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Review: ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike—Into The Light’ HC

James Marsters has forged an impressively diverse career, ambitiously roving between stage, television, film, and music, and now he returns to Dark Horse Comics with another fantastic piece of fiction to add to the Buffyverse. Pick up “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike—Into The Light” today at your local comic book shop, and hit the jump to read our review.



WRITTEN BY: James Marsters
ART BY: Derlis Santacruz
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
PRICE: $14.99
RELEASE: July 16, 2014

Reviewed By: ShadowJayd

James Marsters’ “Spike—Into The Light” is set in Greenville, California, near the beginning of season 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It’s structured as an intimate exploration of Spike’s journey as a newly-souled vampire, learning to survive in a world where his inclination to sin has all but been overthrown by his arduous–though firm—effort to be good. Marsters takes the narrative in a direction that feels more personal and familiar, as he easily slips back into the iconic role he helped to define, and the results are admirable. His tangibly strong connection to the character allows him to provide deeper characterization and a distinctive level of poignancy and dark humour that significantly adds to the effectiveness of Spike’s tale of redemption and strife; ultimately leading the character out of the darkness and into the light.

The typical formula for a Buffyverse arc commonly consists of a prominently featured “Monster of the Week Moment” subplot. And while there is the expected demonic obstacle in Spike’s way, including many action-packed panels of engaging violence, Marsters creatively opts for the Big Bad storyline to take a backseat to souled-Spike’s narrative of self-discovery and post-acquired soul survival. Along for the ride is romantic love interest, Dylan, whom Marsters has said is modeled after his gorgeous wife, actress/singer-songwriter, Jasmine Marsters.

The artistic team behind this issue work in beautiful tandem to successfully convey Marsters’ story and vision, with an impressive grasp of tone, form, and technique. With tons of great detail, Derlis Santacruz allows the scope of the writer’s narrative to be told with his pencils, and demonstrates his ability to effectively illustrate character likeness to a degree on par with Whedonverse comics gem, Rebekah Isaacs. His artwork is lifted to extraordinary levels by colorist Dan Jackson’s large palette of gritty dark hues, which emphasizes the chaotic and somber-mood of Marsters’ one-shot perfectly. Jackson’s solid rendering work is terrifically complimented by Andy Owens’ bold inks.

Goodies: Following the end of Marsters’ “Spike—Into The Light” is a four-page art spread—presented by Dark Horse Comics editor-in-chief, Scott Allie—which features an exclusive look at cover artist, Steve Morris, and penciller Dan Jackson’s rough sketches and tryout pages for the Whedonverse.

James Marsters’ “Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Spike—Into The Light” is a fan-must-have for your Buffy comics collection.



ShadowJayd, known everywhere else as Farah Jayden Hakkak, has been a staff writer for Bloody-Disgusting since July 2012. You can find her on Twitter, or passed out by the dirt road behind Wendy’s.




  • Guest

    It isn’t early S7, it is supposed to be after he got it together later on according to Scott Allie and as he is wearing his coat in the preview (which he doesn’t retrieve until Get It Done) it has to feature much later. If it spans much over the 24hrs SA said it doesn’t really work well anywhere but could go after LMPTM if it is a short getaway (although in the previews he referred to going there for a ‘fresh start’ so it doesn’t seem to place well anywhere during S7 tbh).

    • Hello, Guest! According to the book itself, “This story takes place near the beginning of Season 7 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (the very words scripted within the HC). But of course, after all the mental madness that came with winning back his soul. So not early Season 7, but close enough I suppose. Maybe we’re just expected to believe he took some time away off-air within the canon universe…

      • Guest

        Hiya, thanks for your reply. 🙂

        So the coat is just a blip? He doesn’t have that until ep15. Even ignoring that, I can’t see how it works anyway he was mad in the basement until he went to go live with Xander in ep6 and then the trigger is a plot point in only the next episode. Everything runs fairly tightly after that and even involves him talking about going and Buffy asking him not to in First Date I think. It seems they just wanted to place it within canon and didn’t properly consider where it would actually work, particularly if Spike is talking in the story as if he has gone off for a ‘fresh start’. It obviously doesn’t matter to the canon story and is a stand alone and they haven’t really worked out how it fits in or there wouldn’t be so many inconsistencies.

