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‘Joss Whedon – The Complete Companion’ More than Just a Companion Guide

By on May 29, 2012
Joss whedon. Image © Titan Books.

Joss whedon. Image © Titan Books.

Joss Whedon – The Complete Companion, The TV Series, The Movies, The Comic Books and More from acclaimed Pop Culture Magazine PopMatters and Titan Books is possibly the most comprehensive book on Joss Whedon ever written. With over 40 contributors, the book aims to provide a complete analysis of Whedon’s work from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the Avengers.

Written as a series of academic essays, interviews, and psychological studies (I kid you not!) the book will appeal more to those seeking a serious critique of Whedon’s vast volume of work over the past fifteen years than to casual fans looking for a companion guide or a coffee table book.

Image © Titan Books

The book presents a structured chronological look at Whedon’s work encompassing Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Serenity, comics (Fray, Astonishing X-Men, Runaways, Angel: After the Fall and more), Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, Dollhouse and films including Alien Resurrection, The Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers. It must be noted that the section on The Avengers is slim, containing only a single essay on why Whedon is the perfect director for the project. (Although anyone who buys this book is probably not going to argue that point.)

The sections on Buffy the Vampire Slayer are perhaps unsurprisingly the densest, with articles running the gamut from ‘You’re Strong. I’m Stronger: Vampires, Masculinity and Language in Buffy to ‘Women Who Hate Women: Female Competition in Buffy,’ while the touching ‘Anthropology of a Lapsed Fan‘ reminds us what it is to love and lose a show and poses the question of how any fan community can survive for so long without the original object of its devotion.

A smattering of interviews throughout the book allows insights into the world of those who worked with Whedon on particular projects. Interview subjects include Alexis Denisof (Buffy and Angel’s Wesley) producer/writer Tim Minear and IDW comic book writers Brian Lynch and Scott Tipton, among others.

Prolific TV writer Jane Espenson is also at hand to recount her own unique experience of working alongside Whedon, whom she describes as fascinating. “Watching Joss work was also fascinating, but it could be hard to learn from because his process was so internal. It’s like standing on the other side of the street watching a factory produce sports cars – they come driving out the doors at regular intervals, but that doesn’t mean that you end up knowing how to make one.”

If you’re the sort of fan who wants to debate destiny versus free will in Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, or discuss how Dollhouse was actually a metaphor for the TV Network then you’ll love this book. However, what would have personally made The Complete Companion truly complete for me would be some words from the man himself. The book is devoid of Whedon’s unique voice, making the 485 pages lighter for the loss. Even the interviews are a little Joss light, focusing instead on the process behind he various projects under discussion rather than providing insights on their creator.

The Complete Companion is a lovingly detailed, sometimes amusing and often cerebral trip through the Whedonverse but despite its meticulous detail and academic slant, it may still leave some fans wanting more.

Joss Whedon – The Complete Companion, The TV Series, The Movies, The Comic Books and More is available now from Titan Books.