Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life
Relationships are complicated, but they never seem to start out that way. At first, it’s all so very simple: Two people meet, an attraction is formed, and then the two parties begin the long and tedious courting process. Awkward conversations take place between overpriced meals and viewings of terrible romantic comedies starring Jennifer Aniston. With each passing moment one wishes to know more about the other. Superficial questions, yet still important, are asked in the early dates. Time passes and the mystery fades, leaving one with the most dreaded personal question – the end all, be all of relationship questions, “How many people have you been with before you met me?” We have all been there. Learning of a partner’s sexual past usually turns the relationship from something light and casual into something very serious and long term – but that’s if you happen to be one of the lucky ones. It can also take a fatal turn and kill the relationship before you even learn the girl’s middle name. As I said, relationships are complicated. It is this awkward and painful topic that is the main focus of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s six part Scott Pilgrim series.
The first volume, Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, serves as a slow introduction to the bizarre, although familiar, world Bryan Lee O’Malley has built to tell his tale of pixelated blood and tears. The protagonist, Scott Pilgrim, is a twenty-three year old slacker and bass player for the Canadian garage band Sex Bob-omb. Although jobless and forced to share a bed with his gay friend, Wallace Wells, Scott is pretty content with his life decisions. The story opens up with Scott finding himself a new girlfriend, a naive high school teenager named Knives Chau. It is not long until young Knives becomes obsessed with Scott and his quirky collection of oddball band mates, Kim Pine and Stephen Stills. It is hinted to the reader that prior to the events of the book, Scott went through a pretty nasty break up. So naturally Scott is drawn to Knives primarily because he knows that a relationship with her would be simple and, more importantly, safe.
But Scott’s little world of comfort begins to crumble when a rollerblading ninja delivery girl from Amazon.ca blazes a trail through his dreams. This girl isn’t just a figment of Scott’s overactive imagination. Her name is Ramona Flowers and she is in fact a very real person. And like a real person, Ramona has very real problems – seven to be exact. The mysterious Ramona is being stalked by her seven evil ex-lovers and if Scott has any chance of dating the girl of his dreams, he’s going to have man up and defeat every single one of them. The metaphor here is pretty obvious but is done in a humorous fashion and never feels like the reader is being beaten over the head with the creator’s symbolism.
Bryan Lee O’Malley’s drawings, much like the script, is a cartoonish blend of American and manga comic styles. The black and white indy look may put off some new comic readers. But the art isn’t the main draw to the Scott Pilgrim saga. The real reason why there is such a huge cult following for Scott Pilgrim is because of the series’ wild sense of humor and sympathetic characters. The books as a whole are drenched in allusions to geek culture. Character names pay homage to classic rock icons. Bands take their names from old school SEGA and Nintendo video games – not to mention the dozens of quick film, Saturday morning cartoons, and comic book references sprinkled between every panel. These inside jokes never serve as the punchline of a joke but are more like clever winks and nudges to fans with similar tastes. Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life is far from the best of the series but it serves as a strong introduction to possibly one of the greatest comic book stories of this generation.
Score: 7 out of 10