COMICS: John Reviews “Scott Pilgrim Vol. 3” by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Envy Adams, Scotts ex-girlfriend and lead antagonist of Vol. 3

Disclaimer: If you haven’t been keeping up with the Scott Pilgrim series (or my reviews thereof), you might feel a bit lost reading this.  Do yourself a favor and check them out before continuing.  But if you really can’t find the time, I’ll transcribe the synopsis that Mr. O’Malley was kind enough to include in the back of this book (though I couldn’t find the flowchart that went with it):

“Scott was dating Knives, and everyone was making fun of him for it.  He was having dreams about Ramona, who he’d never met, and then he saw her in real life, became obsessed and eventually asked her out.  She has seven evil ex-boyfriends and Scott has to defeat them all in order to keep dating her.  So far he’s beaten two of them!  The third one is Todd, who happens to be dating Scott’s ex, Envy Adams.  They’re in a band called The Clash at Demonhead, and Scott’s band Sex Bob-omb is supposed to open for them on Sunday (that’s in two days!).  Meanwhile, Knives is suddenly dating Young Neil (presumably to make Scott jealous,) Stephen Stills is insanely nervous about the show, Kim is feeling weird about meeting Envy, and Scott is freaking out too (because he isn’t over her!)”

Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness, Volume 3 of the series, picks up scant minutes after Volume 2’s cliffhanger ending.  It turns out that the critically-acclaimed and soon-to-be-rich-and-famous band The Clash at Demonhead is comprised of not one, but TWO old flames of Scott and Ramona’s!  Lead singer Natalie V. “Envy” Adams (pictured on the cover) broke Scott’s heart last year, and bassist Todd Ingram is Ramona’s third evil ex-boyfriend.  Scott is put in a triply awkward place after the show: He must do his best to get closure with Envy, defeat Todd in single combat and get his band ready to open for The Clash at Demonhead, all in two days!  It’s a good thing he’s got his girlfriend Ramona, his ex-kinda-girlfriend Knives, his roommate and his bandmates on his side, because he’s going to need all the help he can get!

Truth be told, I feel a bit repetitive in giving these reviews.  Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness is a strict continuation of Volume 2 in both story and style.  The action is still ramped up from Volume 1, but I would say it’s roughly on par with the previous entry in the series.  There’s a bit less fighting in this volume, which focuses more on relationship drama.  With such a tangled web of relationships, how could it not? Thankfully, more of the same is a great thing when it comes to Scott Pilgrim.  The quirky awkwardness of the relationships is so reminiscent of real life that I found myself checking old photos to see if  Bryan Lee  O’Malley had been stalking and following me through my finest and darkest romantic hours, taking notes.  The flashback sequences continue to be the best, partially because of the slightly different art style that gives them a different feel from the present-day material.  Scott Pilgrim’s world has become increasingly more fleshed out and easy to lose oneself in with each volume, and this is no exception.  O’Malley has constructed a world full of enough rich, interesting characters to do any number of successful spin-offs once Scott’s story runs its course.  I want my “Whatever happened to Lisa Miller?” story, gosh darn-it!

Teaser cover for Scott Pilgrim Vol. 3.

Teaser cover for Scott Pilgrim Vol. 3.

Of course, what would a volume of Scott Pilgrim be without video game references?  From Scott and Envy’s old band being called Kid Chameleon (a favorite Sega Genesis game from my youth) to the appearance of save points and hard-won extra lives (which, in the tradition of Mega Man, look like a stylized version of Scott’s head) to a fairly obscure PaRappa the Rapper reference (I gotta believe!), there’s plenty to keep gamers happy.  Non-gamers should not be afraid, though, the only reference that takes prominence in the story is the 1-Up, and I’m pretty sure anyone who reads this book will have played some video game that featured 1-Ups at some point in life.

To keep it short and sweet, O’Malley took the adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” to heart and created yet another wonderful blend of stylized cartoon action and close-to-home romantic drama.  Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness is more of the same, by which I mean solid gold.  A must have for anyone who enjoys the series.

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