Scott Pilgrim Volume 5: Scott Pilgrim vs the Universe
By Bryan Lee O’Malley
Where we finally reach the end of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim saga and in conclusion ask ourselves the following: What makes a good ending? What’s the deal with Gideon? And would you like to eat a rusty nail?
Wait. What? Last night I read Volume 6 of Scott Pilgrim and it wasn’t the best thing ever.
I mean – it’s possible that maybe I built it up too much. I saw Gravity in IMAX 3D and it blew my tiny mind into smaller tinier pieces (and led one of my friends to make the very astute observation that all of my favourite films / music / books / tv / etc are the ones which “obliterate my sense of self” = LOL). Best scene = when the International Space Station gets torn apart in a shower of space junk and all Sandra Bullock can do is hold on for dear life. Like: the first time I thought it was one of the greatest things I’d ever seen and then so the second time I went to go watch it (yeah – that’s right I went to go see it twice) I waiting to experience of the coolness of that moment again so much that I kinda got tangled up in my own expectations of that one bit that I kinda mentally tripped up over it and didn’t end up managing to revel in it anywhere near as much as I wanted to. And – I dunno – shoot: maybe the same thing happened with Scott Pilgrim 6.
I mean – holy wow: we starting on book 1 all the way back in August last year: so it’s literally been over a year of build up to get to this point and you know – maybe there’s the thing that nothing can be as good as all that when it has the weight of expectation on it. But then saying that – the original publication dates spanned six years so I guess we kinda had it easy?
But then – isn’t kinda the weird thing with comics (for those that are published in installments – which seems like it’s most of them?) is that you end up reading the beginning way more times than the ending?
I mean: I’m not sure if other people are like this: but when I’m reading a series that I really like when a new part comes out (and by “new part” I mean tradeback as opposed to a single issue: but you might be different): I usually reread all (or at least most) of the parts before that: so that by the time all six Scott Pilgrims had come out – I’d read Vol 1 six times, Vol 2 five times, Vol 3 four times etc Which – yeah – means (amongst other things) that Volume 1 is kinda seared into brain while Volume 6 even reading it this time (which I think may be the second time I’ve read it?) was all still kinda fresh and new and – dare I say it? – kinda weird? Like Volume 1 has a very kinda straight ahead structure: Scott is dating Knives – Scott meets Ramona: everything is kinda normal and then Matthew Patel crashes in through the ceiling and there’s the big climatic fight. While 6 is more – I dunno – kinda random? Like the bit at the start (“Things stop happening”) was cool – and just seeing Scott being stuck on pause while it turns out that everyone else has kinda got on with their lives was pretty cool. The main character in a book discovering that he wasn’t such a main character after all = pretty cool (and the rejoinder to some of the bad things people have said about Scott Pilgrim (the book) or not?) but then – I dunno – the actual climatic Gideon fight scene I dunno – it felt like it had too many bits to the point where I kinda forgot how I was supposed to feel. So Scott and Gideon are kinda the same? But at least Scott doesn’t freeze his ex-girlfriends? But he was kinda a dick to them anyway? And everything looks better in Memory Cam? But only Scott can defeat Gideon (by heatbutting him)? But actually – no – only Ramona can? Or something in-between? Or you know – everyone kinda has their issues and stuff?
(And oh yeah while we’re at it: what exactly is Gideon’s deal? I mean is he just a through-and-through bad guy? Or he has deeper issues? Or what? Also – damn it – as much as I really kinda didn’t like the Scott Pilgrim movie – I’ve gotta admit that reading the comic – I do miss Jason Schwartzman’s Gideon… damn it).
I dunno – maybe I’m being simple for only wanting one nice simple message for me to get my head around instead of like six all at once. Or maybe that’s like the point or something?
Or maybe I should get more sleep and read it again? And all the five parts leading up to it all in one go? And having thus lulled you all into a false sense of security I can triumphantly return (on top of a bus) hailing Scott Pilgrim as the best thing ever ever ever.
But hey – what did you think?
