I haven’t even seen The Avengers yet (why is it so hard to get a babysitter?), and yet I’m thrilled to bits as its outstanding box office. Why? Because it gives a bit of vindication and recognition to one of my pop culture gurus, Joss Whedon.
But Whedon has been far from overlooked until now, particularly among critics and academics. And that recognition is what you’ll find in Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion, an overview of Whedon’s body of work, from the TV series and movies to comics and the Internet sensation Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.
The book comprises well over 50 essays and explorations, covering everything from the themes of sexuality and heroism to Whedon’s propensity to kill off beloved characters. To the book’s credit, it’s not a complete love-fest, as essays like “Failure of the Everyman: The Lost Character That Was Xander Harris” and an exploration of Whedon’s screenplay for Alien: Resurrection show that Whedon has his misses as well as his hits.
Though the going can be a bit dry at times, there are interviews to break up the flow of the essays, including interviews with Whedonverse writers Tim Minear and Jane Espenson, and with actor Alexis Denisof. There are also some lighthearted bits, such as the timely “Six Reasons Why Joss Whedon is the Perfect Director for The Avengers” and the self-explanatory “Nathan Fillion Misbehaves All Across the Whedonverse.”
It all ends with a list of every episode of Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse, for you anal-retentive list-making types (raises hand sheepishly).
Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion provides food for thought along with its appraisal of Whedon’s work and what he’s brought to contemporary culture. I highly recommend it for fans of any of his work!