Warning: contains spoilers for The Vampire Slayer #11!Out of the many redemption arcs to play out onscreen over the course of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Spike’s is the most compelling. Introduced in the second season as a Big Bad who was just too good to kill off, Spike evolves over the following seasons as a reluctant ally to the Scooby Gang and love interest for Buffy. Buffy and Spike’s relationship started off as a strictly physical connection, but after attacking the Slayer, Spike set out to reclaim his soul, becoming a better man thanks to their connection and Buffy’s example. Ultimately, Spike sacrificed himself to save the world, though he was later resurrected to fight evil alongside his rival Angel.
As BOOM! Studios continues to explore alternate realities of the Slayerverse, Spike’s characterization and infatuation with Buffy have typically remained the same. That is, until most recently with The Vampire Slayer, where Spike and Buffy have no connection to each other whatsoever. Instead, he has a kinship with Xander Harris. When they first meet in the third issue, it’s because Spike overhears that Xander is friends with Buffy. In hopes of learning more about the Slayer prior to killing her, Spike pretends to be a good vampire and befriends Xander, but as time has passed, Spike’s intentions have become far more genuine.
Spike’s Redemption Is Now Thanks to Xander (Not Buffy)
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Most recently, in The Vampire Slayer #11 by Sarah Gailey and Hannah Templer, a newly Big Bad Willow peers into his mind and discovers that when Spike is with Xander, he’s gotten to the point where he’s not sure if he’s lying anymore. What he does know, though, is that he can’t bring himself to kill Willow (who has stolen Buffy’s place as Slayer) because he refuses to hurt Xander.
Related: Buffy Brings Back Dark Willow With a Devastating New Power
Spike’s Redemption Is a Multiversal Constant (But Loving Buffy Isn’t)
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As with any story that focuses on alternate realities, there are many multiversal constants that tend to remain the same regardless of the universe. Until now, Spike’s romance with Buffy could be considered such a multiversal constant, with stories like Buffy ’97 and Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer being more recent examples where much of the world changes, but Buffy and Spike’s connection doesn’t. When Buffy is so crucial to Spike’s redemption arc in the main canon of the show, it would be easy to assume that there is no redemption arc without Buffy in his life. However, Xander is proving that’s not actually the case.
The world of The Vampire Slayer shows how Spike can still be capable of redemption with someone else as the catalyst. Like with Buffy, Spike’s relationship with Xander was more surface level than emotional, but those artificial feelings have quickly become real. This change is especially fascinating when there have been hints that Spike and Xander could one day pursue each other romantically. Regardless if their relationship remains platonic or not, it suggests that Buffy the Vampire Slayer isn’t as essential to Spike’s redemption as originally thought – it seems what the vampire actually needs to begin his turn to good is just a meaningful human connection.