Josh Wilding Reviews: JOSS WHEDON: THE COMPLETE COMPANION
Titan Books were kind enough to send us a copy of what Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion (The TV Series, The Movies, The Comics Books And More), so hit the jump to find out whether or not you should pick up a copy of this in-depth guide to the Whedonverse.
Joss Whedon’s importance in contemporary pop culture can hardly be overstated, but there has never been a book providing a comprehensive survey of his career as a whole – until now. The Complete Companion covers every aspect of the Whedonverse through insightful essays and interviews, including fascinating conversations with key collaborators Jane Espenson and Tim Minear. Over 40 contributors have been brought together by PopMatters, the acclaimed international magazine of cultural criticism, to provide an irresistible mix of analysis, interpretation and sheer celebration. Whether you’re a student looking for critical approaches to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or a Browncoat who follows Nathan Fillion on Twitter (or, let’s face it, both) there is plenty here to enjoy.
This isn’t a Joss Whedon biography. Neither does it take us behind the scenes of the many, many projects he has tackled over the year. In fact, it could even be argued that it doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know. Then again, that’s not what Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion (The TV Series, The Movies, The Comics Books And More) sets out to achieve. It instead features a collection of essays written by fans, students, academics, journalists and more; all of which offer up a variety of interesting and unique opinions on the huge body of work that the writer and director has tackled over the years. The topics covered in the book include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Serenity, Dr Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog, Dollhouse, Alien Ressurection, his comic book work, and of course, Marvel’s The Avengers.
The book is split into seven chapters and each of these includes one (or several) of the topics listed above. They all start off with a “101” explaining the basic premise of the TV show, film or comic book that they’re talking about, and if you’ve never explored a particular area of Whedon’s work, you may find yourselves wanting to immediately after reading these. What follows are essays analysing and exploring these projects, including a handful of interviews with some of those who have worked with him over the years (Jane Espenson and Alexis Denisof for example) and it is these which provide the most revealing insights into Whedon. Some read better than others but you’re bound to find something of interest regardless of which area of Whedon’s work you’re a fan of. Some aren’t covered in as much depth as you might hope, while it could be argued that there is a little too much coverage of others.
Regardless, there’s no denying that the varying opinions of these writers results in some fascinating arguments and discussions. There is an examination of why Whedon always seems to kill off the characters we most care about. Many others look at the strong female characters he has created over the years, while some of the most interesting analyse the effect his work has had, such as the effect Astonishing X-Men had on the current status quo of the X-Men line of comic books or the “Can’t Stop The Serenity” events which raise money for worthy causes that Whedon supports such as Equality Now. The topics covered in the book are far too numerous to mention, although you can just about guarantee that every facet of his work is explored and discussed here.
Some of these make for a fascinating read, others not so much. However, even if you end up reading only half of the 485 page book, it’s still fantastic value for money. The best part is that as in-depth as the contents of Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion are, there’s still room for so much more. One can only hope that a second volume will be released in future once some time has passed following the release of arguably Whedon’s greatest work yet with Marvel’s The Avengers. If you’re a fan of Joss Whedon, there’s simply no doubting the fact that this is a must-read. His extremely devoted fan base will love the book from start to finish and for anyone introduced to his work thanks to the Marvel Studios movie, it’s just as easy to recommend (although you may find yourself skipping a lot of essays if you’re not a “hardcore” fan).
There’s a lot to love in Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion, although perhaps only for the most devoted fan of Whedon’s work. However, it’s a great read regardless and well worth checking out.
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