The Comics of Joss Whedon

Critical Essays


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About the Book

A great deal of scholarship has focused on Joss Whedon’s television and film work, which includes Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, The Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers. But Whedon’s work in the world of comics has largely been ignored. He created his own dystopian heroine, Fray, assembled the goofy fannish heroes of Sugarshock, and wrote arcs for Marvel’s Astonishing X-Men and Runaways. Along with The Avengers, Whedon’s contributions to the cinematic Universe include: script doctoring the first X-Men film, writing a ground-shaking Wonder Woman screenplay, and co-creating ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Today, Whedon continues the Buffy and Firefly stories with innovative comics that shatter the rules of storytelling and force his characters to grow through life-altering conflicts.
This collection of new essays focuses on Whedon’s comics work and its tie-ins with his film and television productions, emphasizing his auteurism in crossing over from panel to screen to panel. Essays focus on the comic inspirations and subversive tropes of the Whedonverse, as well as character changes and new interpretations.

About the Author(s)

Valerie Estelle Frankel teaches English at Mission College and San Jose City College. The author of 60 popular culture books and more than 100 stories and essays, she lives in Sunnyvale, California.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Valerie Estelle Frankel
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 256
Bibliographic Info: 13 illustrations, glossary, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9885-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2193-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface 1

Part One: Buffy Comics

The Origin of a Superhero: Sacrifice, Choice and the Significance of Merrick in Buffy’s Journey (Joel Hawkes) 9

Buffy Is in Bed with a Woman? Problematic and Perfect Gay and Lesbian Representation (Lisa Gomez) 19

Separate Worlds or One? Canonicity, Medium and Authorship (David Kociemba and Mary Ellen Iatropoulos) 31

Part Two: Angel and Spike Comics

“Live in the Lie for a While”: Closure in Angel: After the Fall (Thomas Johnson) 51

The Trouble with Spike: An Examination of William the Bloody’s Problematic Progression (Bryant Dillon) 60

Part Three: Tales of the Slayers

“So I wear pearls”: Exploring Gender in Tales of the Slayers (Traci J. Cohen) 73

“There will be Others…Like me”: The Legacy of Otherness in Tales of the Slayers (Kristi Pope Key) 82

Part Four: Firefly

Do Serenity Comics Forecast Our Pedagogies of Identity Construction? (Thalia M. Mulvihill and Christina L. Blanch) 93

Part Five: Dollhouse

Mind-Body Dualism vs. Materialism: Personal Identity in Dollhouse: Epitaphs (S. Evan Kreider) 109

Part Six: Dr. Horrible’s ­Sing-Along Blog

Joss Whedon, Alan Moore and the Whole Horrible Future (Tracy S. Morris) 121

Part Seven: Marvel’s Runaways

Dancing in the Sky: The Value of Love in Runaways (Don Tresca) 133

Part Eight: Marvel’s ­X-Men

Embracing Goodness (and Colorful Costumes) Amid a World of Gray (Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns and César Alfonso Marino) 147

River Is Wolverine: Whedon Performs a ­Sex-Change (Melissa C. Johnson) 155

Part Nine: Whedon’s Other Comics

The Heroine’s Journey from Fray to Wonder Woman (Valerie Estelle Frankel) 165

Comic-Con, Consumerism and Chaos: Reflecting the Fans in Last Angel in Hell, Stan Lee Meets the Amazing ­Spider-Man and Sugarshock! (Valerie Estelle Frankel) 180

Part Ten: The Avengers, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the MCU

Authorship Assembled: Joss Whedon as Promotional Auteur in Marvel’s The Avengers (Leora Hadas) 199

Whedon’s Women and the Law: Parallels from Slayers to S.H.I.E.L.D. (Gail D. Rosen) 209

A Guide to Buffyverse Comics 219

Glossary 223

Bibliography 227

About the Contributors 237

Index 241