Welcome back to the Scott Pilgrim Book Club. We’re psyching ourselves up for Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour (due out July 20) and the Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World movie (due out August 13) by discussing each volume of the series over the course of six weeks. This week, Douglas Wolk, Graeme McMillan, Mike Williams, Evan Narcisse and Christine Lim are talking about volume 2, coincidentally also called Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World; feel free to chime in below in the comments. (And read our comments on volume 1 here!)
DOUGLAS: This, it seems to me, is the volume where O’Malley really hits his stride, and realizes that he can get away with basically anything he feels like doing. The title character is nowhere to be seen on the cover? No problem. Start the volume with a 30-page flashback? Of course. Stop the plot for a few pages to explain a recipe? Sure thing. Shift to Kim Pine’s POV for an extended sequence before Scott walks in and takes over again? Naturally. And so on.
EVAN: The shift to Kim sets her up, to me, as the most enigmatic and fascinating of the main cast members. She seems oddly wistful about her past with Scott. Is she still in love with him a little? There seems to be a lot unspoken there, and I can kinda understand why Scott would be nervous that Ramona and Kim might be getting buddy-buddy.
DOUGLAS: Kim clearly loves Scott (plus how unnerving is it that in the opening scene they start making out while she’s still chained up?)–which is why she gives him so much grief when he’s a jerk. She knows that there’s no way they’d work as a couple unless he grows the hell up. So guess what he’s doing in this series?
CHRISTINE: Who is telling the story of 16-year-old Scott Pilgrim? Is Scott flashbacking himself? If so, I would understand why Scott would be making out with Kim–who is wearing a conveniently wet, white shirt–before unchaining her. If Scott is recalling events, I could see Kim replying to his request to date, “Yes, Scott! Oh, yes!!” Otherwise, I think that response is so not Kim–not even something that a less-hardened teenage Kim could utter.
GRAEME: Isn’t the flashback told by the omniscient narrator? Now I feel like I need to go back again to check.
And it doesn’t really bother me that Scott and Kim make out when she’s still chained up, because it felt very pulpy. They’re so overcome with emotion that they make out as soon as possible and before danger has passed, instead of having any bondage overtones or whatever.
DOUGLAS: This is also the first volume that really feels like it’s set in Toronto–to the point where when I went to Toronto last year I walked into the Reference Library (where Knives and Ramona’s fight scene is set) and it was instantly familiar. (The up-side to this book being drawn very quickly, as I get the sense it was: really spectacular kinetic energy. The down-side: a bunch of the background figures in that scene are two-second doodles, and it shows.) And the Second Cup is a real place, too, even though every other comic book that’s ever needed a coffee-shop location has made one up.
God, Scott is a jerk. Breaking up with a 17-year-old right when she tells you she’s in love with you? Kim’s reaction in the next scene was my second-biggest laugh of the book. Actually, I love the whole Scott-and-Kim dynamic–right in the middle of the recipe scene, Scott brushes away their old relationship with “that’s all ancient history, so don’t worry about it, Rammy.” But dealing with her ancient relationship history is exactly what he’s spending the entire series struggling to do. And then Ramona gets to dismiss the idea that she’s still secretly dating Gideon as “crazy talk” when Scott makes what I suspect is a prescient joke. (Lucas Lee ramps up the past-relationship threat level a little, too, from “guy Ramona kissed once” to “guy Ramona dated briefly who’s made something of himself.”)
GRAEME: Bear in mind that Knives really isn’t ancient history – not only does she fight Ramona later this volume, but she stays in the series after that. Scott’s history refuses to go away even more than Ramona’s does. Envy re-appears at the end of the book, Kim never left, and even Lisa Miller reappears later in the series. Is the series really all about how unresolved history can bite us in the ass?
EVAN: You know, Douglas, I feel you on Scott being a jerk, but the sequence where he talks to his parents give a little insight as to his formative influences. You can tell he was probably coddled and grew up very safe, to the point where he doesn’t always know the repercussions of his actions. This is no excuse, mind you, since part of growing up is, in fact, learning those repercussions and how to deal with them. It just seemed to me that Scott may be grew up in a bit of a bubble and has a bit of inherited naivete to overcome. As always, I could be reading too much into this…
DOUGLAS: Biggest laugh: “What does ‘not girl-friendly’ mean?” “It means it’s a sucky little hole in the ground, Scott.” This is a laugh of painful self-recognition, by the way.