No Capes Allowed: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life
I have pledged to never review any comic book here in NCA that features a “superhero” with “super powers” or even (and especially) a cape. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t review a comic book where the protagonist thinks he’s a superhero. Such is the case with the series of Scott Pilgrim graphic novels starting with the first hilarious, compelling, and action packed book, Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley.
Okay, let’s just hash it out now. The big ‘ol 60 million dollar elephant in the room: the movie. Comic book aficionados and fanboys of all ages clogged the blogosphere with opinions about the comic-to-movie adaptation of this post-modern classic from the second it was announced that the movie was in development. Some loved the idea, some hated it. And even more disparate opinions abounded once the movie was released. The choruses of “Finally!” were only drowned out by equally adamant cries of “Sellout!”
Guess what? Who cares! Why? Because the book stands on its own as a fantastic work of storytelling.
For those of you who have been living under a ten ton pile of cheesecake for the last ten years, the Scott Pilgrim series is about a young man is his early twenties who is dating a girl named Knives Chau. Suddenly his budding romance is turned on its head, though, when he meets the enigmatic Ramona Flowers, who he falls for instantly. But there’s a problem. In order to be with Ramona, Scott must face and defeat all seven of Ramona’s exes. Like, actually annihilate them.
While it can be argued whether or not the movie version “worked” on every level, the comic effectively creates a world that is easy to become invested in and characters that are incredibly relatable. At first glance, the artwork may seem hastily dashed off, but the style of the images are as much a part of the feel of the world as any of the dialogue. And while the drawings may have a simple, two-dimensional feel, the characters are anything but. O’Malley is able to communicate in a one line toss off or a casual sigh what many novelists can’t capture in a thousand words. The characters are, at times, uncomfortably familiar. It almost feels like we’ve stumbled upon the comp notebook of that hilarious, geeky kid in our chemistry class that we always wanted to hang out with, but never had the nerve to talk to.
The real heart of the book, though, are the relationships. Every interaction is so specific that it only takes a couple panels to understand the personal history therein. From the second we meet Kim Pine, we know there’s some unfinished business between her and Pilgrim. And Scott’s head-shaking phone call with his older sister will elicit chuckles from anyone who has ever had an older sibling who thinks they hold the sage’s wisdom to life, the universe, and everything.
Most importantly, though, Scott Pilgrim is just plain fun. This is a comic by a fanboy for fanboys. In a good way! From the inserted video game-like “stats” whenever we meet a new character, to the play along at home guitar tabs and lyrics, to the incredibly satisfying Manga-esque showdown between Scott and the first of Ramona Flowers’ evil exes, it’s all just pure and addictive pleasure reading.
In short, whether or not you liked/loved/hated the movie, the book is its own monster and is worth its weight in video game tokens. It is $11.99 and is published by Oni Press Publication.
What did you think of the movie versus the comic?