Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vol. 3 - Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness Review

When we last left Scott Pilgrim, his Precious Little Life was interrupted, and it seemed that it was him Vs. The World in a fight to keep dating Ramona Flowers. This time around, in the third volume of the series by Bryan Lee O’Malley, Scott and Ramona must each face their exes, a situation that quickly escalates into one of the series’ trademark epic battles. Hit the jump to read the review.

Written by Brian Lee O’Malley
Art by Brian Lee O’Malley

This book starts immediately where the last one left off, with Scott and his group of friends meeting the band The Clash at Demonhead backstage after their show. It just turns out that the lead singer, Envy Adams, is Scott’s ex, and she is currently dating Todd Ingram, one of Ramona’s evil exes.

The meeting is awkward, full of tension and uncomfortable silences. O’Malley incredibly conveys this sense of awkwardness, using lots of silent panels and nervous glances as the two parties interchange pleasantries. There’s some very funny scenes involving Knives Chau, who has a celebrity crush on Envy, and we also get a few flashbacks in to Scott and Envy’s relationship in the past. Eventually, Scott attacks Todd, and finds himself wildly outpowered. Why?

Because Todd is a Vegan. And he is better than normal people.

That means he has immense psychic powers at his control and basically just plays with him while Scott hopelessly tries to land a few hits. Eventually Envy calls off the fight and the parties reconvene at a later date. What’s interesting about this fight is that Scott started it as opposed to the previous ones, presumably because he was jealous over the fact that Todd was now dating Envy rather than because of his commitment to Ramona. This is an interesting point that plays a somewhat larger role in other books. It raises the question if Scott cares more about Ramona, truly cares about her, and wants to fight them to win her over, or if he’s just doing it because he feels it’s his duty. This time around he felt more willing to fight one of the evil exes, implying that he still cares a whole lot about Envy.

All throughout the book we get more peaks into Scott’s early years, such as the time when he was dating and eventually broke up with Envy, and his first meeting with his now-roommate Wallace Wells. Scott and Todd have their next encounter at Honest Ed’s, a large supermarket store. It’s a pretty funny scene, if ultimately a bit pointless since it ends in a technical draw. In the mean time we get to learn more about Todd and his life, including his time with Ramona, and we start to see the seeds planted of his eventual downfall.

Everything comes crashing together in The Clash at Demonhead’s final gig, with Sex Bob-Omb set to open for them. It’s an all out battle royale between Envy, Ramona, Knives, Scott, and Todd, and it’s entertaining as hell. Each battle has it’s own feel, thanks to the different participants, with lots of great character moments thrown into the mix. The conclusion is a bit deus ex machina, which the book openly acknowledges, but it makes sense within the rules established in the book.

The “Infinite Sadness” part of the title is very accurate, as O’Malley brings a heavy dose of melancholy and teenage angst into this book. It’s more emotional than the ones before, without never letting go of the humor or the action scenes. Everyone has gone through some bad break-up and will be able to quickly empathize with several of the characters that populate the book. The flashbacks into the high school years will resonate with plenty of people, I’m sure, the teenage drama that everyone experiences in that part of life.

While Scott is the flawed hero of the book, what makes this series shine are the rest of the characters. Their personalities and their motivations are accurate and clear to the reader, and you can see the engines turning in their heads with each new development. The interactions with each other are what makes the world of Scott Pilgrim leap off the page and into the real world, even if they also get themselves involved into epic battles with each other.

On the art side of things, this is Brian Lee O’Malleys finest hour (so far), as it looks much better than the previous two books. You can see him experimenting more with greyscales and darker shading, which is incredibly fitting with the “Infinite Sadness” in the title. Another interesting thing he starts doing in this book is presenting some of the flashbacks in simpler, crayon-style children drawings. It’s not only an easy way to differentiate the past, but also to speak of the general unreliability of the narrators. They are not painting perfect pictures of the past, just a crude facsimile of it.

If there is one thing I don’t like about this book (and the series in general as well), is the tendency to break the fourth wall. It bothers me less when Scott does it, considering he is the titular hero of the book, but when other characters do it, it completely alts my reading experience. In this one, Envy says things like “We’ve been here for a quarter of this book”, and I can’t help but think it feels out of place (even if this book’s tone is generally not very serious).

Verdict - Must Read. I think this is one of the highest point in the series, O’Malley is able to perfectly challenge the jealousy, melancholy, and conflicted feelings of running into past flame. The book is still very entertaining, action-heavy and high on the joke content, but the emotions he is able to make his characters convey are what make Scott Pilgrim and The Infinite Sadness stand out above the rest.

Want to check out Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness? Buy it through Amazon.com and help support The Weekly Crisis!

Related Posts


Servando Gomez said...

You know i was going to have to stop being friends if you had given it less than "Must Read" :D. Kidding aside, I really dug the book and 3 of my favorite quotes from the series i said there. I have to say that it's not the high point though.

It probably peaks at the next one which has a upswing of improve art and the story is at its best. The rest of the series is really good and its definitively worth it. Especially with the Kim subplot and payoff to it.

Ivan said...

Great review, Matt.

Matt Duarte said...

@Servando: I'll probably mention it in the next review, but I found Vol. 4 to be the funniest book of the series. That being said, I really enjoyed the mix of humor and drama on this one.

@Ivan: Thanks!

Post a Comment

Thanks for checking out the Weekly Crisis - Comic Book Review Blog. Comments are always appreciated. You can sign in and comment with any Google, Wordpress, Live Journal, AIM, OpenID or TypePad account.