Image by Aaron_M via FlickrScott Pilgrim is an awesome series, blah, blah, blah. Bryan Lee O'Malley is a great writer/artist, blah, blah, blah...
I know, I know, I keep going on about this series, but it's become my summer reading of choice for 2009 (not to say I don't love reading teaching books and texts about sociolinguistics!). And fair enough, what could I say that I haven't already written about the series. Well, hear me out, because it just so happens that O'Malley makes a great shift from awesome to...um...awesomer, in the fourth volume, Scott Pilgrim Gets it Together. Now, I know what you're thinking: "How could an already awesome comic about awesome video games, awesome manga, and awesome indie rock be an awesomer?" Well, O'Malley pulls it off.
For starters, what has been a story told, so far, over the course of a few days, the plot suddenly jumps ahead a couple of months and picks up after Scott and his would-be-girlfriend Ramona have spent a wonderful summer together. O'Malley does some amazing storytelling here, recapping their summer with the story of one particular day told in eight coloured pages--a welcomed first for the series. O'Malley perfectly captures the speed but splendour of summer--with a wicked Sonic the Hedgehog title screen reference--and then continues the story.
The story itself, continues Scott Pilgrim's coming of age tale, but unlike the previous three volumes, Scott actually grows as a character. That makes sense, but one could see where O'Malley may have been tempted to keep his main character a lovable man child forever (like so many webcomics with similar themes). For the first time in the series, Scott begins to feel the burden of *bum, bum, bumm!* adult responsibility--the lease on the studio apartment he shares with his gay roommate is up, his band begins trying to record an album, and Ramona begins to get all "where-is-this-going" about her relationship with Scott (right when each of them has yet another ex show up to tempt them). So Scott has one important choice to make: does he continue to act like a teenager forever, or does he finally grow up? Happily, he "gets it together" at the volume's climax, which is quite simply the most epic yet!
And this is the other area in which the story is awesomer (= new favorite word). There are more video game, manga, and rock references/relatable moments. It's crucial to understand this isn't simply a matter of quantity over quality. It's more that O'Malley seems to have become more comfortable/intuitive/aware of how to make use of these references; he seems more confident about how employs them, which shows that while Scott grows as a character, O'Malley grows as a writer. That's good to see.
All in all, this is easily the best entry in the series I've read so far (I'm holding off on Volume 5 with the final installment a good year away). I can't deny I'm excited about the movie. I'm interested to see what Edgar Wright's (of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame) take on the series is. And just as I've been thinking that with all of it's old school gaming references the series would make a good 16-bit video game, word comes that one is in development. Oh happy day!
Questions? Quibbles? Controversies?