The thing about the movie, which I watched ages before I read the series (I crammed it for this group, whoops), is that it kind of codifies the manga influence once and for all. I think I might have gone into this already a little in one of the earlier discussions, but there was a whole wave of anime adaptations of sprawling manga epics that really distilled them down to their essences, or at least tried to. Akira, Ghost in the Shell, X/1999, and so on. It’s essentially the same relationship that the Scott Pilgrim movie has with the comic, and given the relative messiness of Scott Pilgrim as a comic, the strongest parallel is probably with X/1999 and CLAMP’s general tendency towards sprawling, open ended narratives that may never actually end. The film’s greatest achievement relative to the comic is that it really streamlined the narrative and gave Gideon a very clear place in it, whereas he doesn’t even emerge as a significant concern until very late in the comic.
But what the movie loses is the development in the last two volumes and how the wider pattern of Scott’s behavior emerges when Envy, Knives, and Kim re-enter the narrative. In the final evaluation it really feels like the film is more of a compliment or supplement to the comic than something that really stands on its own as much more than spectacle.
What really strikes me about this volume after giving it a brief re-read is how much the major players really seem to be coming from very different narratives. Envy re-emerges and there’s a point to be made that the sense of extreme distance between her and Scott aesthetically as well as emotionally makes sense and works very well, it also feels like a cameo by a character from an entirely different comic. There probably should be an Envy spinoff, but also maybe there already has been in the form of Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl. There’s just so much more deliberation and elegance in Envy’s execution in this volume than there has been for anyone, anywhere else. She’s undergone this gigantic personal and visual transformation somewhere in the margins of this story that is more or less about succumbing to entropy right up until Gideon’s club opens. Yet we’re seeing Envy presented as a giant moth in her performance, which is such a rich, dense image. I could write a whole essay on how powerfully O’Malley distills everything we haven’t seen Envy go through in a few short pages. It’s a level of ambition that you just don’t see anywhere else across the series, which could just be a byproduct of the fact that Envy was the last remaining opportunity this late in the story.
But what Envy also does is open up this vast world of Gideon, threesomes, and David Bowie that were utterly alien to the story until now and it’s a pretty big weakness that we have to take all this in at once, which I think speaks to Joel’s discombobulation. After the down tempo previous volume, there’s a gigantic swelling of both the plot and world that has to resolve itself as quickly as it’s introduced. I don’t really know why Scott Pilgrim had to end at seven volumes. Was it part of O’Malley’s deal with Oni at the time? Was he just ready to wrap it up and move on? Looking at what we see in this volume, there was more than enough room to reconcile with all the new elements in play before moving on to a final volume for the climax and its aftermath. There’s especially not enough room here to really map out Gideon’s place in the narrative and what he reflects in Scott. You can draw some parallels like how Scott preserves these idealized memories of his youth and relationships with Gideon literally freezing his exes, but on the flip side, Gideon is very consciously narcissistic and controlling while Scott is the polar opposite: his apathy and lack of self awareness are his key character flaws. So you can do the work and sketch out these contrasts between the characters, but they just lurk in the subtext. There’s no real clash of ideas or ideologies between Gideon and Scott. He’s just the final boss in a video game who needs to be beaten because that’s how you finish a video game.
“coming from very different narratives.” / “cameo by a character from an entirely different comic” / “somewhere in the margins of this story” = Yes and yes and yes to all of this: which I think is the one of the reasons why I do love Scott Pilgrim so much.
I mean – when I first started with it back at the start of Volume 1 and it’s oh some dude in a band from Canada but – ooooh: it’s being told in a really cool direct and crunchy way and then the oh wow bit when Matthew Patel bursts in through the ceiling: I was onboard. You know: yeah – I like this. I think it’s good. I’m a fan. More of the same please.