        • Nicolas Caiveau

          This doesn’t have to work perfectly, this isn’t a canon story like seasons 8, 9 and 10 or Angel After the Fall and Angel & Faith. It’s just a cool story with Spike as the anti hero set “approximately” during season 7.

          • agree with you – this was always intended by James Marsters to be a Spike story not one that had to be forced into a canon timeline of BS7. This idea of Spike making his way back to Sunnydale works for me – in fact, I don’t see where it would fit other than this on the way to Sunnydale.

            Unfortunately the earlier comments regarding the timeline of this being within the BS7 timeline gave the wrong impression of the story being forced into BS7 events.

          • Guest

            I wish they had just said it wasn’t canon and hadn’t tried to force it in and state it is S7 because that is what they have done. Personally I think it undermines early S7 if this was what Spike had done and makes his craaazy look disingenuous so I am far far happier to see it as AU. Why couldn’t they just have said it as such.

          • Nicolas Caiveau

            I actually see it like the Dragon Ball Z OAV’s. They use the characters with the look they had at a certain period in the series, but they don’t fit anywhere in the chronology.

          • Guest

            It is a really wasted opportunity though. They could have made it link through to the start of S7 and covered JM’s story idea within that still if they’d worked together. It would have just had to have included a darker tone and probably him considering whether he should go back, his fears and shame over what happened. The desire to reinvent himself could still have worked against the light romantic interest/rejection but then the pull to settle things and face them winning in the end. Him getting by souled/striving to do good would still have been examined but the nightmares could have built against his jumbled feelings to result in him wanting to return but declining into the basement state he was in at the start of S7. As it is it is only an alternate that doesn’t fit. One reader even said it states he has been there for weeks so it in no way fits what SA promoted it as for a 24hr period during S7. It could have worked with canon, but it doesn’t and that does feel a bit disappointing.

          • Nicolas Caiveau

            It feels disappointing only if you were expecting a canon story. I wasn’t. Joss Whedon has made clear that there are two sorts of Buffy comics : The “Joss Whedon approved ones” (Buffy seasons 8, 9 and 10, Spike the series, Angel After the fall, Angel & Faith 1 & 2, Fray Future Slayer, Tales from the vampires and Tales from the Slayer) and the “officially licenced comic books” : Buffy Classics, Angel Classics and all the other one shots about Willow, Oz, Giles etc… And the Spike comics which are not included in After the Fall or seasons 8 and beyond. This new comic was always intented to belong to the second category, it’s just an “official fanfic” according to Joss. Which doesn’t mean it’s not good. Some non canon Buffy./Angel comics were better than some canon storylines…

          • Guest

            Actually I didn’t expect it to be a canon story because Joss’ name isn’t on the cover and I think describing it as official fanfic is fair. I had expected it to be a nondescript setting though (as SA described it), one which didn’t really touch the canon story as such and from what people say this just isn’t that vague. I mean this in the sense that if you chose to take it as your personal canon it makes Spike’s early S7 behaviour less coherent and not to the character or story’s benefit. So I suppose I expect even a non canon story to tie in better if it chooses to take a stand on its placing. Particularly where it is a slot in rather than an off canon tangent. So, yeah, the disappointment aspect here then comes from seeing that it could clearly have been written better to tie in if canon had been considered and they just didn’t bother. So no, I won’t take it as canon, it doesn’t work to use it as canon without negatively affecting the show which quite clearly gets priority and overwrites this fic. But it *could* have worked.

        • The duster might have just been an oversight. But while the story is definitely inspired by canonverse, it’s not meant to actually fall anywhere specific in the Season 7 timeline. I imagine that’s way the language surrounding the time/setting is a bit vague. Because like @nicolascaiveau:disqus said, it’s not a canon tale. Just a story Marsters felt compelled to write. :]

          • Guest

            Scott Allie very specifically said in an interview it was *during* S7. But that clearly doesn’t work so AU.

          • Definitely just liberal canon-divergence.

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  • Great review – I enjoyed the issue very much and I’m glad that I purchased it – hope that other Spike fans will take a chance on it. I think it fit the parameters well as described by James Marsters. I very much liked the “small thing but important event” that was intended with this story.

    Personally, I don’t see the female character much of a “romantic element” – but I do think that the symbolism of the need to connect with another person is what Spike needed emotionally and does fit the story.

    One HUGE continuity error if of course that Spike did not have his duster at this time, but as his coat is such an iconic piece of Spike Wear – I just chose to overlook this error.

    Anyway, again thanks for the review and as a Great Big Spike fan, I hope that other fans will give this one a chance.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the review, and even more so that you’ve taken so well to the issue. There’s been some grumblings from the fandom about the “romantic element” (specifically the fact that she was created with his wife in mind), and how the story should have been a short one-shot instead of a longer HC. But overall, it seems “Spike–Into the Light” is being received pretty well. :]

  • BuffyAnne Summers

    Im a big Buffy fan and Ill not support or read this. I think Marsters did a lot msitakes in it, for it fans dont want to read.First the timeline..its all wrong if it was after Spike took his soul he was crazy. Spike just get better in middle season 7 when Buffy help,and after he moved on with Xander. Second the love interest: WRONG, this is wrong in all levels. Spike took his soul back for Buffy for what happened in the bathroom, so the line “she was a good girl,I was wrong..” that was like that is the past just move on.Spike is not like that and this is seriusly disturbing. James wrote this like Spike didnt care about what happened with Buffy in sunnydale, and SPIKe was very truly in love with Buffy at that time. So this Dylan character for me hasnt sense and made me (and the most of fans mad) Personally I believe this comics is just to promotion for his wife (he used Spike character to promotion his wife,thats a shame and very unprofesional) James had a lot to explore about the character and he decided ignore the best part of season 6 and 7. Spike felt guilty for the bathroom incident? he wanted see buffy again? how he came back to sunnydale again? he didnt reply anything and add more the jacket (Buffy has it). He spend fantastic art in a silly story. The lines are pathetic, we have to be honest here “my soul suck” really??? is that what he has to say? I think they could do something amazing and they just didnt, this dont fit with season 7 ,this dont fit with Spike character at all, and this just dont fit with BTVS

  • SuzieTampa

    I liked it but with two exceptions: 1) I found it hard to believe that a woman who had narrowly escaped being raped by two guys in an alley would shake off that trauma and start pursuing the mysterious guy who saved her. She doesn’t know his last name. He’s dressed like a 70s punk. But, hey, come right in to my house! 2) In the Buffyverse, it irritates me that rapists are generally told to run along. Apparently, it doesn’t occur to either Spike or the woman that maybe she should go to the police and report these guys and give them a description. I kept expecting some sort of twist, such as her turning out to be a demon of some sort.

    • I couldn’t delve into that conversation in the review because it would have broken Dark Horse’s “No spoilers” rule, but I actually agree on both accounts. I distinctly remember having those same thoughts while reading their interactions on paper. It’s definitely problematic.

