BOOK REVIEW: Joss Whedon – The Complete Companion

josswhedonbookBack in March, I wrote a short post about this book and said that I would hopefully be reviewing it.  Well the time has come! Joss Whedon – The Complete Companion is a series of essays and interviews that gives an extensive overview of Joss Whedon’s work up to Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers films.

The essays range from Whedon’s TV work right down to his comics and the topics covered are almost endless.  There are 101’s covering each work and then in depth studies looking at identity, religion and how Whedon has influenced pop culture today.

The majority of essays are written by different authors so as you would expect the writing style varies.  This book is hefty containing over 50 essays and so is a bit of a long book.  However with it being in the form of essays it is easy to pick up and put down.  (Part of the reason it took me so long to read). I could discuss every essay, however then we would all be here all night. With that, I’ve decided to pick out a few that I particularly like:

  • Failure of the Everyman:The Lost Character That Was Xander Harris
    This is a short essay by Kyle Garret about how Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is persistently portrayed as the Everyman only to have the key aspect of his character degraded.  This essay gives a good perspective on how this has happened however I would like to meet the author and argue a few points.  For example the fact that Xander isn’t able to keep his Everyman persona in my opinion shows how far the magic/demon side of the universe stretches, the fact that in the end no one in this universe can have the “normal” life that Buffy constantly pines for. I like this essay as it raises conversations that I would love to debate with a fellow Whedonite.
  • Nathan Fillion Misbehaves All Across the Whedonverse
    This essay written by Lynnette Porter is a great on about the roles of Nathan Fillion and how even now in Castle he gives the Whedonverse a nod. If anything this essay is too short though it is clearly written with a lot of love.  And who couldn’t love Nathan Fillion he has that roguish quality that draws everyone in.
  • Buffy and Dollhouse: Vision of Female Empowerment and Disempowerment
    Perhaps one of my favourite articles is this one by Angela Zhang it compares the characters of Buffy and Echo and looks at how they are both Empowered and De-powered during their life times on television.  The article raises some thought-provoking points about feminism and the way Whedon writes women. If anything this article does show that Whedon does not take the safe “women good, men bad” attitude that some writers do when showing feminism and also raises the questions about just how feminist is Joss Whedon.

 

 

What is disappointing is that this does not cover much about Joss Whedon’s life which is what I was hoping for a glimpse of.  I was hoping to find out how he became so good at writing female characters or where his love of mixing genres came from (Sci-fi/Western, Horror/Musical, Drama/Puppet Show).  Also his most recent films (Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers) are simply just 101 essays and lack and real depth or substance in my opinion.

Overall this is a good book for those who love Joss Whedon or those who love the various  philosophy and pop culture books which are available.   I would also recommend this book for someone who is just getting into the Whedon-verse as it gives you a great oversight of what he has created and what order you should watch things in (for example the crossovers between Buffy and Angel).

At a £15 ($19) cover price you do get a lot of book for your money so it is worth a look.

Rating: 4/5
Reporter: Amy

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