I am a big fan of Scott Pilgrim; my introduction to the series was to buy a copy of this book in its original incarnation from writer/artist Bryan Lee O’Malley at a book festival in Halifax. For the purposes of this review, I’m going to divide the potential reader into the following groups: 1) those who have never read the books, and 2) those who have. Whether or not you have seen the film is immaterial; the books contain a lot of additional story that is well worth reading.
So if you are in group 1, should you buy this book? Probably. I feel that the cover price is a bit steep ($25 for a colour hardcover, compared to $15 for the black and white paperback), and artwise this is the weakest of the series; but the story is still one of the smartest and sharpest things you will encounter on the shelves, and the colour by Nathan Fairbairn is very well done. The lettering has also been “remastered”, whatever that means, and the artwork generally sharpened and tweaked to show off the colour as well as possible.
And if you are in group 2? Personally, I don’t feel compelled to buy the series again in colour. Oni Press has added some nice design touches reminiscent of the film, and some “behind the scenes” material by O’Malley at the end, but I would rather save my money for O’Malley’s new book due next year (or his wife’s adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time, for that matter). Of course, your mileage may vary; I can easily imagine a hardcore SP fan replacing the paperbacks with these new hardcover editions.
What a time for us aging comics fans. I remember Stan Lee’s pipe dreams in 70s Marvel Comics, promising us that a Silver Surfer film was in the works, that a big-screen X-men movie was coming any day now, true believers. Now we have not only the movies, but also reprints of the source material in easy-to-find trade paperbacks. Most of North America still shakes its head at the nerds and hipsters who read comics, but they are at least resigned to tolerating them.
And then there are those who love or even worship the nerd. I myself am in love with a girl who kicks my ass at Mario Kart. And we both love Scott Pilgrim, especially the new film by Edgar Wright, which takes a good series of graphic novels and uploads them to the big screen with a style and visual language and energy that other adaptations rarely reach (or even attempt). Iron Man 2 is a limp afterthought-sequel by comparison.
Much ink has been spilled about the surface elements of this film: the homages to video games, the comic book-style impact lettering, the Canadianisms; but at its heart, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a fusion of a coming of age film and a heroic journey. Michael Cera, as the 22-year-old Scott, brilliantly mixes the anxiety of young manhood with the weariness of a character like Rob in High Fidelity. Like Rob, Pilgrim has enough of a romantic past that he has been wounded and wounded others. He is both thrilled to have a chance with the exotic (American!) Ramona Flowers and insecure about her past.
As much as we are probably meant to identify with Scott, I found myself identifying with Ramona too. There are wonderful, quiet moments peppered throughout the sight gags and smart exchanges that give us a glimpse of the damaged hearts trying to connect. One that I particularly recall:
Scott – You disappeared.
Ramona – Yeah, I do that.
Like Ramona and Scott, most of us have made some bad calls with relationships, are scared of getting hurt again, and might even have an evil ex or two. In the end, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World offers a message of hope and redemption with a kick-ass soundtrack and fight scenes.
High-five, fellow nerds.