And then – yeah – getting to Volume 6 for me the big “oh wow” moment for me is basically the first half of the book where successively scene-after-scene O’Malley guides us through all of the “background” “secondary” characters (whatever you want to call them) and shows us (and Scott) that oh yeah – you thought that these people were just there to serve and support the main character? That the only reason for their existence was for Scott? Well erm actually no – that’s not how it works at all. Actually – they each have their own lives and they’re all growing up and changing in their own ways. You thought Knives was going to love Scott forever? Well no – she grew up out of it and she’s going off somewhere else to uni or whatever. Kim has her life with her parents and doesn’t pine (lol) for Scott. Stephen Stills got a boyfriend. And like you said Emma – Envy feels like she’s off living a life elsewhere.
It’s like – you know how people talk about how when they saw the first Star Wars for the first time and they go to the Mos Eisley cantina and you see all these different aliens and everyone’s mind blows because they’re like: “oh my god – I thought this was just about some desert kid and the robots but there’s a whole universe of stuff out there!” You show a small glimpse of something (in Mos Eisley’s case: different alien masks and droids and whatever): and your mind feels the growing of possibilities. And yeah I mean – that’s how Scott Pilgrim makes me feel. Only instead of just being like: oh there’s all these different alien creature it’s kinda expansion on the level of people: like – OMG – all of these characters have their own lives and their own deals and whatever beyond the boundaries of the comic and the story you’re seeing. And not only do I think that’s kinda cool as a kinda story effect (it makes the world of Scott Pilgrim feel much larger and deeper: like the difference between a piece of paper and a fishtank – altho ooops I think I might have stole that metaphor from here): but also but! I think it’s also a very moral effect too – or something with moral consequences or whatever. You know: other people are beyond the part they play in our story. They have their own inner lives and they’re going through their own stuff. They’re not merely a backdrop for one person show. They’re growing and changing as well.
But I think once that’s kinda revealed – it’s tough to go back and read Scott Pilgrim from the start and experience that same Mos Eisley effect for the first time. Because it kinda feels like it’s there right from the start. I mean – Scott is kinda solipsistic and obsessed but he kinda has to be in order for the revelation that other people are separate and apart from him to work you know? But it means that the rush that I got from the first time I read Vol 6 and saw it all mapped out probably won’t come back…
And so instead all that’s kinda left is the fight with Gideon and well yeah – I mean: it’s just not really worth all the build up is it? Seeing how instead of punching Pretty Much Random Dude (“He’s just the final boss in a video game” = YES!) it would have made a lot more sense (and would have been much cooler and more interesting) if Scott and Ramona had just left the Chaos Theatre earlier and had gone to have a cup of coffee somewhere and tried to talk their stuff out.
I have to say, I feel pretty neutral about Scott Pilgrim, which makes it hard to say much. Here are a few thoughts on flipping through the book after reading it properly:
I did think the book zoomed by super fast. Probably all the extra pages at the end. Unlike in Northanger Abbey, there is no tell-tale compression of pages to let you know the story is ending now. Also it was just really fast.
I did like the way Scott was obnoxiously trying to have casual sex with anyone who moved and it kept being just as awkward and wrong as you’d expect (the asking, not the sex, because everyone just stared at him like he was an idiot. Because he was).
The NegaScot was pretty cool. Life would be easier if you could have an actual fistfight with all your issues.
Did we already know that Ramona’s bag was a bag of holding? I’d love one of those, except evidently you do end up with a lot of pointless clutter.
It was pretty fun that it was Scott’s mum who was the only one who kept a proper count of Scott’s lives, showing that she paid the most attention to Scott, even from outside the story.
The line where Gideon is all ‘Getting rid of me… won’t save you. You’re your own worst enemies! Both of you.’ and Scott and Ramona look at each other and say ‘No, I’m pretty sure you’re worse, Dude.’ ‘You’re definitely worse.’ Even if Gideon was right (not saying he is) that’s still pretty funny, like in Firefly when Mal was fighting the bad guy and Zoe stopped Jane from shooting the bad guy saying, ‘this is just something he has to do himself’ and Mal was all ‘No, it really isn’t.
And finally I liked that the talk in the lift was the real denouement and the real change and growth, not the fight. That seems close enough to them going for a coffee and talking their stuff out.
Ok – so like yeah: the whole Gideon thing. Let’s talk about that.
