Scott Pilgrim Vol. 4: Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together
Bryan Lee O’Malley, writer/artist
Oni Press, October 2007
You see a lot of criticism of the movie Juno centering on its stylized hipster-nerd banter. I haven’t seen the film, but I understand it involves the phrases “home skillet” and “honest to blog,” and that does indeed sound unfortunate. I would guess that someone out there could make similar hay out of the Scott Pilgrim series. Everyone is very “on” and clever and buoyant and witty and catty, a little like a stylized version of what you’d like to think you and your friends constantly sound like: “Scott, if your life had a face I would punch it. I would punch your life in the face.” Surely there’s people who’d just as soon light the book on fire as read lines like that.
I’m not one of those people. I find the Scott Pilgrim world so winning, so immersive. Part of it is that dialogue, which makes you feel like you’re entering another, more entertaining world. Part of it is the books’ Nintendo-realism, and the sense-memory of playing video games conjured up every time Scott wins experience points or levels up. Part of it is the tremendously charming art, which gets more stylized and self-assured with each new volume. While at times I wish O’Malley’s characters were a little easier to tell apart, I actually got the hang of it pretty quickly this time because each of them has some little stylistic filigree–bangs or freckles or a ponytail or a beard or somesuch–that economically sets them apart.
And part of it is the characters. They’re admittedly not the deepest or most complex bunch, but I want fun things to happen to them. I want all of Scott’s cute female friends to make out with each other (even though the trendy-lesbian thing is a little easy–I mean, so am I). I want his roommate Wallace to party with his pants off. I want his snotty bandmates to dole out put-downs like Judge Judy and Dr. Phil. Now, do I want Scott really to get it together? I’m not so sure. I’m kind of enjoying him falling bass-ackwards into everything, like the Dude from The Big Lebowski or Kramer from Seinfeld. Still, I really enjoyed the story of his estranged rock-star ex-girlfriend Envy from Vol. 3, and while this installment’s saga of whether he and Ramona will finally say “I love you” isn’t quite as satisfying, it does at least begin to grapple not just with the emotional aspect of post-initial-infatuation relationships, but also with the sexual aspects, which had kind of been elided until now. I like reading Scott Pilgrim comics.