Lisa: Oh my god. You killed him.
Scott: Maybe we should go.
Last week, we reviewed the first three volumes of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s acclaimed graphic novel series, which inspired the film.
Scott’s pilgrimage concluded in three more manga-sized editions, published between 2007 and 2010.
All six volumes can be purchased as Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Box Set
Writer and artist: Bryan Lee O’Malley
Slacker Scott Pilgrim tries to get a life, while his girlfriend’s evil exes, his own past, and a mysterious someone else all catch up with him.
Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together won a number of awards, and it represents the high point of the series. It recalls the first volume, improved. Much of it eschews the videogame mayhem, focusing instead on the ongoing relationships among their characters and their development as characters. Stylized and exaggerated they may be, but I recognize Scott and his friends. Indeed, O’Malley could have written some version of this story with the videogame/media perspective only, never slipping into the surreal, videogame style adventures—though I doubt he would have attracted as broad an audience.
When Gets it Together does turn fantastic, it does so with an oddball freshness that bests many of Scott’s other fights and bizarre encounters. The role of hyperspace, the use of Ramona’s bag, and the identity of Scott’s mystery stalker—all of these work effectively and with bizarre internal consistency.
1. The final fight occupies approximately half of volume six. Important as this conflict is, that’s a few too many pages for one fight to carry, especially against such an utter, like, douche of a villain.
2. We’ve already got quasi-realistic elements, filtered through media, and fantastic elements, inspired by comic books. The metafictional “we know we’re in a comic book” references are not used often enough to feel like an integral elements, and they’re definitely not worth the sporadic cheap laughs they generate.
Originality: 3/6. O’Malley’s influences are many, but the results remain surprisingly fresh, half a decade later. However, he does little here not found in the first three volumes. He does, however, do most of it better.
Artwork: 5/6 O’Malley’s artistry has grown over the course of six issues, and the roughness and awkwardness found in the first three volumes he has largely left behind. Gets It Together’s first eight pages, coloured by Steve Buccelloto, are a treat.
Once again, the Toronto settings—from Sneaky Dee’s to the Beaches1 to obscure streetcorners—lend a real-world weight to the often ridiculous and fantastic events.
Story: 5/6. O’Malley handles the mixed tones and elements effectively, for the most part, and gives the story both breadth and breathing room in the final three volumes, which take place over the course of a year. We get slacker meandering, killer robots, personal growth, and theme parties (“Canadian politics circa 1972, but you’re secretly Batman”).
Characterization: 5/6. The graphic novel permits a more expensive plot and greater character development. We see Scott, Ramona, and the others over several months and, videogame and comic-book silliness nothwithstanding, they develop something like real people. Once again, Knives Chau stands out.
Scott’s cluelessness, exaggerated for comic effect, gets carried a little too far at some points.
Emotional response: 5/6. Scott Pilgrim butt-kicks your local comic shop’s usual fare. Scott and his friends grow, but I liked him even when he was a self-centered dork.
In total, the last three volumes of Scott Pilgrim receive 33/42
Scott, if your life had a face, I would punch it in the balls.
FUN FACT: For those of you familiar only with the movie, these volumes deviate more significantly than the first three from the story you know. Indeed, volume six had not been finished when filming started They do, however, end up at something like the same place.
1. It’s “the Beaches” or just “Beaches.” Everyone in Toronto knows this. Everyone with a passing acquaintance with Toronto knows this. Scott Pilgrim certainly knows this. Unfortunately, when Toronto’s City Council decided to do what Toronto City Council loves to do—make neighbourhood nicknames official and put them on signs—it gave the voting public three options: The Beaches, Beaches, and The Beach. The first two split the vote among the majority, and “The Beach”—a name which no one in the history of Toronto has ever used for the region—slipped through the middle. So now the neighbourhood boasts signs insisting it’s “The Beach.”
If Toronto City Council had a face, I would punch it in the balls.