I mean – I remember the first time I did Scott Pilgrim I was super excited to get to the Gideon-ness. His name was built up for ages and ages (like: when was his name first mentioned? Was it in the first volume even?). So yeah – to finally put a face to a name and see him in all his crazy evil glory and all the rest of it was kinda cool. The thing that everything was leading up towards.
But yeah – I don’t know – this time around I ended up asking myself a lot more questions (which is always a bad sign: I’ve always found that if something is working then my conscious mind just turns off and I you know – enjoy the ride and stuff: but it something isn’t working then the spell doesn’t work and I start to get distracted by the questions – by the stuff that doesn’t work you know?).
Like: what is Gideon’s deal? Why is he the final boss? God help me – what does he like – you know – “represent”? And – most importantly of all for me: what is it that finally allows Scott to beat him? (Because hey that’s what it’s all about right?)
From my memory of it (I don’t have the book in front of me unfortunately) there’s a few moments where it seems like Scott is going to land the fateful blow. There’s the bit where Scott earns the power of understanding when he realises that him and Gideon are kinda the same (they both have the memory cam and they both are kinda shitty to the women in their lives): but I don’t know – as much as I love things like people pulling swords out of themselves and unlocking new T-shirts and etc but I guess that I didn’t really understand the power of understanding – I mean: it seemed like kinda small potatoes no? They’re both kinda jerks? I mean – is there like a deeper level that I’m missing here? I mean – it’s only one small step up from – oh dude – both our mum’s have the same name!
Then there’s the multiple pages of Scott running up to Gideon and saying (something like?): “Would. You. Take. A. Look. At. Yourself?” (is that right?). I mean – the separate pages and the growing Gideon is all kinda cool and stuff. And it feels very effective – but what like (again): what does it mean? Gideon has an obsession with mirrors? Or the opposite? That he needs to look in a mirror? Or something else? Or what? I mean – maybe there’s a level I’m just not getting…?
I mean – compare it to the bit with the multiple Ramona’s which actually does kinda work. You know – there’s a part of her obsessed with him – but it’s just a part. And actually: the rest of her thinks he’s rubbish. I mean – hell: that’s cool. And that actually would have been a good moment to have Gideon’s final defeat which would have worked on a number of levels: you know – it’s not just about Scott. It’s about Ramona doing her own thing and sorting out her own issues and working things through and you know – they do it together as a couple.
But instead – well: yeah – it goes on a bit to the point where erm Scott defeats Gideon by doing thing (?) I mean – seriously – I can’t really remember how it happens (but totally proves my point – but it’s still true). Like it’s the climax of everything, Six volumes. However many years and erm yeah – it’s all kinda unforgettable.
Thinking it over I guess there is a chance that my expectations are a little high maybe (maybe?) because I guess what I want is a single perfect panel. The one point where Scott comes to some sort of understanding about himself. About Gideon. About him and Ramona. Or all three. And then uses it to finally finally vanquish this totally evil dude. But I guess that thing is kinda rare no? I mean The Dark Knight film is kinda cool – but at the end the Joker is hanging upside down and stuff is said but there’s never really like a moment where everything comes together is there? At the end of the Harry Potter books (spoiler) Harry manages to win through some arcane wand machinations or something right? Something about what stuff is made up of or whatever? Whatever: I mean the rest of the books are good – but that final moment – kinda lacking.
I guess because it’s the hardest thing to create. A moment that sums everything up. But also something that you don’t see coming (it’s rubbish if it’s predictable) but that’s also cool – you know? Scanning my head for examples – I guess The Matrix is kinda a good example. Neo dies. And then Trinity does a speech and kisses him. And he comes back to life. And does the “come on” thing with his hands. I mean yeah ok: it’s not one single moment – but all of them are cool. And all of them feel right. And make sense. And cap off everything that was leading up to it.
Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos = also very cool in how it builds up and up and up and up: and yet still feels cool once it gets there (but I don’t wanna spoil it for those of you that haven’t had the pleasure yet).
