(If you’re not, ask to borrow it. Instead of reading this. I’ll wait for you to come back addicted…)
It was the shiny cover that did it.
I waited ages for my copy of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Universe (aka SP5), and when it finally came, I tore open the package to discover a land of shininess and awesome design. It promised so much, after the pure joy of Gets It Together (that’s SP4). Nothing had warned me about the cover, which was already bringing back the joy of discovering an all-new shiny in your Pokemon card booster pack. I admit that I hoped a little that it was only mine that had it, as a special gift for being so patient and awesome. I was ready to revel in all that freshly-discovered love as it accelerated towards some infinite joysphere.
On the other side of the book, I am in a world of emptiness. When I reread the series to prepare for SP5, I began to place it in Comics History- the current movement, led by Morrison and Fraction, that seems to be moving away from the early ’00s tendency towards what Morrison called “a showcase …that they can actually write convincing TV and movie scripts”. And embracing the colourful Pop Insanity comics do so well. (Or, as he puts it: “the raw and the primitive and the ‘who gives a fuck, this is the shit!’ element”, in a surprisingly good IGN interview.)
Scott Pilgrim is a character defined by the fact that things do work out for him. He exists, pretty much, in his own world, but the world he’s placed in works for him too. He gets all sorts of stuff thrown at him but, like Kim says: C’mon, it’s Scott Pilgrim. And maybe it’s a fantasy, but the same rules, generally, seem to exert themselves on my life. The morning before I got down to reading SP5, a friend reminded of my ability to luck out on stuff.
Which just meant the bad times hit more personally. Up till now the classic story’s played on, boy meets girl, beats baddies (and has at least a couple of times in his lifetime) because that’s just how he rolls. But 5 throws a whole batch of stuff at him, for a whole book- the title should’ve warned me: Scott vs the Universe, Ramona’s face should have warned me. But I was too busy looking at the darned shininess of that cover.
As it stands, this is definitely the Empire Strikes Back episode of Spaced. Which makes me appreciate the serialised format. As a person, I tend towards discrete chunks of culture: I watch TV on DVD so I can just jump straight to the next episode, I don’t like picking up comics I know will never end. I like albums. So maybe I’m a little spoilt. Film can throw all the misery it likes at you but, presuming there’s a happy ending, it’s never more than 2 hours away.
I finished the book and sat around, feeling a little empty, waiting for the next book to arrive and make it all better. Then remembered, it won’t be in my life for a whole year at least. So, somewhere out there, Scott Pilgrim’s stuck in a limbo of misery. And the only way I can rescue him is by reading the next book. COME ON SCOTT PILGRIM 6!
(The next thing I did, instead, to fill that hole, was read the awesome articles on it here, by Kieron Gillen and especially here, at Savage Critics. That also inspired another thought, which I might get round to today…)