Plot: Scott Pilgrim is the quintessential wannabe hipster slacker douche with no job who sells himself as a "nice guy" to elicit sympathy from women he does not deserve. When not mooching off his roommate Wallace or playing base horribly in his friend's Stephen Stills and Kim Pine's band (Sex Bob-omb) he is dating, leading on, a high school girl in order to forget about his big break-up with his college girl friend.
Secretly Scott hates his life, then the literal girl of Scott's dreams walks into it and everything seems to change. What would be to anyone else the worst news ever, is met with resolve. Ramona Victoria Flowers is willing to date Scott, for reasons that are as vague as everything else she tells anyone, but there is a catch. Whomever wants to date her has to contend with the League of Evil Exes, seven super-villains Ramona dated throughout her life headed by her last big break-up a man named Gideon Gordon Grave. Scott, however, is more than up to the challenge: fighting (for justice) and video games are where he shines. He secretly thinks this might just be the best thing to ever happen to him. It turns out that it is, but not for any of the reasons Scott Pilgrim thinks.
Verdict: Scott Pilgrim starts out as one of the most unlikable characters ever, and that it is good. It is the point of the story and the fun of the first two acts of the first book in the series. He, however, does not stay that way here, at least not in the way he is presented. When the books abruptly shift from mundane reality to video game battles Scott changes too becoming confident, compassionate, and a hero. Along with the fully developed support characters of Ramona Flowers and Kim Pine, we see good in him, and want it to shine in both worlds, not just one. We find ourselves rooting for him to succeed, even though when it comes down to it, until the very end, he is just a right asshole.
The same thing goes, actually for both our leading lady Ramona and our final antagonist Gideon, both are far from nice people, and yet we cannot help but believe in them and oddly empathize. Specifically, this story, like certain others you should check out, is about "Nice Guy Syndrome." It is about where it comes from, what it makes men into it, and what boys and other can do about it before its too late (as it is for our antagonists).
Generally, the story is about dealing with change, the expectations we create versus accepting the responsibilities of reality, which are of course key to forming and undoing the misogyny of Nice Guy Syndrome respectively. What makes it all work is that never is anyone involved in this shown forever in un-empathetic lights nor exclusively from the male gaze. It also helps that everyone is so nonchalant about how quickly their version of Toronto Canada and the universe writ large flips from operating normally to operating on video game logic in seconds. Read and buy these books.
Facts: This is a six volume collection of manga-style comics by Canadian artist, and Hope Larson's husband, Brian Lee O'Malley. There is a rare collection of short stories called Full Color Odds and Ends that contain events that happen between Volumes Three and Four, they add to the story, but are not needed to understand it. The series is currently being reprinted in color, two by two each year starting with this one, but is fully available in black and white.
There is a fun multiplayer, side-scrolling beat-em-up online arcade game (made and musically scored wonderfully by Anamanaguchi) and then there is the movie adaptation of the series. This film is called Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. It was directed by Edgar Wright. It is good fun, but no substitute for the series. The movie follows a different overall plot. The male gaze is the only perspective, and Scott Pilgrim is never confident or likable there. He is played in the film by and as Michael Cera. Scott Pilgrim is a young Barney Stinson (Neal Patrick Harris).