Spike confronts Morgan and they shout at each other about what they're not going to let each other do until the statues, which Morgan apparently fails to control, attack them. They run, still arguing, though Morgan admits this wasn't what she intended. The bugs help out with a few well-aimed shots that break up some statues. Unfortunately, the pieces unite and make up an enormous statue. It gives the ship a smack, then turns back to Spike and Morgan, who take off running in opposite directions. The giant pursues Spike, almost stepping on him before Morgan swoops down in her demon form and snatches him away. Sebastian goes down with the ship to save the other bugs and blow up the statue.
The apparent next day, Spike and Frisky talk about Sebastian's demise, Spike attempting an awkward apology which Frisky deflects. The bugs, he says, will live on the island peacefully from now on. They say their goodbyes, and Spike goes to talk to Morgan. She's apologetic, but not all that sincere about it, and goes on to rehash her offer of a partnership. It makes him think about his own need to connect and where that got him, but he tells her to sod off, and she flies away. Spike, alone, thinks about what to do next - the world is his oyster but he isn't ready to go back to Buffy yet. Conveniently, his phone rings. It's Angel.
This issue in particular is a good example of why it doesn't always make much sense for me to keep doing my reviews. When I get it out this long after the fact, and my opinions are this close to everyone else's, I won't have much for you to see here. But let's just go over what those opinions me and everyone share are. (I know how clumsy that sentence sounded but trust me, it's grammatically correct and you don't get to call the shots on my sentences anyway, so there.)
We were promised repeatedly that this miniseries was about Spike finding his place and dealing with his personal issues, Buffy among them. We were told that he wouldn't be the same at the end of it. The first four issues saw very little progress toward that destination, leaving a lot riding on the final one. It did not deliver. Spike's psychological changes are just barely noticeable. His only outward changes are that he no longer has a vehicle and a supporting cast. Even for fans like myself who don't place him in our top five favorite characters, this is a major disappointment and leads to questions about whether we really needed to purchase these comics.
With that out of the way, I can certainly find things to appreciate about the art and writing in this installment, and the series as a whole, and I might even be up to examining Spike to figure out what exactly the writers intended to convey about his evolution. The use of Morgan as a parallel to his relationship with Buffy wasn't a bad one; I even feel like I understand him a little better. But where Spike is concerned, all of the fans' suspense rides on whether he's ever going to get over her or be with her, so when we're told there's development coming up for that subplot, we're expecting something in the way of evidence for one path or the other - hence the fandom-wide disappointment. You can read the ending as Spike finally being free of his feelings for a woman he's realized doesn't love him. You can read it as Spike being ready to accept Buffy's love in a mature, balanced relationship. You can probably get a few other readings out of it too. And that's exactly what Spike's story has always been.
Since I've seen the future and it is A&F, so I'm glad to say that the timing for the release of all the connected issues worked out really well. Kudos, Dark Horse! The most gratifying moment of "A Dark Place" was probably the last page, when we see that Spike's headed toward Angel's series (putting aside the fact that most of us knew about it already anyway). It's true that those two characters are magic together - within limits - and Spike and Faith are full of potential. Most of all, it was just a relief to know that Spike wouldn't be on his own with new characters anymore. He's as popular as he is for a reason, but he's the type that needs to be bounced off other colorful personalities, to snark at people stronger than he is and showcase his vulnerability trying to find a friend. If they had granted him just one familiar face from the shows to take on his adventure, it could have been a win.
The key to Spike's alleged change, as far as I can see, was an issue or two back when we saw that he was like Morgan, wanting to use Buffy as the center of his world and not understanding why she wouldn't take him up on it. After that, the only advancement of the theme was in his rejection of her, and implicitly his own role as lovedog. Within the pages of the last issue, though, one thing I thought was meaningful was that he won't miss wandering around in space. Looks like he's also rejecting his own aimlessness. This can only be a good thing, although I'm not sure if we'll actually see it manifest in his future.
I believe that in the first issue of this I complained about the way Spike treated his bugs, and throughout the rest of it, that might have remained on the top of my wish list for his self-improvement. I don't think anyone can deny that his apology to Frisky was an awfully weak one, but he did at least bring it up, and I also want to give him credit for some seemingly genuine grief at Sebastian's death. Maybe the real magnitude of a friend giving up his life for his sake actually penetrated Spike's brain. Maybe he was just having one of those harsh moments of sobriety that makes you see how ugly your drunken behavior was. Either way, it helps.
So that was the second half of the issue. The first half, well, there's a battle and some stuff blowing up. I'd like to see a future in which comic books don't have an action scene quota to fill, but maybe there's still a part of the readership who loves that stuff. I have to say I did appreciate the heads having bodies underground, and as monsters they were some fun - ladydorotea had some interesting observations on the idea of many forming a larger whole, but I'll leave those to her.
From what I recall, I started "A Dark Place" feeling fairly neutral about the art, but I finished up as a fan. The artist has a great grasp on Spike's face and expressions, and the poses, for all the characters, were excellent. I wasn't crazy about Morgan's boobs/outfit, but I guess it fit her background. You can see that there's enjoyment happening in the design of the ship and the bugs, and for that much, I might miss them.
And here ends my series of reviews for the Spike mini. I'm not sure what I've got coming up next, but maybe now that I don't have four series to contend with, I'll be able to catch up. It's been real, Spike. Looking forward to seeing your potential utilized in a better story.