With a film adaptation on the cusp of release, directed by one of Britain’s most interesting and comic-friendly directors, Scott Pilgrim seems assured to pick up the comics-to-movies success that Kick-Ass achieved earlier in the year.
Scott Pilgrim is 23, unemployed and trying to find a place in the world by playing bass in a fairly useless band. He’s dating a 17-year-old school girl – mostly, it would seem, for the companionship – and shares a bedsit with his gay friend.
Then Ramona Flowers comes along. Working as a roller-skating courier for Amazon, Scott immediately realises that she’s the one. Trouble is, if he wants to date her, he’s going to have to defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends in hand-to-hand combat.
This first book in the six-volume series serves as an introduction to the characters and sees Scott undertake his first battle, against Matt Patel.
The characterisation is simply wonderful – O’Malley has an insider’s feel for the geeky misfits of Pilgrim’s world, creating characters that resonate with individuality and charm. His illustrative style is like a cheeky, low-fi manga, but despite the stylistic simplicity, he manages to breathe an extraordinary amount of life into his creations. However, with a few of the characters having a similar look, it very occasionally leads to minor complications of identity for the reader. This spectacularly minor criticism is just about the only negative comment we can make about the book.
Together with the plot, the dialogue and the artistry, O’Malley sprinkles in his quirky magic dust – smatterings of astral magic, psychology, manga action and super-heroics. These are liberally smattered but in such tiny proportions they’re barely discernable. Instead it just adds to a wonderful melting pot of knowing, hip, twenty-something romantic angst (with fighting).
Imposible to categorise, charmingly adorable and ultra-cool in a grungy, indie way, this book is a rare page-turner. Buy it and you’ll probably want to buy the following volumes at the same time.