  • Spuffy Latino

    I read “Spike into the light”..again…I want to say I’m dissapointed for this, because I was very excited about James Marsters getting back into Buffyverse. About the book,the art is great (is the possitive thing about the comics) because the story go exactly against the entire season 7, in every sense.The timeline was choosen very wrong (Scott Allie said it was at start of season 7) The characterisation was bobbing around a bit but mostly the problem was that the writing was pretty terrible and of course,off the character all time,this is nothing like Canonical Spike in the series. He beats up two humans at the beginning so he has no chip (no chip before season 7??) and as the previews showed, he has his coat which he doesn’t get back until ep15 of Season7 in the series. It wouldn’t work during the season either, especially later on, because he says he has gone there for a ‘fresh start’ and when he gets badly injured it states in the text it takes weeks to get better. Spike once dechipped/untriggered wouldn’t have left like that, it would totally break a season arc of him Buffy relying on each other emphasised by her having asked him to stay (and doesn’t match at all with Scott Allie saying it was a little over 24hrs). It just simply doesn’t fit either pre or during S7 because Spike was crazy at that time. It seems they just wanted to place it within canon and didn’t properly consider where it would actually work, particularly if Spike is talking in the story as if he has gone off for a ‘fresh start’. It obviously doesn’t matter to the canon story and is a stand alone and they haven’t really worked out how it fits in or there wouldn’t be so many inconsistencies. Any love interest in the timeline they picked its HORRIBLE to see for any BTVS fan…In that time Spike was fully in love with Buffy and dealing with the scene of “Seeing Red”, so of course no one wants to see Spike getting puppy eyes from some random girl (James Marsters said Spike fall for this girl…that’s absolutely ridiculous). After he come back from Africa, he is broken and trying to return to Buffy. Marsters ignore all Spike’s guilt for what he did to Buffy in this timeline,that’s a big problem with this comics. Spike got his soul for the slayer. I understand a comics between season 7 and 6 should be very emotional and Spuffy. It is a really wasted opportunity though,they could explore an interesing time in Spike’s life. Also I believe Spike with a new love interest is not possible because Spike left this very clear for Buffy :”Yeah, I talk to people. Women. Talk to them ’cause I can’t talk to you.So, yeah. I go and pass the time… with someone. But that’s all it is is time, ’cause, God help me Buffy, it’s still all about you.” Spike and this chit called Dylan, kiss in Marsters comics. Marsters Not fit to canon because Spike didn’t start speaking to women after he’s out of the basement, not so crazy, and living with Xander. This comic IS NOT CANON,and NOT OFFICIAL,is just a fanfiction wrote by an actor.I think when you write a comics (and if you actually played the character) you have to do it to people enjoy it, I mean these HUGE mistakes cant happen…..this is like a fanfiction of Spike in AU .Effectively it is fanfic with an alternative shipping preference thrown in (a shipper not canonical with some random girl..and yes putting personal life into Spike’s life is not professional ,fans are not happy for this. The most found it disrespecteful.) I’m surprised they even considered it because this story does not fit in anywhere. Is a shame the way this story was taken because everyone was very excited and happy for James Marsters getting into the BTVS, and they had all the tools to make a great product …..Everybody can write fanfictions going out from characters ,I personally don’t like reading them if they are like that.I prefer fictions where Buffy and Spike personalities are respected but, it’s true everyone can write what they want and make experiments,but these fan fics don’t come from some trustworthy and authority source as James M is. James writing a fan fiction like this (with all these mistakes) is really wrong and most of the fans won’t accept it. In my opinion, they can’t expect to have a lot of success if they dont respect the things that define to the series and the characters. As Spuffy shipper (as the most of fandom is) You will get mad because James ignore all Spike/Buffy love conflict. Spike saying “I came here for a fresh start” in the start of season 7 left the message: “He did something very wrong but he just ignores it,and try to move on,so he get a soul to start a new life but he couldnt and thats why he returns to Buffy again,because his new life failed. Is not about his love for Buffy,no about redemption, no about being a better man and being forgiven. He backs to Sunnydale because the rest didnt work right.” That’s not the Spike we saw and love in the series,the Spike who fight at Buffy’s side. If James intention was to give Spike a story what shows the character wanting to be good for himself and not kill off anyone to get what he wants, he failed horribly.That intention is not showed in this comics.If you are a huge Spike lover,considering the reason why Spike fought for his soul, what triggered it, which he is still reeling from at the beginning of S7, it is nonsense and perhaps somewhat crass to say he would act like he did in this comics ,if you are a big BTVS fan and you dont care to ship any couple, probably you gonna get frustrated anyway.. because this story Completely doesn’t work .. (You only need to watch the first two episodes of S7 to see that this is not possible.) So..I think people who could apreaciatte this comics are: fans that can ignore the series and read this like AU (alternate universe, forget all you know about Spike, and about Spike love for Buffy,and forget the timeline and what happen in season 7..and read this like..just a story, the story of a vampire dealing with a soul that has nothing to do with BTVS or with Spike as well) because in other way (into the series) this story is pointless. The chip mistake,the love interest mistake, the coat mistake..even an error was the inclusion of a t-shirt that says “Little Miss Sunshine.” The movie came out in 2006, but the in between time far Season 6 and 7 of Buffy was in 2002…
    If it was in a different time set like after Angel series, probably could do this a little more acceptable to read,just a little..The sunlight issue was just one of many writing weaknesses in the story but definitely one of the worst. It wasn’t even that he just smoked a bit he was on fire but didn’t dust despite being burnt raw all over that took weeks to recover from. The execution and detailing in this story is pretty bad. The humour was also pretty ropey. I liked the bit with the mirror in her flat but the whole “I need a witch/nerd/librarian” (or some such) was just awkward scripting and that kind of thing was dotted throughout. I believe in this case Joss Whedon’s product and his story weren’t respected, they are using it to personal promotion. And honestly is not right. It is not a comic I would recommend sadly.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment. I think everyone can agree that the story doesn’t fall in the canon universe (even though it claims to inside the comic itself). The fact that it wasn’t executive produced by Whedon says it all. He approved the publication but didn’t have any say in the script (I’m pretty sure). I would say it’s canon divergence, which is just a polite way of calling it au fanfiction, really. A lot of liberties were definitely taken, but I enjoyed it a lot more after disregarding the inaccurate timeline. I would have also touched upon the sunlight/chip issues if it didn’t fall under the Dark Horse’s ‘No Spoilers in the Buffyverse’ rule.

