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'Buffy' actor James Marsters adapts character to original graphic novel

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Spike: Into the Light (Dark Horse Comics)

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After playing the snarky British vampire Spike on "Buffy the Vampire Slater" and "Angel", American actor James Marsters has become a staple and major attraction of comic conventions. He truly appreciates the fan adulation and their lasting support of his character. Back in 2001, Marsters co-wrote a miniseries about the exploits of a pre-"Buffy" Spike and Drusilla laying waste to foreign countries. Thirteen years later, he gives us another side to Blondie Bear.

The book takes place just prior to Season 7 of "Buffy" as Spike has just fought for his soul. The First has yet to start torturing him, so he appears to be his normal self. The only difference being the presence of a conscience. His inner monologue is ever lamenting the fact that before he got his soul back, he would take what he wanted and damn the consequences. Now that he counts the cost of human suffering and death, he finds himself going hungry. He finds a pawn shop that he once stashed a lot of money in but can't get to it without being battered by the elderly broom-wielding shopkeeper.

Funny little moments like that aren't in abundance. The majority of the story is Spike moping and even chatting up a young bird that doesn't know he's a vampire. Normal, every day Spike is not very exciting. The fight scenes between Spike and a child-stealing demon are very well done and, um, spike the entertainment up quite a bit. The character ultimately needs a foil, someone to play off of and he just doesn't have that here. He is served well by the pencils of Derlis Santacruz, who draws Spike similarly to other artists but with a bit more detail.

The narrative of "Spike: Into the Light" is a bit flat without a sidekick and greater purpose. The reader has no idea why Spike is where he is and why he's taking this sabbatical before returning to Sunnydale. At the very least, this is mostly the Spike fans remember, not the bug commander of Season 8 and 9. This book is a decided improvement over the "A Dark Place" miniseries and one that Whedonites will surely gobble up.

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