Reviews

Scott Pilgrim, Vols. 1-3

Greg Oleksiuk

Scott Pilgrim is one of the most enjoyable comics out there today, blending western and eastern artistic influences, as well as infusing its plot with various video game, comic book, movie and other pop culture influences.


Scott Pilgrim, Vols. 1-3

Publisher: Oni Press
Price: $11.95
Writer: Bryan Lee O'Malley
First date: 2004-07
Last date: 2006-05
Amazon

The quality of comics has always been in question. Too often, gimmicks are used to propel story-lines, and characters get so bogged down in continuity that new readers fail to appear. Another problem is that sometimes, comics are just not that much fun. They lack the sense of wonder and adventure that can be found in various other mediums. Enter Bryan Lee O'Malley and his popular creation, Scott Pilgrim. Scott Pilgrim tells the tale of an early 20-something and his attempt to get through life in the city of Toronto. He lives with his gay roommate, and is dating an 18-year-old girl named Knives. It's shortly after he and Knives start dating that he meets the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers, who works for Amazon.com as a delivery girl. Once Scott decides to pursue Ramona, it is then that his adventure begins, as he learns that in order to date her, he must defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends in battle.

So far, in the first three volumes (Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness), Scott has had to battle one ex-boyfriend per volume, putting him that much closer to his ultimate goal: Ramona Flowers. The concept itself is simple, but it is quirky enough, and with the injection of such pop culture references as comics, video games, and movies, it makes the Scott Pilgrim books some of the most entertaining comics around right now. It is this kind of work that shows why independent comics, much like independent movies, can sometimes be far more entertaining and rewarding than what the major publishers put out. In fact, the first volume was not on the shelves for more than a few months when Hollywood took notice and currently the director of the zombie love-fest Shaun of the Dead, Edgar Wright, is attached to direct the adaptation.

Scott Pilgrim conveys an atmosphere that irresistibly draws the reader in. Perhaps it is the universal tale of falling in love and having to struggle to keep it; perhaps it is the numerous references to video games, comic books, and other geeky pleasures; or perhaps it is just because all of these factors meld together so well, that rather than being cheesy or silly, this comic comes across as genuine, entertaining and enthralling. The only downside of it is that fans have to wait months, if not an entire year, between each volume.

O'Malley skillfully blurs the line between reality and fantasy as he depicts his characters as realistic, going through the same problems everyone else does. He even touches upon the issue of not being able to find work after attaining a university degree. Where the blurring begins is when he injects elements of fantasy, such as having Scott fight Ramona's evil ex-boyfriends in order to date her. These fights, however, are far from the standard punch-out that one would expect to see. Rather, they may have more in common with video game battles than anything you have seen in movies or on television. O'Malley also injects funny quirks, such as having Ramona's ex-boyfriend in the third volume be telekinetic because he's a vegan, or having Scott find health bonuses and power-ups. It is these details that invoke the world of classic Nintendo video games such as Super Mario Bros. or Legend of Zelda.

O'Malley's artwork is very much influenced by Japanese Manga comics. In fact, his publisher, Oni Press, publishes each volume in a digest format with a high page count. It would be difficult to see these volumes broken down into 22-page comics, as a lot of the storytelling and pacing would be lost. The higher page number format allows O'Malley to develop his characters and build the tension as Scott prepares to battle a new evil ex-boyfriend each volume. In fact, the character development has gotten so complicated, that in the third volume, O'Malley felt it necessary to include a guide at the back to describe how each character is connected to one another.

Scott Pilgrim is one of the most enjoyable comics out there today, blending western and eastern artistic influences, as well as infusing its plot with various video game, comic book, movie and other pop culture influences. It shows what comics are capable of, and that fun comics do not have to lack intelligence and complexity.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image