Friday, 18 May 2012


Slightly revised from an Amazon 4* review and entitled:
Welcome to Whedon's World

And it is about the world(s) created by Joss Whedon and not about JW himself (I'll get back to that point later). Fortuitously timed to cash in... sorry, coincide with the release of The Avengers movie and resultant raising of his profile, this book is a collection of essays about his TV shows, films, and comics. Given that the book was submitted to the publishers in November 2011, well before the release of The Avengers and The Cabin In The Woods (which are both terrific) don't expect anything of insight into them here.

There is, however, masses of stuff about his other, er, stuff with the biggest chunk being about, no surprise here, Buffy The Vampire Slayer. It's a mix of overview, interviews, and rather academic essays. As an example of the latter, one writer interprets Whedon's excellent run on The Astonishing X-Men in the light of the writings of modern historian Francis Fukuyama and if that sounds appealing to you then you're really going to love this book. If there is a preponderance of academic style essays in this collection, it should also be said that they're mostly reasonably accessible to the general reader.

If there's a tendency to find subtexts under every (metaphorical) rock in Whedon's work, at least some of the writers are aware of this tendency to see things which aren't there. As mentioned in an introduction, one writer (not represented here) wrote that the killing of the character Tara in Buffy was deliberately anti-feminist while the truth is that the actress playing Tara wanted to leave so Whedon used that to enhance the drama.

Basically anyone who's a fan of Whedon's oeuvre (i.e. in non-pretentious language: his work) will find much of interest in this very comprehensive book which goes some way to explaining why Whedon has become such a cult figure. In essence: we identify with his concerns and characters to such a degree that we feel that he is us and we are him. Or, as Nelson Mandela put it in his one acting role: "I am Joss Whedon." (Actually he said, "I am Malcolm X," but don't tell.)

What, however, this book won't tell you is much about Whedon the man and Whedon the life. I'm not knocking it for that; it is what it is. But what we fans would very much like is a, preferably, authorised biography of the great man which goes behind the scenes of his work and how the tv series and films were put together, his problems in doing so, his relationships with the production team, cast, crew, groupies (just joking), etc. With his profile so high, now is surely the time. Meanwhile we've got this to keep us going. 

And just to add colour, here are are some of his greatest hits.

No comments: