I read Scott Pilgrim in its original manga-sized, black and white form when it first came out. With the final volume of the color version coming out this year, I thought it would be a great time to revisit the story as well as looking at how the addition of color changes things. I’ll be exploring the story and themes volume by volume. This time, volume 3.
This volume is the culmination of all that’s come before – a lot of Scott insecurities hinge on his relationship to Envy and this volume is mostly about their relationship. There aren’t any real new examples of the main characters’ extended adolescence. Knives, on the other hand, continues her personal growth. This volume begins with her unable to contain herself in front of her fashion and music idol and then being unable to contain the fact that she must be so cool by association as both she and Envy have kissed Scott Pilgrim.
That declaration doesn’t go well for her, and
she spends a bit of the volume wondering about her relationship to Scott and what it’s done to her. Again, despite being the youngest character, she has the biggest bouts of self-realization and understanding of anyone in the cast. Scott has essentially removed her innocence when it comes to relationships, but she’s learned from it rather than letting it destroy her. Of course, the next page’s apology from Scott sends her back into a Scott-love-fest, but, she’s still doing quite well for her age.
In at lot of ways, this volume is the most about the past and Exes yet. For starters it features both Scott’s Ex and Ramona’s Ex. And, in a not uncommon situation, their Exes are dating each other. The first consequence of this is that, after Ramona meets Envy she wonders why Scott dated Envy and what that means about why Scott is dating her. Although she knew about Kim and Scott from before, it piques her interest and she actually asks both Scott and Kim about it. As we know, Scott’s memory is unreliable and Kim isn’t interested in getting too deep into it. Of course, for anyone who’s dating as an adult, this is definitely a real issue. Many of us pretend (or even genuinely) don’t want to know anything about Exes. But when we meet an Ex, we can’t ignore the situation in front of us. Is the Ex the opposite of you? What does that mean? That he’s changed? And why did he change? Or is she somewhat similar and what does that mean? Does he have a type? Are you just one in a long line of similar people?
Related to this is the concept of being the first person to share something special with someone. Or even if it’s not that special – does he/she take everyone to this restaurant on a special occasion? Reminds me of the chorus of Want You Back:
In the case of Ramona and Envy, it’s Todd punching a hole in the moon. He’d done it for each of them, cheapening it for Envy and allowing Ramona the “I got that first” attitude.
After two volumes of wondering why Scott is so neurotic around Ramona and why he’d be so depressed about adult relationships that he would date a high school girl, we find out that it’s all due to Envy. As I read this volume a second time and as I thought about it for this article, I went back and forth on Envy. She’s clearly meant to be the antagonist and destroyer of Scott’s innocence. But in a lot of ways it’s just a tale of an uneven relationship and of growing up. Back in high school I found myself in many uneven relationships. Often the girl fell much harder for me than I did for her, but sometimes it was the other way around. It’s pretty sad when Scott’s declaration isn’t reciprocated. But that’s not really Envy’s fault.
Also, as they continue to grow older, she decides she wants to dress a certain way and to smoke. These things happen, it’s why most high school couples don’t make it through college together. Again, Envy’s not nice about it – or about most of the way she treats Scott, but it’s not as mean and evil as it seems at first blush. We learn that she was in a band with Scott and Stephen called Kid Chameleon that was offered a record deal, but the boys were afraid of selling out. The feeling I get is that, with time, Stephen and Scott perhaps wish they’d taken the deal. They’re nowhere near as famous as Envy’s band, even if they’re not “sellouts”.
As we continue to explore Scott’s broken memory, we see how he became friends with Wallace and the story’s almost exactly the same as the one with the girl who liked him back when he got with Kim Pines.
Also, with Scott not drinking, we have this strange exchange:
The only reference to extended adolescence in this entire volume was this exchange that made me chuckle:
Gideon actually appears in this volume; additionally, this is the first time Ramona says exes instead of ex-bfs. I don’t know if O’Malley was purposely trying to keep astute people from guessing what the future held or if it meant he didn’t know he would make that change ahead of time.
In the first issue I noted one scene that didn’t work as well in color as black and white. This volume also has a joke that works better in the black and white version:
Time for the Gen X/Y references:
- p10 – before going to Envy, Scott sees a save point
- p82 meta – 32 pages of tidal waves
- p82 university in the sky – video game / anime reference? – Both have these elements
- p120 hammer space – also an anime and video game reference
- p152 time to end this volume
- p158 – deus ex machina
- p166 – Scott gets an extra life
Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan O’Malley with colors by Nathan Fairbairn.