      I think everyone would also agree that sneaky marketing was involved in the promotion process in order to garner publicity and sales. But I don’t think it was needed considering they already had a famous Buffy alum writing the script. I imagine it would have gotten the attention that it was expected to get anyway. I think if Marsters was allowed to write the original script that he wanted to write for this story (which was apparently a hell of a lot darker and edgier in comparison), it could have potentially worked better. But that’s just speculation.

      Do you frequent the SlayAlive forum by any chance? I noticed that a few of your opinions were pulled from the “Spike: Into the Light” discussion thread. Specifically from one particular member. If you’re one in the same, it’s nice seeing you over here as well. :]

      • Stoney

        I think you may mean myself on SlayAlive, but I’m not Spuffy Latino. 🙂

        I find it very cynical in the marketing. It was just unnecessary because if they had said an undetermined time post tv shows and had JM as the author I don’t think it would have made a jot of difference to their sales, but it wouldn’t have been falsely representing the book like it has been. So because of this it takes a non-canon story and makes it ‘less’ by mismatching the placing. All the reasons it doesn’t work (on top of the not stellar writing quality) just make it poor overall and DH’s attitude to get the sales, as it appears to me, is just not great.

        • Stoney

          I didn’t mean to just rate my own comment. Classic goof, ha!

          • Elpiniki Kappa

            I just *had* to post even after 7 months to tell you how much I agree with you! Marsters comic is terrible, couldn’t even finish it! Makes me uncomfortable and queezy. This is not cannon it is fan-fiction and not the best around…sadly. Portrayal of his wife is ludicrous and dubious. I have come to the understanding that James Marsters never got the character he so brilliantly played…On top of that Dylan makes an entrance in season 10???? I was almost vomiting from the disappointment and hurt I felt. They just did that to promote the comic ….Not good move. I hope they don’t follow that up or she gets killed. I am sending a letter to the editor actually, seriously. Season 10 has been so good so far it would be such a shame to ruin it now.

            ps. Apart from the writers you mention that got Spike Spuffy Latino, I also think Brian Lynch got him very well too. But it’s no wonder he was handpicked by Joss and they co-plotted a lot of comics together.

        • Spuffy Latino

          I think this a lost opotunity, they had all the elements to do a great work (the ark is very good), but they didnt want to..If James takes time to rewatch the series and write something logical for that time could be awesome.. but he didnt. Scott Allie let him to do this..more shocking, he let it with all the mistakes on it. James M was very mulish with this anyway, the most of fans told him that the love interest was wrong, that he shouldnt do it, and he did anyway..I think one of the reasons for what D H let him do whatever he wanted is because they had problems in the past with “Spike and Dru” comics.. in my experience both comics (this new and the old) written by James M were horrible (Im honest here,thats the word, both are horrible) So James blamed to DH for his first comics fail, but it wasnt DH fault, he keep writting Spike WRONG or at least not as Spike is on the series. Is like James wants Spike to be a serial killer without heart or a champion womanizer, who is not in love with Buffy…and I believe all fans love Spike for the opposite reasons, because he loves Buffy very very much (taking her soul for her) and because he showed feelings even without a soul.

