Spike: A Dark Place (Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9) ~ Victor Gischler

  • Title: Spike: A Dark Place (Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9)
  • Author: Victor Gischler
  • Artists:  Paul Lee
  • Series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9: Spike
  • Genre: Graphic Novel, UF, Fantasy, Horror
  • Format: eBook
  • Source: NetGalley
  • Reviewed by: Valerie
  • Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Description:  Fresh from his latest attempt to get Buffy to act on her feelings for him, Spike has fled to the dark side of the moon. His trip leads him to a group of dangerous demons and a rude awakening from his reverie, which in turn leads him on an unexpected adventure to . . . Sunnydale! Collecting Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike—A Dark Place #1–#5.

Review:  I just jumped right into the on-going Spike graphic novels series with this one. Spike has always been one of my favorite characters in the Buffyverse. I have to say, jumping in mid-stream may not have worked in my favor on this one. I was kind of confused at the whole space ship and the bug-like creatures that seemed to worship Spike. I decided to just roll with it and take it for what it was.

The story arc itself was typical Buffyverse and worked well with Spike’s particular charms. All he wants is a quiet place to mourn his unrequited love of Buffy, when some big bads come along and try to force him to help them find a shard of the seed. This launches him on quite an adventure based on trying to use a shard to rekindle some lost magic. The fight scenes are excellent. The scene where he douses a cigarette on the toad-like creatures tongue and then batters him with a broken wine-bottle captures Spike’s bar room brawl fighting style.

Speaking of Spike’s charm, they did a bloody good job of capturing it. Throughout the story, he was all condescension and sarcasm, seeming to talk down to his bug-like minions. He is surly and truculent, yet, he still has that soft & vulnerable center that makes him so loveable. You can see this in the scene where he won’t allow himself to bask in the artificial sun and how he tries to let the succubus down. Sigh, I do so love me some Spike.

As with any Joss Whedon project, the snark is ripe & juicy in this one. Some of my favorite lines include:

  • I hear only the cacophonous clamor of my own failure.” ~ Sebastian
  • “So you like it rough, eh Kermit?” ~ Spike
  • “Well, if it isn’t Flowers in the Attic.” ~ Spike
  • “Have to give back the decoder ring, I s’pose.” ~ Spike

The artwork is good, if not as spectacular as the imagery of the primary Buffy series. As typically, the cover and splash pages are the most notable images. The best of these is the splash page of Spike all battered and bloody about to nurse his black eye with a bottle of whiskey. It is such a great depiction of Spike’s tough & resilient character.

Some of my favorite panels include:

  • The cold determination in Spike’s expression as he puts his cigarette out on the toad creature’s tongue
  • The panel that depicts sudden pause and Spike’s dawning realization that Sebastian may just be right about the existence of a shard of the seed remaining.
  • The panel that sees Spike go all vampy and launch himself at the succubus after learning that she does intend to open the hell mouth is a great action image
  • The visual of Spike and succubus dodging the blows of the animated Easter Island statues chasing them down with their glowy eyes is my favorite, but I really like most of the Easter Island images.

This was a jolly fun read. I now appears I have some catching up to do.

*DISCLAIMER: This book was provided to me at no cost by the publisher as an advanced review copy through Net Galley.*


Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Guarded, Season 9 #3 ~ Andrew Chambliss, Jane Espenson & Drew Z. Greenberg

  • Title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Guarded, Season 9 #3
  • Author: Andrew Chambliss, Jane Espenson, & Drew Z. Greenberg
  • Artists:  Georges Jeanty & Karl Moline
  • Series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #3
  • Genre: Graphic Novel, UF, Fantasy
  • Format: eBook
  • Source: NetGalley
  • Reviewed by: Valerie
  • Rating: 5 out of 5

Description:  In a bold move to give disenfranchised Slayers a meaningful societal role (with pay), Kennedy recruits Buffy to act as bodyguard for high-profile clientele. But unlike the other recruits, Buffy struggles to abandon her Slaying instincts and looks for demony threats where none lie (much to Kennedy’s dismay). So it’s only natural that her first job is to protect a tech mogul who just so happens to be running from demon assassins! Collects Buffy Season 9 #11–#15.

Review:  I came late to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series starting mid-series in syndication, which explains why I am all about Team Spike. I was instantly hooked. Thanks to Netflix I was finally able to watch the entire series in order on DVD, and then almost immediately after I finished they made it available via streaming. Sigh. Lesson learned? Umm, maybe not because I am following the same model to catch up on True Blood.

My point here is that it makes sense that I will jump into the graphic novels series starting with Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 Volume 3. Just as it was with the television series, consider me instantly hooked.

The artwork is simply fantastic, especially the cover images. I am so glad that that Jeanty did not try to create new interpretations of the characters. It would just be weird for the characters to look way different from the television counter-parts. Besides, this way it kind of feels like visiting with old friends.

The script also does a very good job of capturing the tone of the characters and the show in general. I could just hear Sarah Michelle Geller’s voice in my head as I was reading Buffy’s dialog. The storyline had the same great combination of action and humor that I so loved about the TV show.

I loved the plot line of using Slayers as body guards now that evil has mostly been eradicated from our realm. This setting allows for new challenges as Buffy struggles to blend in. This is a key element to Buffy’s character, she IS different. This both gives her strength and causes her to make mistakes. And, the demonic social networking? Hilarious!

My favorite lines:

  • “Who’s taking a slaycation.” ~ Buffy
  • “We’re in the same boat. The S.S. I-Could-Really-Use-Your-Help.” ~ Buffy

Favorite panels:

  • P. 18 I love how the shadows and light play upon the the close-up of Eldre Koh’s face. His eyes seems to burn with intensity.
  • P. 34 The close-up on Buffy’s eyes reveals the intensity of her expression
  • P. 45 Buffy hanging in mid air as she leaps to attack the Teuth demon brandishing a battle axe. Killer. Figuratively and literally.
  • P. 74 The simplicity of the night sky is the perfect backdrop to capture their sillouettes as they watch the building burn. Again, the lighting effects are great. I also like the evidience of their recent battle, especially the bedraggled and blood spattered Buffy.

This volume also had a nice little bonus story to introduce Billy the Vampire Slayer. I loved Billy’s story and I hope this means that we will be seeing more of him in the future. All along BtVS has been about strength and empowerment. He turns his need to defend himself from bullying into something more, becoming a Slayer.

Favorite Lines:

  • “Oh, I heard your moxie loud and clear right before you slammed the door.” ~ Devon
  • “Okay, I’m actually going to need that.” ~ Billy
  • “…you belong.” ~ Buffy

Favorite Panels:

  • P. 88 The close-up of Billy’s face captures the bemusement that we’ve all felt as a teen when a crush unexpectedly noticed us.
  • P. 89 Chaos reigns supreme in this awesome depiction of the zompire horde taking over Cubemasher video. There is just so much going on in this image. 
  • P. 124 This is just a big ole bag of awesome. This frame captures a bit of each character’s personality from facial expressions to posture. It is well-balanced and the perspective of the bright moon above the city makes a great visual impact. The very best thing about this cell is the social statement being made in Buffy’s facial expression, as well as her words, “…you belong.”

The good thing about coming late to this party, I have plenty to keep me occupied until the next edition comes out.

Pleasure Unbound ~ Larissa Ione

  • Title: Pleasure Unbound
  • Author: Larissa Ione
  • Series: Demonica #1
  • Genre: PNR, UF
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Own Copy
  • Reviewed by: Valerie
  • Rating: 3 out of 5

Description:  In a place where ecstasy can cost you your life . . .

She’s a demon-slayer who hungers for sensual pleasure-but fears it will always be denied her. Until Tayla Mancuso lands in a hospital run by demons in disguise, and the head doctor, Eidolon, makes her body burn with unslakable desire. But to prove her ultimate loyalty to her peers, she must betray the surgeon who saved her life.

Two lovers will dare to risk all.

Eidolon cannot resist this fiery, dangerous woman who fills him with both rage and passion. Not only is she his avowed enemy, but she could very well be the hunter who has been preying upon his people. Torn between his need for the truth and his quest to find his perfect mate before a horrific transformation claims him forever, Eidolon will dare the unthinkable-and let Tayla possess him, body and soul . . .

**Warning: I am giving my review an R-Rating. It is meant for adults. Considering the nature of the book, it is also clearly meant for adults.**

Review:  Take 2 scoops each of paranormal romance and erotica, a dollop of urban fantasy, a generous sprinkle of demons and a dash of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and you get Pleasure Unbound. This is what I would call a bubble bath book; sexy, light and fluffy. It was a bit silly and ridiculous, but once I accepted that, I allowed myself to turn my brain off a bit and enjoy the humor, whether it was always intended or not.

The world-building was not too deep, but it was interesting. I really liked the concept that the demon world is the flip side of humanity, that demons are mostly evil with good exceptions versus there being evil exceptions to the basic goodness among humans. Plus, there were some kick-ass fighting scenes, which always make me happy.

**Spoiler Alert – detour to avoid spoiler content**

Another aspect of the book that I really appreciated was Tayla’s difficulty in reaching the Big-O. Romance authors are so gratuitous with their orgasms that we see the achievement of multiples during virgin deflowering scenes. HUH? I think we can all agree that while we’d love to see fireworks every time, but it is not just reality for most of us. I think this made Tayla much more relatable and Eidolon more endearing for his determination to get her there. Now, as for the lame insta-psychology healing of deep mental trauma, well, not quite as well-played.

Speaking of Eidolon, for a demon he was a bit of a Marty Stu. He heals everyone who comes into the hospital, even if they are the enemy (Hello, Tayla). He takes beatings on behalf of his ego-centric brother with a tortured soul. All he really wants is to find someone to love & raise a family. Aww, do they have picket fences in the underworld?

As for Tayla, she is hot mess of a demon slayer grappling with the discovery that *gasp* she is half-demon. Didn’t see that one coming (said with the barest hint of sarcasm). I was bit disappointed in the Buffy societies gullibility and lack of knowledge. They were portrayed as this elite order with a long history of demon slaying, and yet they knew very little about demons and were very easy to infiltrate. Hmm. Maybe they needed Giles.

**Spoiler detour – you are clear of spoilers beyond this point**

I personally prefer a book with more depth and plot, but I can definitely see the appeal in this book for its intended audience.