The first four volumes of Scott Pilgrim definitely hold the top spots on my “mandatory” reading list. This volume in particular holds a special place since it was the first volume that I read upon its initial release. After wards I become subject to the waiting game like everyone else. This is also the volume in which the majority of the story changes pace. Unlike in the film the characters’ lives move on and progress and this volume marks the beginning of the end. It’s funny still, but it’s also a little sad. There are also plenty more lines from this volume that made their way into the film or vice versa I really don’t want to pretend that I know which came from what, but I will always assume the comic first. In this volume O’Malley flexes his storytelling muscles or in my opinion really becomes a storyteller. Sure the jokes, references and homages are still present, but everything is just slightly toned down in lieu of the character development and plot. This is the volume in which Scott Pilgrim and his friends become your friends. The previous three volumes we we’re just watching and viewing their antics and taking in the spectacle of Scott’s physical battle with Romana’s evil exes. Instead we’re now hanging out with them at the beach or even helping Kim move into a new place because we agree her last place sucked. Quite simply there is history with these characters and the readers now.
It’s also the last good volume of the series. That pains me to say that, but it’s not an opinion that’s been built over time. It’s an opinion that I’ve had since the fifth volume which in my opinion is the worst of the series. It was O’Malley’s first volume that was turned in on time and frankly I think that that is the reason why it’s so bad. Sure the deadline was met, but if another three months would have produced a better story then I could have waited. I’m hoping that the color version will win me back over, but we’ll cover that next year when the volume is released and frankly I’m not hopeful.
So perhaps my long history lesson slash experience with the series has left you wondering what this volume is actually about since you haven’t read it or just want to know how it differs from the movie. Well as I said some dialog is lifted from this volume but used in a completely different context. Lines like, “I’ve kissed the lips that have kissed yours” are still spoken by Knives, but delivered to a drunk Kim Pine before the two make out. The fabled “L-Word” scene happens in this volume, but again with a slightly difference context. The overall story is really about Scott having to grow up and he and Romana taking their relationship to the next level. In fact in this volume is when we see them act like a couple. Not just two people dating and getting to know each other, but a couple. The couple you hate because they’re so damn cute together (I’m never been bothered by this, but I know that I’m ½ of that couple in real life). That’s really the entire volume in a nut shell; moving on with life.
Sadly this could have been a great spot to end the story. Sure some of it would have to be re-tooled to make sense, but it could have worked. O’Malley even asks his audience via Scott’s dialog “Can’t this be the last volume?” Of course knowing the struggles of the fifth volume and the finish line run of the sixth volume, I’m sure plenty of fans would say “yes” if you asked them today. Unfortunately when the book was originally being produced it was a resounding “no” and “get back to work” that the fans delivered.
What’s so interesting for me is that I was the same age as Scott when I read this book. I’ve aged since then and he hasn’t. I know that a sequel would be awkward and probably just result with something more in the line of the last two volumes rather than the first four, but can you blame me for wanting to catch up with this world and these fictional friends?
Don’t get me wrong this volume is fantastic and the coloring from Nathan Fairbairn continues to be amazing and breathe a life into this series that makes a colored hardcover worth a purchase. But in a lot of ways it’s like finding a picture of an old lover and being transported to a time and place that you can no longer go to. At least Scott Pilgrim offers a complete picture and doesn’t rely on my own fading memories to fill in the blanks. I always struggle picking a favorite volume of Scott Pilgrim and as I’ve re-read the first four in color I’m sure that I’ve said to myself, “this is my favorite for sure” until the next volume arrived. Well I’m going to remember this volume now and when people ask me why they should read it I will say volume four is the reason.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Bryan Lee O’Malley Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn Publisher: Oni Press Price: $24.99 Release Date: 11/13/13