This isn’t exactly an Android’s Dungeon post since it’s not a review of a comic so much as me telling you that you really should stop what you’re doing and get your hands on the Oni published volumes of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s beyond genius manga, Scott Pilgrim. My interest in the book came down when I caught director Edgar Wright’s Vimeo Blogs during the production of the upcoming Scott Pilgrim movie. I knew nothing about it but I think Edgar Wright is the shit. I figured if I was going to write about the movie, which also stars Michael Cera, for once not playing the awkward guy, as Scott, I should probably read the comics and get a feel for what they’re all about. Now that I have, I feel as though I can speak authoritatively on this production as well as recommend to you, in good conscience, that you read these books.
The eponymous Scott Pilgrim is a Toronto-based 23 year old living a charmed life. He’s a slacker living in a tiny apartment off the good graces of his boy-crazy roommate, Wallace. Since he doesn’t have a job, he fills his ample free time by playing bass in a band called Sex Bob-omb (the first of many, many video game references), sleeping and dating a 17 year old high schooler named Knives Chau. However, his obsession with Ramona Flowers begins when she invades his dreams and then crosses his path in real life since she orbits the same social circles as Scott. In spite of some awkward advances on his part, they soon after begin dating, beginning a complicated set of maneuvers to keep Knives and Ramona apart. But that doesn’t even begin to cover how difficult things get as the first of Ramona’s 7 evil ex-boyfriends line up to do battle with Scott.
The first two thirds of the first volume of Scott Pilgrim, Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, is your fairly standard exercise in a humor comic. The characters seem like slightly exagerrated people you know in real life and talk with a rhythm and vocabulary that no one uses yet seems very familiar. However, it’s the final third of the volume that propelled the book from simply entertaining to absolute brilliance. For most of the book, O’Malley is clearly channeling the spirit of manga but it stays within the confines of reality, breaking away to occasionally best express emotion through the sort of extreme facial expressions that manga is usually known for. It goes off the deep end, however, when Scott’s band plays with Crash and the Boys, a band whose final song is so intense, it renders the audience unconscious. This is shortly followed up by an epic confrontation with Ramona’s first evil ex-boyfriend, who engages in a frightening Street Fighter 2 style battle complete with Scott pulling off combo moves and repelling fireballs. It goes from sane to batshit in the span of only a few pages. I was instantly thrilled about the movie. That is, on one condition.
A while back, I saw the Japanese live-action adaptation of the anime, Cutie Honey, which is a fairly insipid cartoon about a goofy robot girl but the movie went all out to combine the tokusatsu stylings of Power Rangers with the outrageous antics of an action anime and somehow it wound up working out in the movie’s favor. If Scott Pilgrim is to take this approach, where the zany manga representations of Scott fleeing Knives in terror when she kisses him, or his fight with Matthew Patel are represented as close to the comic as possible, I’m going to be all over this movie. Given Edgar Wright’s relationship to comic shop culture, I’m going to go ahead and count on that kind of representation. The first video from his video blog is pretty much all about sword training and rehearsals for the fight scenes.
In the meantime, buy the god damn comics, will ya?