And Scott Pilgrim? Well yeah – not so much. I mean – I guess maybe of this is how it’s structured – I mean the last few volumes was kinda deconstructing the whole thing and deliberately undercutting everything – it’s pretty tough to go from there back to: oh actually now we mean it again. Like if after The Fountain Duchamp was all oh yeah – now I’m going to paint pictures again.
But yeah – I dunno: maybe it’s just people aren’t that good at endings? I mean it’s easy to start a story but in terms of actually craftsmanship – it all comes down to how well you can stick the landing: and well yeah – most people kinda suck at it: but that’s the point where you’ve already invested all your time and effort into it in which case: well – I guess you can just tell yourself that it’s the journey not the destination or whatever right?
The big climactic moment in the Harry Potter saga is Neville decapitating Nagini. He has a pretty astonishing narrative that just sits in the back and unwinds slowly through the whole thing. He gets introduced as this kind of laughable kid who gets in the main gang’s way at the climax of the first one, but Dumbledore knows his history and he gets what Neville was doing so he rewards him. Then it all comes out, that Harry is The Kid Who Lived simply because he’s The Kid Who Lived. Neville’s life was utterly destroyed to the same degree as Harry, because of the same prophesy, even. All of the pain and none of the trust fund or fame. Yet he’s soldiered on in obscurity the whole time, even lead the resistance within the school up until the final battle. Then there it is, he comes, from Voldemort’s perspective, and our Harry centric one, out of nowhere to deal the fatal blow. The novel, you might pick up on it, you might really feel it if you were swayed to his side before the moment, but the film really drives it home by making it this big moment in the sun for him. It’s not immediately apparent or intuitive, but it’s there. If O’Malley had gone that route, well it would have been Young Neil knifing him in the back and revealing that Gideon had his sister frozen the whole time. That it wasn’t just about Scott. Wouldn’t that have been a kicker.
I think I already said (?) that I came to Harry Potter really really late. Like: I only read them last year (hangs head in shame): but still: I did really really like it. I mean: if I had to choose which of all the books I’ve ever read would be best as a worldwide phenomena like: which book it would be best for kids to read and “get them into reading” and all the rest well then yeah – I would choose Harry Potter because – oh my goodness – it does have a whole bunch of really nice good cool life lessons and a solid chunk of morality running through it’s core which actually gets more heavy as the books go on (Order of the Phoenix being my own personal fave if that wasn’t already obvious: don’t trust authority kids!): so you know – I’m am a Harry Potter fan (even if I’m not always a J K Rowling one).
But yeah: even before I’d read any of the books I read a thing that says kinda the same thing you said Emma about how Harry Potter is actually all about Neville Longbottom. Or actually rather – how it would have been more cool if it was:
But the best part of the theory, the part that makes it all come together, is the idea that Dumbledore, the principal of Wizard High, was intentionally allowing Voldemort to think Harry was the chosen one just to protect Neville. While we're not saying they should have just ditched Harry in the last book and turned the other kid into the protagonist, it would have been pretty cool to have Harry find out he wasn't the center of the universe after all, if only because it would have made the character slightly less insufferable.
But instead: well – I mean: ok Neville decapitates erm – thingie? (I had to google “Nagini” coz I didn’t remember who it was – which probably isn’t a good sign no?) which I mean yeah ok – cool for him. But (from my memory of it): doesn’t everyone get a cool hero moment in the last book? You know: thingie does stuff and the other thingie does stuff and charges the brigade and whatever. I mean – I’ll admit that it’s faded from my mind a little (unlike Madam Undersecretary Professor Dolores Jane Umbridge who is permanently scarred into my mind like well – she was cut into the back of hand: LOL)
But I guess this kinda goes into close reading no? And picking up and building your own story and ideas from little bits of words and images from elsewhere which kinda leads me on to this very very excellent piece of words from David (sometimes LGNN contributor) which is an in-depth burrowing into the very last panel: Looking Glass Hearts Forever
At the moment I can’t even think what to add to it – but it’s one of my most favourite pieces of writing about Scott Pilgrim and something that I wanted to share with the rest of you: because
1. Its cool.
2. I wanted to see what you guys thought of it…
But yeah so. Endings.
