I also tried to order via a supplier 700km away in Adelaide - he could get Angel, but...Spike, not so much. No-one in my home town even tried.

Suffice, a South American is my friend now.
I'm ashamed but well read.

Edited at 2011-05-13 12:34 pm (UTC)
I think they will come out in a trade paperback (all collected together in one volume)...
and they are even more fun when read back to back instead of waiting a month in between.
Great review. I'm a lot less keen on Mooney's art than you, but otherwise I agree with most of what you say.
Thank you. More work than I intended it to be. Oddly the only one that hasn't been pimped by petz, although it did get pimped by whedonesque (simonf liked it but one of the posters on that board was put off by my snark at S8 - sigh. No other comments. How people can like those comics or Whedon after reading them is beyond me. I just don't understand, but than I don't understand why people like Twilight either. (shrugs))

Mooney's art is uneven. It's good in some places and really bad in others. I'm tempted to scan in the pages that worked. And show the one's that didn't. It's night and day. I felt like I was looking at two different artists.

Thanks for the excellent review. I have all the Spike comics, but love it nonetheless when someone recaps or reviews because I always miss some things due to the comic book format. I have a little trouble with it. Very nice.


On IDW "losing" the license:
I REALLY don't think IDW lost the Angel-license in the way that their contract with Fox was running out. Brian Lynch had a Spike series planned to run for a very long time, see a Q&A on IDW's forum. Passing over the license was to honour the wishes of Joss, to have both series, Angel and Buffy, published with only one company. And IDW's got the rights to reprint all their Angel stuff forever (which is unheard of, when it comes to licensed property), so Fox and Dark Horse had to give something back, in order for IDW to cancel their rights for maybe a three year contract (just guessing here) to publish Angel & Spike comics.
Let's just call it a Gentleman's agreement between Joss, Fox, IDW and Dark Horse.

All I know is what I read in the interviews - and it didn't sound all that nice until long after the deal was done. Actually it was one of the nastiest exchanges I've seen in 20 years of comic book collecting.

My guess? Whedon and Dark Horse realized they had to smooth a few feathers - because they really did look like royal asswipes in the industry trades. And the comic industry is a small town. That's the inside joke of "It happened, let's agree to stop whining about it." ;-)

And IDW's got the rights to reprint all their Angel stuff forever (which is unheard of, when it comes to licensed property),

No, that's not true. I think you may be confusing the right to use characters and the universe to create your own story with syndication rights. Two different things. Yes, syndication rights have an expiration date as does the right to create new stories with someone else's characters and universe. (Basically legal fanfiction for commericial purposes). BUT - the "fanfiction" or "original fictional content" that you created during that period using those characters and universe remains your property to do with as you will. Yes, you still have to pay a "royalty" to the original rights holder - but they can't stop you from continuing to sell and reprint the issues (they'd have to be a complete idiot to want to - since, hello, ROYALTY!). You can resell and reprint old issues (although that's expensive and people usually don't)
but you can't create new ones.

Keep in mind Joss Whedon does not hold the copyright to anything. Fox holds the copyright to the characters, etc in the TV series. The Kuzies up until recently held the copyright in the Movie. But Whedon does have some sway with Fox and appears to be in a perpetual partnership with them.
Sorry I've taken so long to comment. Big week, absent spouse...blah blah.

Thanks so much for that. Impressive summation and lovely objective view of some of the more emotive issues.

Weirdly, though, this is the comment I'm going to add to my "wish I said that" repertoire:

He's the character who looks up at the writer and says, frak you, you don't control my destiny, I will do what I want, and screw up your story in the process. The existentialist post-modern hero at his best.

Damn Yeah!

(I was really chuffed to see you cited on Whedonesque and Twitter - delightful bit of positive affirmation for all :D )

No worries. Thanks for the response!
"In short, Lynch's view of the soul - is that it in of itself does not make you capable of being good or evil. What it does is provide you with the ability to feel connected to others, to the world. Not entirely a conscience, more ephemeral than that. A connection. The soul is your ghost. Your spirit. Without his soul John doesn't feel that extra kick. Without it, you are numb. Drunk. On meds."

It's pretty close to how I view the soul. For me, having a soul doesn't determine one's moral compass. But I believe it allows one to be an individual with feelings and choices. Without a soul, one is simply a zombie to me.