Written and drawn by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Published by Oni Press
“Scott Pilgrim is dating a High schooler!”
Thus begins the first volume of this modern classic, as Scott breaks the news to his friends that he is dating a 17 year-old. His mates proceed to bust his balls and I could fill the rest of this review with the crackling dialogue from the book.
While refraining from an excess of quotes now is a good time to point out that this will be a spoiler heavy review. Usually I try to avoid giving away too much but I will make an exception for this 10 year-old comic. Plus it was
was made into a seriously rad movie (perhaps the best ever comic book adaptation to film) that was so damn good I know you have seen it. But have you read the comic?
Scott and his mates play in a band called Sex Bob-omb. Stephen Stills is the talent, which means he sings and has side-burns. Kim Pine drums, is acerbic and gets the best lines. “Scott are you evil or are you really happy?”.
Knives Chau is the 17 year-old that Scott is dating and sometimes holding hands with. At least until he has a dream of a girl rollerblading through a desert. That always leads to trouble.
Turns out this is an Amazon delivery girl called Ramona Flowers. She is using the convenient subspace highway that passes through Scott’s head, a trick they don’t teach in Canadian schools (Ramona is American). Scott is immediately smitten and starts pursuing Ramona. While being far too much of a puss to break up with Knives.
O’Malley’s art style is heavily Manga influenced with a thick line and often sparse backgrounds. He has a great way of showing character, (I love the panel below of Stephen Stills eating toast. Who needs Doctor Doom when you can have toast eating panels?) Although cartoony, everything feels organic and unforced, the dialogue is polished just enough and feels like real conversation.
I love how O’Malley labels transition scenes and characters. He might give their name, age and a status or rating in relation to Scott. It’s great for getting in to Scott’s POV and see how he feels about people.
This is just one of the many video game inspired tricks which make the book so fun for this old gamer. There are also; end of level bosses (in this case a series of Ramona’s ex-boyfriends), powerups and moves inspired by Street Fighter.
Even with the ace supporting cast this is definitely Scott’s book. But the big surprise is how much of a dick he is. And that’s one of the best things about it. I spent most of this re-read wondering what his friends see in him; he’s unemployed, mooches off his flatmate and is two-timing a high-schooler. What is so great about this dude?
Actually you’ll need to read a few more volumes to see Scott truly develop. But the portrayal of his uselessness leads to a great turn when he is challenged by the first of the Seven Evil Ex-Boyfriends. The Mighty Kim Pine declares, “This guy is such toast. Doesn’t he know Scott is the best fighter in the province?” Scott then lands a 64 hit air combo and kicks ass in a spectacular fashion.
Another great thing about this book is how damn Canadian it is. We get so used to reading American voices, and this is such a similar yet oddly different setting. As a New Zealander living in Australia I am a keen observer of regional differences and enjoy this slice of Canadian culture.
Should I buy it? Oh hell yes. Scott Pilgrim is joyful comic books, the kind that make glad to be a comic reader . Get on board, collect them all and watch the movie again. It’s all awesome.
Next time: It feels like an age since I wrote about superheroes so I am going to Make Mine Marvel for March and spend the month reviewing some favourite Marvel comics. First off the rank is the delight that is Thor: The Mighty Avenger by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee.