|I just read it for the second time after running to a comic shop yesterday, picking it up, devouring it, and being too depressed to write anything about it. Some of the depression was because I had just finished it and would have to wait another year or two for the final book. But at least some of the depression came from the plot.|
The book is aptly named, not merely a repeat of Scott Pilgrim vs The World. Everything really is stacked against our poor Scott as his love and friends start to collapse around him. Scott still has the social and mental maturity he gained in Gets It Together, but it might not be enough when the rest of his world and support structure is collapsing. The lack of Wallace Wells (and his fantastic lines and mushroom umbrella) was felt by me. Not only did Wallace provide the mental support and backup to the best fighter in the provinces (can you tell I've been obsessively rereading the previous books in anticipation of this one?), but he was somewhat separate from the Sex Bob-omb axis of Stephen, Kim, Neil, Julie (that bitch!), and even Knives.
It's no wonder the boyfriend (and robot) fighting is largely background to the greater drama of character interaction, particularly Kim and Ramona's. Scott will beat the Twins, because c'mon, he's Scott Pilgrim. But what happens after all that? Scott might be coming to terms with his past failures and mistakes, and working to right them and become a better person, but Ramona obviously has not.
I was rereading Gets it Together before the book, and came upon a scene I had forgotten about, but which disturbed me even more this time around. Scott, escaping from Knives Chau's father, runs into subspace and stumbles into Ramona's head, where she is sitting there in semi-BDSM gear at Gideon's feet. She looks so happy and content there at the knee of the books conception of evil, feeling great in her subservience. It reminded me a bit of people submitting to ALE in some of our favorite Morrison books. I'm still trying to puzzle out what I think of this scene, but it is definitely a different Ramona than we or Scott are familiar with, someone who is not in control, who has given over to something else, and something decidedly malign.
O'Malley has never shied from hinting that Ramona might be the girl of Scott's dreams, but she is not a dream girl. She can be just as petty or dishonest as any of the characters, causing a great deal of hurt and pain. This metaphor is of course externalized as the evil exes of her past hunting her down and forcing Scott to deal with her past in a very physical way. If anything, Ramona's faults are pointed out the most by these two exes. The other happened over the course of normal dating and breaking up, but here, Ramona crossed a line. Ramona's exes might not be evil by their own nature, but made evil by Ramona's own selfishness and callousness.
The thing about Scott Pilgrim vs The Universe is that he's at least started the process of growing up and gaining maturity. He already fought and denied his darker half in volume 4, that grinning evil that I could personally relate too. In his darkest moments of this book, it returns, but he can ignore it, not give into it. Now he has to deal with the rest of the crap the universe is throwing at him.
My other favorite character (other than Wallace Wells), Kim Pine, really gets the spotlight in this book. If anything, she's the biggest enigma to me. Still her snarky self, I haven't quite been able to figure out Kim's motivations, her deal. She obviously cares for Scott, but does she still have feelings for him? Or is it merely her being a friend. I'm perfectly willing to write off her kiss with Knives from last volume (and let us never speak of this again), as drunken messing around, but it sort of parallels Ramona's curious interest in Kim.
Kim smiles a lot in this volume, probably more than ever before. It's always when she is hanging out with Scott, such as when he is kicked out by Ramona. At the end of the night and some tasty Thai, she is happy to spend some time with him, and only goes back to her sullen face after he minimizes their time together. Likewise, after he rescues Kim from the twins, reminding me of how they originally got together (I had to fight 96 guys to get to him, and I kicked him so hard he saw the curvature of the Earth!), Kim has a smile on her face. It's only after Scott pushes her away to go after Ramona does she look unhappy.
I liked this book a lot, it showed a great deal of maturation in both art and writing. The characters themselves were great. Stephen Stills has the power to be ultra-laconic, and his simmering crush on Knives leads him to let slip some damaging info. Julie Powers is still an evil bitch. One might think that Knives would finally be getting over Scott, but it looks like none of his other girlfriends can get over him either. Stacey Pilgrim had a fantastic line that made me crack up.
But yeah, the book is darker. It makes sense, this is all leading up to a great finale, where I hope that Scott Pilgrim will beat the snot out of Gideon, and Ramona can conquer her own demons and everyone can be happy together. I just can't wait.