The library is a great place for readers to discover comics, and it’s a great place for comics readers to check out things that they want to try without spending their hard-earned cash. I’m looking at comics that I find in the New York Public Library system.
With vol. 5 of the hipster-popular Scott Pilgrim series recently arriving in shops, I suddenly realized that I was a full volume behind in reading this series. Perhaps my affection for the series has waned during the lag time between volumes. Perhaps I just found vol. 3 very good but unexceptional. Whatever the cause, vol. 4 dropped without much notice in my world, but having enjoyed the previous books in the series, I went to the library to catch up.
A few of my issues with previous volumes – the characters, particularly Scott, are mostly annoying, and for all his art’s many virtues (and there are many), cartoonist Bryan Lee O’Malley’s characters are often hard to distinguish – remain as minor distractions in this otherwise intelligent and entertaining book. Specifically frustrating in this book, Scott’s girlfriend Ramona and Scott’s flirtation Lisa could nearly be twins. Pay attention, reader, for Ramona’s hair often dangles in front of one eye.
Despite a few problems, however, I still found the book very engaging and fun. The video game-stylizations remain cute, for example Scott’s “level up!” when he makes a personal breakthrough. The layouts work well, keeping all the talking heads’ scenes just as exciting – more exciting, honestly – as the sword battles. While I have problems with O’Malley’s character designs being difficult to distinguish, his character acting is terrific. The story is filled with complicated human emotions, yet you never fail to understand when Scott is confused, happy, lonely, or anything else on the emotion rainbow.
The meta-textual elements are used cleverly as well, with multiple in-story references to other volumes of the series or to the page structure itself. Still, the best part is simply the evolving character arc of Scott Pilgrim. He’s not someone I have much sympathy for, but he’s moving (very, very slowly) toward becoming one. It’s a fun book, a coming of age story couched in outlandish and fun video-game conflict metaphors. If you come across it at your local library, be sure sure to check out Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together. Meanwhile, I’ll cross my fingers and hope for vol. 5 to arrive at the NYPL soon.