Welcome back to the Scott Pilgrim Book Club. We’re psyching ourselves up for Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour (out now!) 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 4, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together. (And read our comments on volume 1 here! And Volume 2 here! And volume 3 here!)
DOUGLAS: I’m pretty sure this is my favorite volume of the series. It’s definitely the funniest, not least because O’Malley flicks in so many magnificent gags they can fly past you if you’re not paying attention: “half-ninja,” the pee meter, “show me how!,” the explanatory caption at the bottom of a grocery receipt, “Hey, you know your hair?,” Knives shrugging “I dunno, he was speaking Chinese or something,” Scott suddenly realizing how dehydrated he is and begging Wallace for water… Even when O’Malley leans a little harder on a joke, it’s worth it. This volume has my pick for the funniest line in the whole series: “Scott, I’m sad that I’m about to die, but I’m not sad that you’re about to die. I just want you to know that.” (I always heard Kim Pine’s voice in my head as a slightly more grown-up version of Peppermint Patty from the Peanuts animated cartoons; I’m delighted that that seems to be roughly how Alison Pill is playing her.)
MIKE: Uh-oh, I don’t think I get the half-ninja joke.
DOUGLAS: “Ninja” is a marker of a skill set, not an identity or a heritage (how can you be a “half-ninja”?). But Roxy’s really indignant about being precise with issues of identity: don’t call her a ninja, she’s a half-ninja! And I hope you’re happy with your 2.4 kids!
(More on Techland: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Book Club: Volume 1)
Speaking of which: this volume’s also all about the L word and the other L word, isn’t it? From the hilarious “let us never speak of this again” moment onward, “Gets it Together” emphasizes that this is as gay-friendly as ostensibly straight romantic comedies ever get. (I also love the fact that Wallace is moving in with Mobile, but seems to be dating other people too.) Stephen Stills doesn’t mind a bit that Joseph’s macking on him (and something seems to be going on behind that studio door); perhaps that’s why he’s looking down at his drink when Julie apologizes for being jealous of Lisa…
And we get a sense of both how deeply clueless Scott can be (via the constantly forgotten Jason Kim, who seems to have borrowed Scott McCloud’s shirt, as well as the birthday routine), and what’s actually okay about him. For Scott, “getting it together” is the same thing as leveling up–he realizes that he can deal with a job if he just thinks of it as another kind of system he can master. He’s slightly less of a callow jerk than he was a few volumes ago, and not only because he gains the flaming katana of love: he actually handles a difficult emotional situation with Lisa as well as anyone could be expected to, given that he seems to get drunk on pizza. (Okay, I identify with Scott’s non-drinking a little too much.)
MIKE: He’s less of a jerk? He seems the same as he’s always been. In fact I’m not sure I see what Scott’s redeeming qualities are? He’s a burden on his friends. It’s been alluded that he’s not a stellar bassist. He has a history of bad breakups and two timing. He can barely take care of himself. He’s a grown infant. He matures some in this volume with the love proclamation and the job (which he gets fired from for a day or so), fine. Aside from that it’s same ol’.
EVAN: Nah, Mike, Scott’s definitely growing. In the scenes where Lisa’s coming on to him, I think old Scott would’ve gone there. Not necessarily out of a Vegan Todd sense of entitlement, but more because he just kinda went along with things that felt good without thinking of consequences.
(More on Techland: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Book Club: Volume 2)
DOUGLAS: Also, I need to mention my favorite bit of character work in this book: slightly drunk 17-year-old Knives Chau, such a huge Sex Bob-Omb fan–and giving them so much cathexis–that Stephen’s song means much more to her than it does to him.
This is the happy-ending volume of the series–it begins and ends with “don’t you wish this moment could last forever?,” and the next-to-last scene is everybody happily sharing a meal. If it’s not quite a wedding, it’s the next best thing. But there are two books still to go, and this one hints at how everything is about to go to hell in volume 5. Young Neil is quietly getting nudged out of the Sex Bob-Omb circle. Ramona has been with Scott for months, and she’s still not telling him a lot of important things (as he levels up, he says he doesn’t care about why she’s not answering his questions; maybe he should!). And Scott’s seen something awful inside Ramona’s head (where, incidentally, she’s wearing a Merge Records T-shirt). Dine and laugh while you can, people.
MIKE: Were the first ten or so pages in color for everyone else? I thought maybe I had a special copy or something. It really made all the difference, didn’t it? Loved those pages. I often have to make sure I know which girl is talking (Kim/Ramona/Lisa). Color made it easy.
(More on Techland: Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World International Trailer Is Seriously Rad)
DOUGLAS: Yeah, the color section at the front is just terrific-looking. Not a lot of accomplished black-and-white cartoonists make the transition to color easily (or vice versa), but this part just jumps out and radiates happy summertime beach vibes.