Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Scott Pilgrim, Volume 1: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley

The movie adaptation of this comic book series came out during my second year of college. I went to go see it with friends and we were totally blown away because everything was so "scene" that it literally hurt, and also all the video game and anime callbacks, plus the fact that it was kind of like a Jackie Chan movie as done by Judd Apatow. My twenty-year-old brain was blown away by the awesome, and it never occurred to me to question the fact that this book puts "slacker" culture on a pedestal, features an unrepentant manchild as a protagonist, and has a twenty-three-year-old who's in a relationship with a seventeen-year-old. Ew.

My brother recently lent me this to read, since I'd never actually read the graphic novel, and I was pleasantly surprised by how closely the movie follows this installment at least. Twenty-eight-year-old me is far less impressed with Scott. He's actually a creep. The kind who sends creepy messages about dating on non-dating sites, talking about "connections." I didn't like how he free-loaded off his roommate, Wallace. I didn't like how he basically trashed his band's effort because he didn't want to look like he was too involved, thereby risking rejection and loss of face. I didn't like that he was dating a high school girl, and I didn't like that he cheated on said high school girl, seeming to argue that because their relationship wasn't sexual, he couldn't actually cheat on her. I didn't like how he stalked Ramona at the party, and then, when he found out where she worked and that she was the primary Amazon delivery driver in the area, orders something online, thereby forcing her to come to his door, and then asks her out - while she's on the clock - and not signing for the dang package until she agrees to go out with him. Scott Pilgrim is the absolute worst kind of over-entitled male, the kind that people write books about, and I was surprised at how much I could not stand him.

That said, all the other characters in this book are great. I liked the band mates. Knives Chau was cute. Ramona is cool (albeit in a manic pixie dreamgirl way). Wallace is awesome. The surreal, video game/kung-fu movie atmosphere is still present in the comic books and I liked that air of magic realism. The book, like the movie, is also so "scene" that it hurts, although since the book was published in 2004, it comes across as far more dated. For example, Scott refers to Amazon as "that book selling website." Amazon used to only sell books and CDs before becoming the mega-online retailer behemoth that they are today. There are a few other dated references like that that kind of made me smile a little, even though they feel so jarring (I'm getting old! oh noes!).

Scott is not an ideal male by any means, but the art and the story are compelling regardless. Even if you don't like Scott, the story itself is pretty cool, as is the medium in which it's told. He won't be winning Man of the Year any time soon, but I would definitely read the other books in this sceries.

3.5 out of 5 stars

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