Scott Pilgrim volume 4 by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Once again, I’m another late arrival to a comic book that is a darling of the comic book bloggers, which could have been part of the reason why I hesitated. However, the main reason I had not tried this series was that the concept did not speak to me, and was not aimed at me, a 30-something Londoner who likes comics and films and funk music; rather, it’s aimed at and about a Canadian 20-something vaguely in a band, hanging out and talking. (It’s quite similar to how Greg felt about Scott Pilgrim – see here.)
The most notable aspect of the book is the ‘simplistic-looking’ manga-style art – it is deceptive, looking childish but it is more expressive, with some nice stylistic touches (such as the panels of ellipsis in horizontal panels to indicate a pregnant pause before Scott asks his girlfriend, Ramona, how old she is – she doesn’t tell – or an arrow pointing at Scott saying, ‘shrieking with delight’ when Ramona says she has kissed a girl). O’Malley also does nice action: see the double-page spread of a man cutting an entire bus in half with a samurai sword.
The story is slight – it is about Scott developing his relationship with Ramona while an old crush returns to confuse him, and to continue in his quest to defeat Ramona’s exes in order to truly be worthy of her, or something. Scott gets attacked by a half-ninja girl, Roxanne, who turns out to be one of Ramona’s exes; Ramona and Roxanne fight on roller skates with a sword and baseball bat respectively, in subspace – you don’t see that every day.
Importantly, this is funny. When Scott admits to Ramona that he loves her, he gets +9999 EXP and a level up: ‘Scott earned the power of love’ and he pulls a flaming sword from his chest. And it plays with the form; Scott says, ‘So you dated twins? Am I gonna have to fight two at once in volume 5?’ These nice touches causes more connections than the material itself – I don’t feel any empathy with the characters, the hanging out and eating burritos, playing guitar. I would read the rest of the books if the library got them in, but I wouldn’t chase them. Does this mean I’m not allowed to write a comic blog anymore?