Sunday, March 22, 2009

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim returns in this second installment of his quirky, action-packed romance graphic novel series, and his troubles are far from over. The story opens with a flashback to Scott's high school days, when he was new to school and became friends with Kim, the current drummer of their band, Sex-Bob-omb. He rescues her from some psychopathic bullies, and they began dating.

Cut to the present, as Scott's roommate Wallace threatens that if Scott doesn't break up with Knives, his high-school girlfriend he was seeing when he fell in love with Ramona in the last book, Wallace is going to tell Ramona about her. Scott genuinely likes Knives, and he is a non-confrontational sort of guy. But he really, really doesn't want Ramona to know about her, and in a hilarious but pathos-filled scene, Scott finally tells Knives they can't be together anymore.

Knives turns out not to be the timid, compliant girl she appears to be, and her fury and bitterness at the end of the relationship spur her to take some drastic measures, particularly when she sees Scott with Ramona and realizes what has happened. My favorite scene of the entire book is when Knives stages a surprise ninja attack on Ramona in the Toronto Reference Library. Meanwhile, the second of Ramona's evil ex-boyfriends whom Scott must defeat arrives in town. He turns out to be a famous actor and former pro skater, a formidable opponent - but to compound Scott's troubles, his ex-girlfriend calls. She needs an opening band to replace once that canceled, and she's wondering if Sex Bob-omb would like to play. It is clear that Scott has yet to recover from that relationship, but until we see him huddled and trembling on the floor in the wake of her phone call, it becomes evident that he has a ways to go before he can put the relationship behind him.

I find it difficult to articulate what it is about this series that has me hooked. I love the quirky quality - you never know just where it's going to go, and it's fresh and surprising. The relationships among the characters are portrayed so well, through the bold, energetic illustrations as well as the dialogue, and there is an emotional resonance present that is not typical of many graphic novels. The social commentary is there, but it's clever and understated, and the humor is often sneaky and surprising. Readers who are looking for something different, something that will make them think and laugh, will be sure to enjoy this series.

Books in the Scott Pilgrim series:
1. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life
2. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
3. Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness
4. Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together
5. Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (#2 in the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series) by Bryan Lee O'Malley (Oni Press, 2005)

Also reviewed at:
A Book a Week: "The art is simple, attractive, and easy to follow. It's set in Toronto and spends a surprising amount of time in recognizable Toronto libraries, so I would love it for that alone. But the story and the characters don't need any help. They've got me hooked."
Painted Smiles; Written Words: "The characters really are nothing short of adorable, but that doesn’t stop the series from having some fantastically dynamic action shots. And it’s a mixture of detailed and stylized backgrounds and surroundings that moves the story from the real world, surreal in varying degrees, to what feels like an epic video game."


  1. The scene in the library with Ramona and Knives ranks as one of my favourite manga scenes ever. Particularly the pun. I don't want to give it away, but it's awesome.

    I'm kind of stuck, because I'm having trouble getting Volume 3. I might just have to purchase this series myself, oh woe... :)

  2. Kiirstin - I'm glad you liked that scene, too! I thought it was just so much fun - including the part with the sculpture. That's too bad about volume 3 - I hate when that happens. :-( Hope you get it soon!

  3. It sounds a little confusing perhaps but very quirky!

  4. Ladytink - Quirky it is, but, surprisingly, it's not as confusing as it looks. :-)


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