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Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
By Bryan Lee O'Malley
Published by Oni Press; $11.95 USD

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World There is no series in comics quite like Scott Pilgrim, and no cartoonist quite like Bryan Lee O'Malley. This is work that is alive with joy, and packed with story. And in this second outing, O'Malley does precisely what you'd hope he would -- the unexpected.

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life started small -- a discussion among friends in a kitchen -- and ended huge, with O'Malley beating and twisting multi-genre conventions until the final result was a spectacularly satisfying, wild ride that encompassed the best elements of artcomix and manga stylings. Throw in a phrase I had never even heard until Pilgrim came along, "game logic" -- that is, the rules of the world the character inhabit seem startingly and delightfully videogame-like at the most unexpected moments -- and Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life wound up one of my favourite works of 2004.

O'Malley's extension of the story from the first volume is note-perfect, unpredictable and thrilling, with the same humanity, humour and sharp characterization as the earlier volume. O'Malley starts with a flashback, one that sheds new light on Scott Pilgrim while mining his selfish, self-involved personality for honestly-earned laughs. The two-page sequence where Scott half-ignores Lisa while playing videogames is a great example of how O'Malley understands his characters, and people in general: The wide-eyed shot of Scott staring at the screen while a caption and arrow tell us he's "NOT ACTUALLY LOOKING" at the girl he's talking to is a perfect summing-up of young Scott's investment in the conversation, and a sly, observational moment that show's how skilled a cartoonist O'Malley is.

The book is filled with such moments of humour and character, all the while moving the characters along and fully involving the reader in their lives: Scott, Wallace, Knives, Ramona, and the rest, all live and breathe right there on the page, thanks to O'Malley's gift for dialogue and character, and a sharp directorial sense -- he knows exactly where each scene should begin and end for the maximum impact of exactly the emotion he wants the reader to experience.

Scott Pilgrim is pure, unashamed joy of comics, O'Malley digging deep into the cartoonist's toolkit and leaving no trope or tradition unexamined. His artwork is a genuine pleasure to take in, lush backgrounds and attractive characters depicted with energy and grace, and most importantly in a work constructed like Scott Pilgrim is, a master's understanding of when and how to tone it all down and just let his characters be who they are. Grade: 5/5

-- Alan David Doane

Send review copies to:
Alan David Doane
Comic Book Galaxy Reviews
24 Larose St.
Glens Falls NY 12801

The ADD Blog by Alan David Doane. Trouble with Comics Reviews of comics and graphic novels. Commentary about the artform and industry of comics. Get back to the main page.

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