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Scott Pilgrim’ creator Bryan Lee O’Malley branches out with new graphic novel ‘Seconds’

Bryan Lee O’Malley wisely goes in a completely different direction in his first post-Pilgrim comic.
J. Caleb Mozzocco

Four stars

Seconds By Bryan Lee O’Malley, Ballantine Books, $25.

Bryan Lee O’Malley’s last comics work was the extremely successful six-volume Scott Pilgrim series, a sprawling, 1,200-page, arcade-logic romantic dramedy released over the course of six years. So what does one do for a second act? O’Malley wisely goes in a completely different direction in his first post-Pilgrim comic, the full-color original graphic novel 'Seconds'.

Our heroine Katie is about to abandon the restaurant she started for a new venture of her own when she discovers a magical ritual that allows her to fix any mistake she made by simply writing it down, eating a special mushroom and falling sleep. She first makes a small, altruistic change, but soon tries perfecting her present by fixing her past, quickly getting lost in her many alterations of realities.

If the ability to start over and the mushroom “power-ups” call to mind video games, they shouldn’t. Here O’Malley is using folkloric, fantasy tropes, and the format is that of an honest-to-God novel in comics form, rather than of serialized manga collections. In fact, the only things Seconds shares with Scott Pilgrim are its art style, its inventive storytelling and, thankfully, its high quality.


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  • An offhand touch and the plot's peculiar circumstances help lighten the sometimes dark story.

  • The author's new collection is creepy, titillating and impossible to put down.

  • Art history as a continual unfolding of ideas and forms is just one of the author's concerns.

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