Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour
Scott Pilgrim: Volume 6
Written and Drawn by Byran Lee O’Malley
Release date: July 20, 2010
This sixth book in the series has already been out for a while now, but with the movie version of Scott Pilgrim out on DVD now, we’re back to take a look at the final volume in the comic book series. I’m happy to say that Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour is very good, and it brings the series to a close in a very satisfying way. Yes, this is a great series that you owe it to yourself to read if you haven’t yet. It’s a modern classic that will hopefully get a whole new generation excited about comics.
Here is your official spoiler warning: I will be discussing events that happen not only in this volume, but any other volume in the series that I feel the need to reference. If you have not read Scott Pilgrim before, know that this is a very good series with a sense of humor deeply immersed in video game and music, but at its soul it is the story of two young people trying to make the switch from youthful lust into an adult relationship. The art borrows a lot from manga but is distinctly its own, and part of the joy is seeing writer/artist Bryan Lee O’Malley style evolve and mature over the course of all six volumes. It is very, very good and well worth your time and money. Okay, for the rest of you who have read the series, here are my thoughts.
After the events of Volume 5, Scott Pilgrim is at a very low point. The love of his life, Ramona Flowers has left him, and he has spent the last few months doing nothing except for playing video games. His best friend, Wallace Wells, is sick of seeing him sit on the couch but does not have any good advice on how to get his life together. But since this is the last volume, Scott has to get his life together and get on with his show down with the ultimate evil ex, Gideon Graves. And show down there is, and resolution, and many good moments for all the major players in the series.
There are plenty of great moments in this volume, some that may be my favorite in the series. I don’t know what it is, but the moment when Scott’s friend Young Neil meets Scott’s sister Stacey brings me a great deal of joy. It’s a moment that is very quick and doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of the overall story, but it’s indicative of the fun that can be had in reading this book. Of course the real meat of the story is found in the resolution of the romance between Scott and Ramona, and I’m enough of a romantic sap at heart to be very satisfied with it. I did have a few issues with the final confrontation, in that I think it got a bit too surreal for my taste, and I think the reliance of O’Malley to fall back on manga tropes does not serve his story here. The last half of the book should resound with emotional resonance, but he undercuts the emotional moments by having Scott and Ramona fight a giant demon version of Gideon. This whole section felt to me like unneeded pages and it kept me away from the moments I really wanted to see.
O’Malley’s art continues to evolve in this book as he experiments with splash pages to punctuate key moments in the book. There are several completely blank pages in the book, but they are perfectly used to accentuate the moment. At this point he is not just borrowing from other manga, he has created his own style and he has mastered how to manipulate the reader’s emotions. You can tell that he is confident at this point in the series when it comes to showing the characters emotions, as exaggerated as they are. The exaggeration is part of the style of the book and when he draws a beatific smile on someone’s face, you can’t help but smile as well.
This is a very fitting send off to the series, and while I will be sad to not see these characters anymore (presumably, maybe we’ll see a cool spin-off at some point), I’m looking forward to seeing what O’Malley does next. He has sent us on a terrific ride, and it’s a credit to him that so many readers have come to identify with his characters. The reason so many of us identify with the book is that we know a Scott, or a Ramona (hell, some of us are a Scott Pilgrim). It’s the connection with the characters that lets the reader accept the goofy sword fights and other more jokey aspects of the book.
This volume gets a 5 out of 5 from me. Fans of the Scott Pilgrim will find this to be a fitting end for the series.