- Posted by Johanna on January 16, 2008 at 6:33 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: by Bryan Lee O'Malley
- PUBLISHER: Oni Press; $11.95 US
I’d been looking forward to this latest volume in the series, but when I started reading it, I realized I was having a hard time telling the characters apart, since O’Malley’s minimalist blockhead style doesn’t give very many points of reference. So I reread the previous books:
- The first: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life
- The second: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
- The third: Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness
That greatly improved my enjoyment, as well as aiding me in realizing the depth of the characters and their interactions over time.
Like an upscale manga volume, this book opens with eight color pages of the gang at the beach, throwing us right into their loves and spats. Scott’s still concerned about meeting and defeating Ramona’s evil ex-boyfriends, only this time, there’s a twist. And a distraction, as Scott seeks employment.
He’s somewhat hampered by his immaturity. Ramona likes Scott because he’s “pleasant and simple-minded”, although the same quality is also beginning to wear on her, as his lack of curiosity means he knows little about her. I thought Scott was acting pretty naive, but then I remembered book one, where he was pleased as punch about dating a high school girl six years younger than he is. The two had no physical contact, mostly just talked about her friends, and I realize he’s always been young for his age. Which may be why he’s so stupid when an old girlfriend of his shows back up. He doesn’t reassure Ramona about his feelings for her, and he makes dumb choices about hanging out with the ex.
At this point, the series has become an addictive soap opera with an attractive cast of varied young adults, the independent graphic novel version of Gossip Girl, only with downscale socioeconomic status and a video game overlay. Scott gets experience points by getting a job, icons such as thirst meters appear over heads, and then there’s the guy with a sword who slices a bus in half. This approach can sometimes lead to resolutions that seem a bit out of nowhere, but if the book is working for you, it’s easy enough to go with it. It’s certainly entertaining, both creatively and visually.
O’Malley’s art, although distinctive and simply styled, continues to build layers into the world he portrays. Characters have more complex expressions, and the settings are more detailed and fully populated.
As part of an ongoing series, this volume isn’t as intriguing as some of the others, because its function is to do the job of getting from here to there. In the previous books, Scott was merely occupied with being cool and having nifty fights with the exes. Here, there’s actual development of his character to a more mature place — through relationships, occupation, battle, and living arrangements. He’s having to grow up, and at the best moments, it’s touching how he handles it, including making his own choices instead of letting others do it for him. It’s a good read, not as great as some of the others, but it lends hope that the next volume, with the new Scott, will be even better.