Happy Birthday Joss Whedon

Whedonites around the world (and people who know and/or are related to him) recognize today as the day the world was given Joss Whedon. If you've been trapped in a closet with R.Kelly for the past twenty years or so, you may not recognize Joss Whedon as the superstar writer/director who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Dollhouse, wrote some amazing X-Men comics, directed The Avengers movie for Marvel, helped redefine horror with fellow writer/director Drew Goddard in Cabin in the Woods, and made us all sing with the internet - dependent musical Dr.Horrible's Sing Along Blog. That closet must have been a stand-up sensory deprivation tank to block you from all that.

Regardless, in honor of Mr.Whedon's many accomplishments as a creative person and all around swell guy, we thought we'd talk about our top five favorite creations to come from the  Purple Prose-ed One.

5. SUGARSHOCK

SUGARSHOCK! is a one-shot comic book by Joss Whedon and artist Fabio Moon. It was released through Dark Horse and features a space-traveling band full of bizarre folks and a robot wearing jeans. It was originally released digitally, but I bought the paper copy. This comic makes the list for several reasons, but primarily the combination of Joss Whedon writing somewhat absurdist rocker wit, coupled with Fabio Moon art is just too magical not to talk about.  It's a perfect blend, and it doesn't read like anything else Joss had been working on at the time. Not to mention, it also  won an Eisner award for Best Digital Comic in 2008.

4. Malcolm Reynolds

Malcolm Reynolds is the closest thing to a protagonist (outside of River Tam) in Joss Whedon's space-western Firefly. Mal is one of my favorite characters of all time, and this show gave Nathan Fillion (who plays Mal) his first chance to play leading man, which should be reason enough to make the list, but there's more. I personally place this character in such high-esteem because of how incredibly flawed he is. He was on the losing side of a war, everything he hoped for was taken from him, and he has many issues because of this. However, he still tries to make his own way, still intends to " Keep flying". Browncoats follow Malcolm Reynolds example. I'm lumping all of Firefly/Serenity here as well.
 

3. Much Ado About Nothing

Okay, so Joss didn't come up with this. It's his adaptation of a play by William Shakespeare. If you don't know who that is, I don't know how you found this website in the first place, but we'll be happy to educate you!

What I really enjoy about this film is very similar to what I enjoy about Dr.Horrible : this feels like a home-made movie with a LOT of preparation, but with stunning, talented funny actors instead of the kids who might be down the street not trying to build a ramp at the moment.  This movie spun out of an apparent tradition that Joss has had with the casts of his shows: he would routinely gather folks from the show to meet at his house and run lines from Shakespeare and sing and play music. From such humble beginnings the Bard's words have never sounded better to me. Every person in the movie has a stellar moment, and this is quite frankly the best version of this play I have ever seen. So while the play itself didn't come from Joss, the assemblage of cast and choice to emphasize humor (particularly around Nathan Fillion's Dogberry) and play with actors who have shown chemistry with each other in the past (Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker) make this movie one to be remembered.

2. Blindfold

Blindfold is a mutant, created by Joss during his Astonishing X-Men run for Marvel Comics. Blindfold is a precognitive character who seems to have some trouble vocalizing and making clear what precisely she is talking about. Because she can "see" the future without having actual eyes, images and events seem to rush directly to her brain and disrupt her concentration. Why Blindfold makes it to number two on this list however, is 1) She's an X-Men character Joss created, 2) She's a strong, independent and bewildering female character, 3) She continues to be used in some amazing comic books and 4) she's a prime example of Joss' writing style when it comes to differentiating characters.

1. Buffy/Angel

 image pulled from Comic Book Resources

image pulled from Comic Book Resources

Of course Buffy is #1. Through Buffy, the world got to first experience Joss Whedon's writing. Throughout the TV show(s) and now in the comics, Joss continues to dive into relevant issues while still slaying monsters. Same thing with Angel. While solely in the comics now, and with Joss only being able to oversee story rather than write lots of it, Buffy and Angel still feel 'real' enough. Through Buffy I got into everything Joss related, so it will always hold a special place in my opinion rankings.

What are some of your favorite Joss creations? Characters, stories, anything. List them in the comments or leave us a note on facebook.

Happy Birthday Joss from The Write Idea Workshop!