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Buffy The Vampire SlayerSpike Comics : Old Times - Comixfan.com Review
By Gary M. Miller
Monday 29 August 2005, by Webmaster
SPIKE: OLD TIMES REVIEW
Story Title: "Old Times"
"Bloody hell!" [Ticks off on his fingers] "Sodding, blimey, shagging, knickers, bollocks, oh God! I’m English!"
Writer: Peter David
Suggested For Mature Readers.
The above quote from Spike isn’t from this deluxe, 48-page, squarebound one-shot. Truth to tell, it’s from the sixth-season episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Tabula Rasa." The context isn’t important. However, the quote was pretty much the first thing that entered my mind after reading the dialogue to this rather delicious special. Yes, fans of Buffy and Angel, take note: the dialogue here—for Spike especially—is about as sodding spot-on as you can get.
In a story that takes place in an undetermined point in Spike’s recent history, the second vampire with a soul takes a jolly down to the local poetry bar. While there, he runs into a several-hundred-year-old Vengeance Demon named Halfrek—whom Spike knew in his previous human life as "William the Bloody" (less so for his appetite for violence then and more for his "bloody awful poetry"), as Cecily, object of his affections. Of course, irrascible Spike proceeds to have arms with Hallie, until he discovers that she’s not there for him, but rather, for someone else who deserves her wrath: a young man with vague connections to the first meeting between the vampire and Vengeance Demon, and a different sort of curse. Then, cue the sideways ode to "Final Destination" (the film), and let the mayhem begin.
If you’re a not a fan of the character and/or have never seen Joss Whedon’s shows, that shouldn’t stop you from picking this book up. The script is accessible and its intricacies, although great for longtime fans, can still be enjoyed by the new fan. That, of course, is a credit to the writer for expressing the conflicts and overall drama clearly. Spike is a character first and a vampire second, which may convert those not overly sold on vampires. Speaking of the writer...
Peter David has made no secret of his affection for the characters in Joss Whedon’s "Buffyverse," having offered weekly reviews on his weblog of the TV shows when they first aired. As such, I was quite curious to see how he would handle this, his first work actually using any of the characters. Additionally, if any writer could overcome the stigma that pervades TV shows or movies converted to the comic book format, never making them read completely like what’s on the screen, well, Peter David would be my bet. Thankfully, the script is every bit as smart and witty as Whedon’s television scripts, right down to the perfectly-captured attitudes and speech of the titular hero. The scenario is intriguing and defies expectations by bringing in a third character for Spike and Halfrek to play off/fight over. It gives the story quite a bit of forward momentum and offers a solid commentary on the lead character, and what makes him who he is. And the ending is both darkly humorous and makes complete sense.
Like the story, the art by newcomer Fernando Goni suits the character, and it suits David’s script. Although uneven at times, and at extremes, with some panels drawn directly from publicity photographs (which took me out of the story), nonetheless it feels like a Spike story. The three leads each have a unique look. Goni’s digital coloring effects are similarly strong, but again, a mixed bag, with some pixellation. That’s not to say I didn’t like it—I did. A few flaws in an otherwise perfect package.
If you liked Joss’ shows but have been disappointed with previous efforts to translate the series to the printed page, I urge you to pick up this special. I doubt you’ll be disappointed. (If nothing else, buy it to learn Spike’s real—and very familiar—full name.) Also, if you’re not a fan, but enjoy good, solid horror-oriented tales, then give this book a look. The volume may be pricey at $7.49USD, but, well, as Spike might say, "You get what you bloody well pay for."