Tag Archives: Jeff Matsuda

Mini-Review: “Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Angels We Have Seen On High” by Fabian Nicieza, Scott Lobdell, & Jeff Matsuda

Angels We Have Seen On HighTitle: Angels We Have Seen On High
Writers: Fabian Nicieza & Scott Lobdell
Artists: Jeff Matsuda (Characters), Hakjoon Kang & Nolan Obena (Backgrounds)
Series: Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Rating: ****
Publisher/Copyright: Dark Horse, 2002

So, once more I’m faced with a short Buffy comic that really doesn’t fit well into any other review. Angels We Have Seen On High is a short story published in the 2002 Dark Horse anthology one-shot Reveal. So far as I can find, it was only ever collected as part of Buffy Omnibus Volume II, which is a shame because it’s a fun little interlude.

This is set before season one of Buffy, so far as I can tell falling between Slayer, Interrupted and A Stake To The Heart. It’s Friday night and Buffy’s been tasked with keeping an eye on Dawn as they hang out on the Santa Monica Pier. Of course, her Slayer duties get in the way, placing Dawn in danger and requiring a save from the unseen Angel.

The writing for this was spot-on, down to the humor and character voices, and the art was interesting. As you can see from the cover, it was done in a very stylized…style…that usually isn’t my cup of tea, but I really enjoyed it here. It worked really well, and everyone was still recognizable as themselves despite the stylization–not something to be taken for granted, I can assure you! Even some of the early Buffy comics that aren’t shooting for an odd style don’t manage this level of character-recognition, though admittedly this one has it easy due to its small cast of characters. If you can find a way to get your hands on this story, I would highly recommend it….

CONTENT: Vampire violence, though significantly milder in this tale than in most episodes of the series. Mild language. Mild innuendo, but no real sexual content. Buffyverse vampires.

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Mini-Review: “Tales Of The Slayers: Broken Bottle Of Djinn” by Jane Espenson, Douglas Petrie, Jeff Matsuda & Gene Colan

Title: Broken Bottle Of Djinn
Writers: Jane Espenson & Douglas Petrie
Artists: Jeff Matsuda & Gene Colan
Series: Buffy The Vampire Slayer(Tales Of The Slayers one-shot)
Rating: *****
Publisher/Copyright: Dark Horse, 2002

This is a one-shot comic in the style of Dark Horse’s earlier graphic novel anthology Tales Of The Slayers and released under the same title. That earlier anthology is generally regarded as official canon due to the direct involvement of Joss Whedon, and while Whedon’s name isn’t on this book I extend it the same courtesy based on the fact that it’s obviously related, plus the fact that Espenson and Petrie were both writers for the show. Where it falls timeline-wise, however, is a slightly more awkward question due to a bit of sloppy work by the editor at Dark Horse, Mr. Scott Allie. The inside cover sets the Sunnydale portion as during Buffy’s second season, which fits with the dates given, but Willow’s witchcraft skills as displayed in the book place this into season three. An astute reader pointed this out to Allie in the letter column of the ongoing series (I think it was during the Slayer, Interrupted arc) and he acknowledged the mistake, unofficially revising the setting to season three. I doubt they’ll care enough to change the attribution in future printings, so I’m just making a note of it here and moving on.

The Buffy segment here really just serves to introduce the main story, set in 1937 New York, so I won’t worry about spoilers for that too much. Principal Snyder, in his ever-present battle to shrink the budget, has acquired a bunch of salvaged lockers from New York’s Penn Station.* One of the movers drops his locker, smashing a bottle inside and freeing an angry Djinn. Buffy and Willow take it on and manage to send it through a temporal portal to some other time, some other place…. In 1937 New York, impoverished slayer Rachel O’Connor is recruited by the OSS to intercept a Nazi agent carrying a powerful weapon. I’ll give you three guesses what it is, and the first two don’t count….

On the whole, I liked this little adventure. It was small, a short read, but definitely had the same flavor as the previous stuff in Tales Of The Slayers (which you’ll recall I greatly enjoyed.) Artistically, again, Gene Colan isn’t really my cup of tea, but his artwork complemented the setting very well. Jeff Matsuda I’m less familiar with, and I’m not always taken with the style he demonstrated here, but it worked and I enjoyed it. Jane Espenson didn’t really get much time to work here, but I enjoyed what there was. Doug (sorry, apparently he’s going by Douglas now…) Petrie’s work took up the majority of the book, and it was good, though I thought it wrapped up a bit abruptly. The whole thing forms a paradox, but I feel like that’s not actually looked down upon anymore. Certainly not by the kind of fans that Whedon has, who I feel also have a tendency to be Whovians as well.** And who enjoys a good paradox more than everyone’s favorite Doctor?

Like the one-shot I reviewed yesterday (Jonathan), Broken Bottle Of Djinn is a rare comic. The only place I know of that it’s reprinted is the new(ish) Dark Horse collection Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Tales. I think the purpose was to tap into the popularity of Whedon’s Buffy Season Eight comics and, depending on your level of cynicism, either harness that to sell more copies of the older anthologies Tales Of The Slayers and Tales Of The Vampires, or to give fans the chance to own those aforementioned books, plus the one-shots being collected for the first time, in one nice pretty volume.

CONTENT: No profanity. No explicit sexual content, but a man tells a girl she can make more money by following him into an alley than she will selling pencils all day. Vampire violence, consistent with Buffy materials, plus some other violence of about the same level. Occult-wise, we have Buffyverse vampires, plus some witchcraft.

*I can’t imagine the bargain he got offset the cost of transporting them across the country, but whatever.
**Perhaps that’s just me projecting my own fandoms onto other Whedonites. I don’t know, I could be wrong.

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