Taking place near the beginning of the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, this is a one-off tale of what Spike was doing during his downtime after he had battled to regain a soul.
Spike finds himself alone in a small town, struggling to exist in his new state. Unable (or unwilling) to kill and steal to sustain himself, he makes do as best he can. He fights the occasional bad guy or rogue demon, trying to redeem himself, all under the specter of what he really is. Rejected at every turn, he struggles to stay on this new path he’s forging even as the memories of who he was and what he did flood back. In the end, he saves the day, but whether he will be able to save himself remains an open question.
The story is a bit quaint and some bits could have used a bit more exploration (the demon, for instance), but it builds Spike’s character well – even while simultaneously tearing him down. This is a well-done character exploration piece that manages to work a story into that introspection. Penned by James Marsters, the writing is a bit uneven at times and probably could have used a quick once-over by a more seasoned writer, by Marsters’ devotion to Spike shines through, lending the whole thing an added air of honesty. It’s clear that even all these years after he last put on the trench coat, Marsters still finds a lot of himself in the character which he helped bring to life.
My Take: The story is self-serving and a bit syrupy at times and flies in the face of the Spike that Buffy fans know and love. It even seems to be a bit of a departure from the Spike we saw in the “After the Fall” comic series (although this takes place before that). But it’s a nice self-contained piece which gives some brief bits of backstory to Spike and the sort of things he did before we met him in Sunnydale and is definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of the character – and who isn’t?