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Get It Together! The Scott Pilgrim Chronicles - Part 3

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“I can’t even get near him! I need some kind of…like…last minute, poorly-set-up deus ex machina!!” – Scott Pilgrim

Scott Pilgrim and The Infinite Sadness

Greetings and salutations, noble Broken Frontiersman and welcome to another edition of Get It Together! The Scott Pilgrim Chronicles. Today, we direct our attention to Volume Three, Scott Pilgrim and The Infinite Sadness. That’s a pretty joyful title, right?

It’s not all doom and gloom for our hero, but he sure isn’t going to have an easy go at his next opponent, Todd Ingram. Revealed at the end of numero dos, Todd just happens to be the bass player for Scott’s ex-girlfriend’s successful and immensely popular band, The Clash at Demonhead.

Now, let’s take a step back to appreciate all the delicious layers of this coincidence. Scott has dated and fallen for Todd’s ex-girlfriend as well as his current flame and band mate, Envy Adams. To assume this might not be personal for Ingram is insane. Previous opponents were a little more cavalier about the whole ordeal, like it was their duty to fight Scott – like a soldier that considers their deployment just a job. With Todd, there’s shared history and a reputation to maintain. The same situation and feelings are shared by Ramona and Envy. It’s an amazingly tense and deliciously entertaining four-way of emotions.

Seeing Ramona express jealousy (verbally and physically) signifies to us, the readers, that for the first time she is finally emotionally invested in Scott. Her hipper-than-thou attitude melts away when threatened adding a level of sincerity and humanity to Ramona. Up until now, she’s been the cool girl that Scott coveted. We just assumed her worth because of our affinity to Scott. O’Malley really fleshes her out in this volume, bringing her more down to earth with flaws, genuine emotions and a past from which she keeps trying to run away.

More so than the previous chapters, The Infinite Sadness relies heavily on flashbacks, giving us origins and insight to most of the major characters. We get to see the relationship between Envy and Scott, the beginning of Wallace and Scott’s friendship and hints to Ramona’s past. It all moves pretty fast, but rarely approaches confusing. All the flashbacks are signified with black panel borders and are presented within the context of established scenes. The pace is so well-timed that O’Malley brings us in and out of these daydreams without a hiccup. There’s even a subtle flashback within a flashback that had me laughing out loud.

The Infinite Sadness of the title refers to the lack of closure we too often get when it comes to young love. Almost everyone has a story of the one that ripped their heart out. Time doesn’t necessarily heal it. The hindsight time affords merely allows you to see all the ignorant truths that lead to your shattered heart. No matter what is resolved, it’s a feeling that changes you forever - an infinite sadness.

Both of our leads possess this sadness and before the series ends, both will have to reconcile themselves with it if they want to survive as a couple. In volume three, Scott gets one step closer to maturity and Ramona keeps trying to suppress what happened in her past. The pendulum is on a swing, with hapless Scott becoming a little more in touch while Ramona acts more insecure and human. Halfway through the story and this can definitely be considered a turning point.

For comedy to work, you have to nail the timing. It doesn’t matter what you say, it’s how you say it. It’s tough to get a laugh, ten times harder without the use of sound. Something not mentioned in previous reviews is O’Malley’s handle on comedic timing and use of space. His panel layout bends classically, but he infuses it with a frantic energy that is responsible for fun splash pages and self-referential jokes.

Have you ever heard the old saying, in order to successfully break a rule, you have to master it and respect it, or something or other (I’m paraphrasing). Every nuanced nod to the reader or visual reference to a video game by the creator is far from normal comics, but still adheres to the common language of comic books. He possesses a talent for finding magic within the box and it’s all over these pages.

Noticeably, the personal enjoyment of each installment is growing per volume. This is not lost upon me and thankfully isn’t on you, fellow Broken Frontiersman. Each book actually does get better as the story progresses, both in craft and tale. You’re halfway through and things just keep getting better. Trust us!

Come back next time, where we tackle the next volume and this special feature’s namesake, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together. We’ve passed the hump… you can’t quit on me now.

Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness is available from Oni Press priced $11.99.

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