Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion (book review).

‘Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion’? Yes, he probably is, isn’t he? I bet he’s always ready with a witty line and a bunch of flowers or an open shoulder and a bottle of wine to cry on. After all, Joss Whedon seemed to understand the mind of an angsty adolescent, a 200 year-old outsider with a thirst for blood, a captain with no cause and a doll who lived in a box. He’s currently understanding the mind of near immortals in ‘The Avengers’ and not so immortal but recently made-alive Agent Coulson in ‘Agents Of SHIELD’. Hello then to the ‘can do no wrong now’ Whedon. It wasn’t always like this as he fought to not get cancelled and never quite gave the ending his heroes deserved but at least didn’t do a ‘Lost’ on us.


This book has essays (yes, you heard me) on the man and his creations. It’s not so much a book for the fan as a book for a fan who wants to justify the lost hours watching ‘Angel’ and waiting for another ‘Avengers’ movie. Oh yes, that would be me.

I confess I’ve dipped in to this book. I haven’t tackled the chapters on the comicbooks but I have covered pretty much everything else and I enjoyed a lot of it. Some of it could have benefited by some more zealous copyediting as I found some hiccups in the prose which seem to be a feature of the modern methods of publishing.

‘Joss Whedon: The Complete Companion’ is full of little nuggets and its comprehensive as far as the 2012 publication date and it’s not surprising that Whedon has been pretty busy since this first came out. ‘The Companion’ is wide-ranging and offers some good insights to the themes of the different shows with the many on ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ which too many will always define the wonder of Whedon. The surprise to some readers might be that there is such a range of fingers and pies and although some shows didn’t run as long as others, there is plenty of academic interest in them.

The worst thing you can do after reading some of this book is to follow it back to the episodes of your own particular favourite. After all, everything that has already been made is influencing his current ‘Avengers’ project and continues to make him spread his interests from Science Fiction to Shakespeare to horror. His latest project is a movie called ‘In Your Eyes’, available to return for $5 on the Internet and this is how the man gets our attention. Comics and graphic novels. Got it! Long-running shows with deep and complex heroes and heroines. Got it! Movies with break your heart characters. Got it! There is something for everyone here. I think he’s only just started.

‘The Complete Companion’ may be overstating this, as there are many books out there about our Joss. I liked it with some reservations. It’s more to be dipped in than eaten in big chunks but I’m guessing its aiming itself at the academic market of media studies which continues to grow. I think some of the essays will certainly spark off further studies but some do feel more like commentary which has interest for its own sake.

Sue Davies

May 2014

(pub: Titan Books. 485 page enlarged paperback. Price: £14.99 (UK), $18.95 (US), $22.50 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-85768-986-3)

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