Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness by Bryan Lee O'Malley

O’Malley, Bryan LeeScott Pilgrim and the Infinite SadnessPortland, OR: Oni Press, 2006.

Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness is the third in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s epic series of graphic novels of the title character’s journey from immaturity to—well, so far just being slightly less of a self-centered jerk.  In some ways, this book is the story of Envy Adams, ostensibly Scott’s evil ex.

Envy is the girl that broke Scott’s heart.  To make things worse, she is the lead singer of an awesome band, The Clash at Demonhead.  It turns out Scott broke her heart, too.  She moved on to date another jerk.  Todd Ingram isn’t a shlubby, mooching bassist for a little band like Scott.  Todd is a bassist for a famous band, and he’s handsome, powerful, attractive, secretly womanizing, and endowed with superpowers acquired through veganism—he is a total jerk.  Oh, and he’s one of the evil exes Scott must defeat to date his new girlfriend, Ramona Flowers.

It sounds like a soap opera.  It’s better because it has kickass fight scenes.  It also has character development.  It’s not an easy arc for Envy.  She comes in with the upper hand, ready to exact revenge.  She leaves in defeat.  It’s not all bad.  Vengeful Envy was very much in touch with her anger.  Defeated Envy was also in touch with her sadness and regrets, a sense of her losses and mistakes.  She gained perspective.

This is a middle chapter for many of the other characters in the series.  They don’t change much.  The book provides some of Scott and Ramona’s history.  Some subplots take a step forward.

Based on the close of the book, I suspect Envy will return.  It would be okay if she didn’t.  She reached a point where she could move on.  She completed a pilgrimage, essentially going from one place to another, though it may not have been where she planned to go.  She can find a new bassist and start another journey.

I’d like to mention in my last few words on Infinite Sadness something about the setting of the book.  It takes place in Montreal, actually a fantastical, magical version of the city in which vegans are telekinetic.  The setting is urban and the characters are all young.  It is an alien world to me.  I grew up in a rural area.  When I was a young man in the city, I was in college or working professionally.  At 24 years old, the age of Envy, I was working as an environmental engineer, writing permits and inspecting wastewater treatment plants.  The world in which a guy like Scott plays bass in a band, squanders his days with a high school, mooches of his roommate and still dates a woman who is out of his league is nearly as fantastical one in which a delivery girl uses the space in his head traverse space at supernatural speeds (he’s not using the space much).

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