Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness


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Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness


  • Words: Bryan Lee O?Malley
  • Art: Bryan Lee O?Malley
  • Inks: N/A
  • Colors: N/A
  • Story Title: Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness
  • Publisher: Oni Press
  • Price: $11.95
  • Release Date: Jun 1, 2006

Can Scott Pilgrim’s life get more complicated than it is? Ask his ex-girlfriend Envy. Or his ex-girlfriend Knives. Or his current girlfriend Ramona. Or one of her evil ex-boyfriends, Todd the super-vegan.

The Clash at Demonhead has come to town, fronted by Scott Pilgrim’s ex-girlfriend Envy Adams. The band rocks, and in a backstage get-together, Lynette Guycott, Envy’s drummer, rocks Knives so hard with her bionic arm that she punches the highlights out of her hair. Envy turns up the heat with her slicing wit, forcing Scott to attack her boyfriend Todd, who, as a master vegan, kicks Scott’s ass soundly. Round II takes place at a store called Honest Ed’s, where all the bargains make Todd’s vegan brain go haywire and sends the store crashing to the ground. The plot thickens when Scott’s crew stumbles on Todd making out with Lynette, and gets thicker still when Envy bates Ramona into a throwdown, Ramona swinging a large hammer she pulls from her subspace purse and Knives throwing herself into the fray just as Scott’s band is about to hit the stage. And as Scott joins in, Envy learns that Todd isn’t the guy she thought he was. When Todd proves her right beyond all doubt, everything comes down to Scott vs. Todd Round III: The Battle of the Bassists.

Reading and reviewing comics as much as I do has turned me into a genre hunter. Though there haven’t been any purely new story forms since Siegel and Schuster created Superman in the 30s, it’s a safe bet that there are more genre hybrids in comics than in any other medium. And in an age when there’s nothing new under the sun, hybrids of pre-existing forms are truly the spice of life. Consider Scott Pilgrim, for example. In what other medium could "Street Fighter meets Slacker" get greenlit and then become a hit? It’s hard to say just which genre(s) Scott Pilgrim could call home, but that is at the heart of its charm.

Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness never fails to entertain thanks to snappy pacing, wry but earnest characterization, and humor that comes in all flavors. Bryan Lee O’Malley’s writing never loses touch with his characters, and because he stays true to them, the action and humor have a greater effect. Even if you’re cooler-than-cool, you can’t deny his lead character’s appeal—Scott Pilgrim wears every inch of his heart on his sleeve, but is no whiny wuss. Well, maybe a little when it comes to the little things. But when it comes down to serving up a fight, Scott channels that ardor into his feet and fists. O’Malley surrounds him with a strong cast of villains—super-vegan Todd and his ex-girlfriend Envy—but it’s Scott’s friends that make his story such a great read. O’Malley’s strong sense of how his characters sound and behave works particularly well with the women in Scott’s life. Young Knives, who does a lot of growing up amidst one disappointment after another. The cooly mysterious Ramona, who’s totally down for Scott nevertheless. And Scott’s friend and ex-girlfriend Kim Pine, who in many ways has been the emotional rock throughout. Scott’s name may be on the marquee, but it’s the women who give Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness its depth and richness.

O’Malley’s artwork is plucky, intelligent, and action-packed. While it’s easy to see the manga and cartoon influences, by now it’s much more interesting to consider the ways in which it’s already influencing other genre hybrids such as Sharknife and Death Jam. These are the first of many to come, I imagine, as O’Malley’s style has become as much a trademark as an ideological statement about the wider possibilities of sequential art. "Cartoony" instantly comes to mind when viewing O’Malley’s images, but this in no way is meant to be construed with "limited." Indeed, in terms of producing distinctive and endearing characters, conveying feeling and action, and telling a story with images, O’Malley’s art gets as much done as the work of others who are considered rock stars in the medium. And it’s doubtful that many other artists could so seamlessly blend heartfelt sequences tackling the ups and downs of youthful relationships with completely outrageous and wacky fight scenes.

Like its previous volumes, Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness crosses boundaries and defies genre. Like the best comics, it’s in a class of its own.

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