Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour
There’s something undeniably special about being with people who are united for one single purpose. Be it for whatever reason such as sports, a concert, a film or a convention, there’s a great energy to which everyone contributes. You feel a connection even though you’ve never met most of the people there. This feeling is what I experienced while waiting for Scott Pilgrim Volume 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour which was released at midnight on Monday night. The event took place at the Beguiling in downtown Toronto and included over 900 fans and the author himself, who was in attendance for a signing. The two hour wait in line was well worth the feeling of holding my copy of the book. As soon as I arrived home, I tore through the book and felt happy with a twinge of sadness to see my favourite series end.
Scott Pilgrim, created by fellow Torontonian Bryan Lee O’Malley, follows the title character on his quest to defeat his dream girl’s seven evil ex-boyfriends in order for him to happily date her. The sixth volume, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour, finds our hero stuck in a rut after Ramona, the dream girl, leaves him and he tries to muster up the courage and strength to fight the final ex and find Ramona.
I still can’t believe it’s already over. I can remember the first time I picked up Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, the first volume. As soon as I read the first page, I knew I was in love once I experienced the magic of Scott Pilgrim and I couldn’t stop until it was over. It has the perfect blend of comedy, video game and comics/manga infused action, and interpersonal relationship drama. In my eyes, Scott Pilgrim is the perfect comic because it has anything I ever want out of comics. It’s like Box Office Poison mixed with Street Fighter and a splash of manga style and sensibility. With the Scott Pilgrim film, directed by Edgar Wright, opening in about a month and the release of the new book, it’s a great time to be a Scott Pilgrim fan.
The final volume is great but it doesn’t quite reach the high bar set by the previous volumes. There is bound to be some disappointment with any ending because there is too much hype leading up to it. Before I get to the negatives, I want to start with all of the great stuff that’s packed in these pages.
Bryan Lee O’Malley’s artwork really is the star of this book. It is leaps and bounds better than the first volume. His skill has grown immensely since he first started. The sheer amount of detail on certain pages is astounding and it would not have been possible for O’Malley six years ago. His artwork and layouts were quirky, manga influenced and simple but now they’re complex, expressive and detailed. His layouts effortlessly draw your eye through the page while his figures have depth and dimension.
Change is a major theme in the last volume. Everything is different, the relationships, the characters and even O’Malley has changed as a writer and artist, all for the better. The characters have changed and matured as I have over the past few years. I’ve grown attached to them and seeing these final moments unfold feel even more profound. Scott and his supporting characters have grown into adults and moved on from their previous situation to advance further into adulthood as many of them have revelations throughout. O’Malley still manages to keep the story grounded even when a character is being put through extraordinary situations. It becomes rather easy to care for the characters when they’re in danger because they seem like real people. The stakes have also been raised exponentially and the book takes a dark turn at this point where it looks like a certain character may not prevail.
This book is still absolutely hilarious despite its darker tone. The balance of comedy and drama is flawless. While the dialogue is great, the asides from the author made me laugh the most. The memory cams where characters would recall false memories of their relationships with certain people were also fantastic. Besides the comedy, there are some inventive sequences, specifically a spectacular fight between Scott and Gideon, the final ex.
I did enjoy the book and I felt satisfied but I wasn’t overjoyed quite the same way as I was after reading the past five volumes. I feel weird that I found something wrong with a Scott Pilgrim book and it almost makes me a little bit sad. The problem is that the book feels like its racing to the conclusion. Most of the character revelations and interactions feel rushed and didn’t come about naturally as they should. They were just happening because it seemed like it was the right thing but it felt forced in certain cases.
The balance of relationship drama and action sequences was off kilter in favour of the latter for this book. The focus was placed on Scott’s final fight and didn’t allow for enough scenes where characters would just hang out and talk. The last volume placed the fighting and video game stuff into the background and brought the relationships into the foreground and made it feel like the book had matured. The primary focus of the action set piece in this book left me yearning for more relationship stuff. I very was happy to see a few quiet moments near the end of the book but it wasn’t enough. I really did enjoy the final volume and I felt mostly satisfied but it just didn’t leave me with the feeling of pure comics euphoria of the last volumes.
I would most definitely recommend the book and series to anyone who found any of what I mentioned intriguing because it really is a special coming of age tale that puts all others to shame. Scott Pilgrim is geared towards people in their late teens to their early thirties who grew up playing classic 8 bit and 16 bit video games. Even if you didn’t, anyone can relate to the emotional core of the story but it will especially appeal to video game fans. It represents video game culture elegantly while still creating realistic real life situations that could happen to anyone. Scott Pilgrim is one of the finest comic book series of all time and it’s the kind of story that only comes around every once in a while. You don’t want to miss it.