I’m kinda obsessed by endings. Like some people get really worked up by acting and whatever. Oh yeah – so-and-so did some really good acting or whatever in that film and then everyone talks about whether they’ll win an award for it or whatever.
I think they should have an Oscar for endings.
Mostly through it seems like we don’t really talk about endings. I think a big part of that is because of spoilers which hell yes I definitely agree with: but then I’m one of the those people that gets pissed off if you even tell when what happens in the first 5 minutes. Even if you just say “it’s good” or “it’s bad.” Because what I want more than anything is to experience something fresh and new and for the first time unspoiled. But I guess the bad side effect of that is that when people write about stuff the never really get much into how something ends. And well – the end is where the meaning. The end is where you find out what type of story you were reading. To use a really dumb thing that just came into my head: it’s like you experience the whole story in black and white and then when you reach the end you’ve given the colour the whole story was in. Oh yeah – this was actually all in blue. Or all in red. Or all in green. And so when you go back you experience it all in a different way.
Like: think how different Harry Potter would have been if it ended with Voldemort winning. I mean – the whole saga would have a very different taste to it if you knew that’s how it ended up right? or you know to use an example that’s actually in the book – Severus Snape and all that.
Endings can change everything.
I guess I’ve already said how the ending of Scott Pilgrim feels like it doesn’t really do anything apart from the things that you’d already expect going in: Scott fights Gideon. Scott wins. Scott gets together with Ramona. And they sail off happily hand and hand into subspace.
The best bits are when the story does things that you don’t expect: when you realise that Scott isn’t the center of his universe. That other people have their own issues and own things happening. Like: did anyone else watch the first episode of Westworld yet? I know I’m setting myself up for disappointment here: but I really liked how it kept not doing the things that I expected to do. Especially when that one English dude recited a whole list of all the reasons why Westworld is kinda a stupid idea: What’s the point of making robots more human? etc. And I guess that is a big part of the reason why fell in love with Scott Pilgrim back when he was only one Volume old: he kept doing things that I didn’t expect. He kept surprising me and moving beyond it’s limits (oops – I guess that’s why I love Lost too).
I could be wrong – but I get the feeling that maybe this puts me on the other side of the fence of most other people. I mean: the common assumption is that people like stories that are predictable and comforting. Everyone likes a happy ending right? Which is why most movies have them (I mean – the only counter-example I can think of in terms of movies from the 21st Century is Cloverfield – but there must be more – right?). And you know: the world is scary and confusing enough. And man – I mean – I’m only a few sentences away from saying something obvious like “go back to sleep sheeple” but still – it’s like when you have an adrenaline rush when you almost spill your tea on yourself: a good shocking crazy ending (which I guess pretty much boils down to everyone dies: which is pretty predictable itself I guess LOL) can make you more – I dunno – aware? Paranoid? Questioning?
But hey – endings are hard.
I mean – anyone can come up with a beginning. Like – it’s just a pitch. Just – imagine this crazy situation. Or – imagine someone like this – doing a completely impossible thing: imagine what could happen!
But to make that all tie up in a way that feels satisfying? That feels surprising when you watch it but still makes sense? That makes things feel complete? I mean – that kinda stuff is kinda rare. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record – prime cut Alan Moore is the only person I can think of who’s always been really really good at it. I mean – we’re doing Watchmen as the next book: and that’s got one of the best endings of anything ever no?
And – I dunno – even something like Mad Max: Fury Road which is totally hot stuff everywhere else: I mean – did anyone else feel like the ending was kinda – lacking compared to what came before? (It’s not just me right?).
In some kind of conclusion then: maybe I asked too much of Scott Pilgrim and Bryan Lee O’Malley? I mean: it’s a whole lot of fun along the way – the observations are sharp, the characters funny, the drawings all dynamic and on point. To wish for an ending that took it to the realm of the transcendent might have been a wish too far.
But being happy with what you’ve got shouldn’t be enough – right?
Barbican Comic Forum
The whole episode – everythi–SPOILERS—ng gets worse and worse and worse. Comically, tragically worse. Beat by beat, they are bound to an increasingly bad fate.