          • Stoney

            I agree that the mistakes are too big and frustrating because the placing isn’t necessary to the story and it would definitely work better elsewhere because of the romance and big continuity problems. I don’t think JM has a very good handle on the character personally and some of the scripting is pretty dire. But as someone pointed out on SlayAlive, the writers know the characters the best. The actors can do a brilliant job and not ‘get’ the character or understand the developments and from everything I’ve ever seen/heard James has a bit of a gap on understanding Spike’s arc from Seeing Red, especially the Buffy of it all. I guess a lot of that could be because he, as an actor, struggled with that episode so much. But the responsibility for the placing stops with DH. Even *if* James was pressing for it, they didn’t have to do it. The story wouldn’t have suddenly been better elsewhere (good point about the lack of resolution about the monster btw), the characterisation wouldn’t have suddenly had greater breadth, but it *would* have avoided all the distracting canon clashes and the bad characterisation points over the romance. It served no purpose to place it where they did and has just distracted, as well as seeming just disingenuous in DH’s promotions.

          • Spuffy Latino

            You are right, every time you ask him for Spike he replied wrong and twisted interpretations about him..he didnt get Spike. Its..seriusly frustrating, the guy who played it dont get it. But Joss and Jane got him absolutely

      • Spuffy Latino

        Im not on SlayAlive, but I read all the comments and take some ideas of it to express myself better,( because Stoney write very well!) and I was thinking exactly the same about the entire book..for me this has to much mistakes, made me impossible to enjoy the book. I read 5 times or more by now..and still find it very dissapointing and silly. If you get attention you never know what happened with the monster at the end. Or why he needed the kids..this character Dylan has more lines than Spike..he speak very few and when he does he has lines like “my soul sucks”…shocking, doesnt sounds like Spike. Plus in this timeline he didnt talk about Buffy he just said “she was good I screwed up”, thats all? or feels any guilt for seeing red scene. Very wrong. In that time line as I said Spike just took his soul for her, and he is not even speaking about? More disturbing the fact that James M Dont remember the series (the chip mistake is huge) Thanks God (thanks Whedon LOL) This is NOT canon, the right Marsters words were: “Joss dont reply me”, I believe he wasnt entire agree with it…Im a big Spike fan, but this…this just dissapointed me. More coming from J M, he played the character for years. And I found more and more unpleasent that we cant see all the love that Spike has for Buffy in that timeline (come on the guy took his soul for her) The fact that Marsters wrote it for his wife mixing Buffyverse and real life, to me is disrespectful. I have to say Im not surprised for the poor writting and mistakes, Dark horse didnt show knowledge about the series or characters in the rest of comics neither..But hurt more coming from James M. In my personal experience few people can write Spike in the way he is, these people are: Joss W, David Fury, Jane E, Victor (of Dark Horse) and Scott Tiptton (of IDW) the rest failed horrible. I understand than DH dont wanted Spolier, but this is not spoiler I mean we are talking about MISTAKES, real mistakes on the book. They dont want to listen..Scott Allie and I (maybe you know already) have a hate relationship (LOL) but just because Im not being silent about what I find wrong. Im a honest one, Im not pleasent with them when they do things wrong, and he dislike me for it. And Im not being “sweet” on James neither, a lot fans are pleasent with him, when he makes a mistake Im saying this,I dont care if he is famous or not. In this comics he screw up..And a lot fans think the same, but the dont say it. All this comics is about promotion for his wife…really hurt the BTVS fans. And yes all the marketing was cynical and unnecesarry. I have my own fan page about Buffy and Spike is spuffy latino we are on twitter and facebook, you are welcome to visit. 🙂

        • Yeah, there were a LOT of people who were unhappy about the inclusion of Marsters’ wife in the comic. They felt that he was using this opportunity to promote/ put focus on her instead of taking the BtVS script seriously, which is understandable. And no, I had no idea about your contentious relationship with Scott Allie! That’s pretty crazy haha. Checked out your Facebook page. Soon you’ll have 10,000 likes. Congrats. :]

  • Stephanie Brisson

    I haven’t read it but it has mixte reviews. His most loyal fans seem to love it but that’s not saying much. In their eyes, the man can do no wrong. I heard the story timeline doesn’t even fit with Buffy’s season 7. Also, several fans, including myself, don’t like the fact that he introduced a character who’s based on his wife. Nothing against her but it sort of sounds like he was trying to promote her career. But the truth is that besides James Marsters, nobody really cares about her. I think people are mostly following her because of her husband anyway. I probably won’t read it.

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