Then there’s a last minute save – and they have an absurdly happy ending that makes total sense. And it’s surprising and it’s wonderful and you cheer.Suprise endings can be great, happy or sad. I like both, I think it’s more a case of what’s relevant to the story your telling and the audience you’ve deliberately enticed.
I mean, Two and a Half Men, if I remember correctly about the articles I read went for a massive surprise on surprise ending. Like they ressurected and brought back every character, including Sheen, gave all of them crazy endings, killed all of them and ended with the creator, Chuck Lorre doing a meta joke about “winning” and making some half assed “it’s all a dream” comment.
…Which is terrible. It’s surprising, but your talking about the epitome of comfort food media and you spend the ending running around throwing meta twist surprises? Urgh. I don’t even have to watch it to despise the notion. Let people who want iron board friendly stories, who don’t know about things like Dan Harmon and Graham Linehan, weep in peace damnit.
If it’s something like El Topo, then yeah, go for the surprise, it’s why I’m here – being challenged is part of the fun. And yeah, more mainstream movies should be into surprise endings, but there’s a balance to be struck. I mean at this point I actively need Marvel to do something dark, after 5 boxes of sugar fireworks cereal I’m down to find myself chewing on a surprise rusty nail.
Also it has to be a surprise in built and demanded by the DNA of the story – something that lends insightful commentary and flows naturally from the story itself. I can buy the toys being incinerated in Toy Story 3 because that would actually be a brutally insightful take on our relationship with our childhood toys. It would be a massive betrayal to the audience – but it would ring horribly true.
Actual book discussion time – I was 18 when I read it and was totally of the “of course they end up together” camp going in. I was insanely hyped, between the final volume and the movie coming out, 2010 was the summer of Pilgrim. And they do get back together and they beat the bad guy and these are all very predictable things, but Malley does a lot of subversive, sharp stuff on the way there.
I mean – it’s the biggest volume with the least amount of progression, it’s basically there just for one insane fight sequence. Which he uses to experiment and jump around and drop character insight bombs left and right.
And vol 6, of course, is where the perspective shifts take centre fold, smacking us out of selfish Pilgrim-cam. The surface plot is “fight Gideon, get Ramona” but it’s really more concerned about using shifting perspectives, the kind that time and the process of aging naturally lend us to point out that both lead protagonists may be likeable, but they are also dicks who do shitty things. It’s a way of Malley seperating the man who wrote the last volume from the first, shouting out loud that he is a different writer now. he doesn’t necessarily look back on old Malley with rose tints. And it’s just a really great way to comment on the Rashomon of memory and is way more fun about doing it that Kurosawa was (Come on that movie was on the nose).
You’ve got to love a character arc that isn’t about money and jobs and wedding rings, that’s more interested in gaining the “ability” to see things from the other shoes and leaving the hero simply on the point of an honest chance forward.
You know, unless you vote for that thing I don’t like. Then I have a reccomended reading list on that rusty nail I mentioned.
So that ending then, when two people who are now honest enough to see how bad they’ve been to themselves and everyone else – who are part of objective reality and not wrapped up in their own drama 100%? They try again, that’s it.
It’s not really anything, it’s just closing a chapter on two characters and giving them a fresh quarter at the arcade cabinet.
(Also dat art. It shames the other volumes, maybe that’s why the perspective stuff is actually there. So Malley can go “no guys, I know it’s actually shit now, but here look at this cool stuff.”)
(Also screw everyone – Scott Pilgrim is a black and white story. It doesn’t need colours, it will beat any rainbow you care to post into shiny quarters for more Time Crisis 2 games).
(…If anyone reads this in the next hour, you should totally just post a bunch of rainbow pics for the hell of it.)
Finally – STEVEN STILLS IS THE BEST CHARACTER EVER. ALL HAIL STILLS AND THE WIT THAT WOULD PUT DISRAELI TO HEEL.
ALL HAIL STILLS. ALL HAIL STILLS. ALLL HAIL STILLS. STILLS 2020. STILLS 2020. STILLS 2020.