Well, we’ve come to the end of a long road here at First Panel. This is the review of the final volume of the Scott Pilgrim story, Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour.
I’ve actually been reading and enjoying this series since before I started this blog. It’s always kind of a big deal when you finish a long series that you love, and you know there’s just no more to come (at least until someone else buys the rights years from now and puts out a new book and completely ruins a perfectly good thing). But let’s not let that spoil our mood. Let’s just talk about Scott’s “finest hour”…
As far as the story goes, this is an interesting, and somehow fundamentally different chapter in the Scott Pilgrim canon. I think that is necessarily so, for several reasons:
Perhaps most obviously, this is of course the finale, and Bryan Lee O’Malley has the unenviable task of trying to wrap up the myriad story lines and dramas in a satisfactory fashion, and leave these characters we’ve come to love so much in an acceptable and comfortable place so that we can get on with our lives already.
But it’s also evident how much the Scott Pilgrim books have evolved over the years, as O’Malley has honed his genuinely unique style. It’s sorta like watching a master painter at the end of his life, when he’s already proven his skill and mastered his medium, and has let all obligation and pretense fall by the wayside, so that he’s just creating for the sheer joy of creation. That may be a somewhat grandiose analogy, but if you’ve been following this series from the start (and paying close attention), I think you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
So let’s talk about this volume. As could be expected (based on the ending of Volume 5), we find Scott rather lost at the start of this chapter: Ramona has mysteriously disappeared (with no explanation), and Scott has largely detached from the world around him and his wider circle of friends, into a safe little existence of video games on couches. Wallace and Stephen finally talk him into getting out of his dormer apartment, and that’s when the climactic events with the fabled Gideon are set into motion. Fortunately for Scott, (spoiler alert!) Ramona finally returns for that bloody (!!!) confrontation. And that’s all I’ll say about that. 🙂
Volume 6 also finds Scott reaching some closure with the other ladies in his life: Knives, Envy, and Kim. AND, last but not least, we are treated to a delightfully naughty surprise regarding one of our favorite characters, Mr. Stephen Stills! And that’s ALL I’ll say about that!
Lastly, I will be the first to admit that there may be a lot more going on beneath the surface of Volume 6 than I am fully grasping. O’ Malley is obviously a fan of metaphors, and he’s been using them all along – but in Vol. 6 they abound. Swords of power pulled from one’s chest, Gideon’s all-too-familiar logo (isn’t that from Zelda?), glowing heads, pyramids, stars, etc., etc., etc. I’ll just come out and confess that I’m simply too dumb to get the references, and too lazy to look them up. Perhaps one of my more literary readers can clue me into what it all means. 🙂
For my general feelings about Bryan Lee O’Malley’s artistic work on Scott Pilgrim, you should check out my earlier reviews of the Scott Pilgrim series, on Vol. 4 and Vol. 5. But here’s the Cliff’s notes: I like it!
So how about the differences between O’Malley’s previous Scott Pilgrim work and this final chapter? Much like his writing, O’Malley’s art has definitely evolved over the last few years.
I’ll offer one small example: in volume 6, he uses a lot more 8-bit video game text references than in any previous volume that I can remember. And that’s OK by me. It’s still as clever as ever, and it’s actually a major part of the charm of these books. In fact, the typography in general is creative and deliberate, and plays a big role in the telling of the story.
There are other, more subtle differences, but I’m not sure I can sufficiently describe or expound upon them, so I’ll suffice to say that the design of the Scott Pilgrim books has definitely reached its apex in Vol. 6, and it is truly a brilliant visual soup of gen-x-slacker-pop-culture references. If you know what a 1-up or a warp zone is, then you’re in on the joke, and the joke is funny…
It may (or may not) surprise you to hear that Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour is not my favorite chapter in the Scott Pilgrim series. Even more curious, I’m not sure exactly why that is. It could be that, after about a year of following Scott on his adventures, I was just kind of ready for it to be over. And if that is in fact the case, I must say that Bryan Lee O’Malley ended it at just the right time. This series really was just long enough. It felt full, and epic, and complete, but yet not too long. And, without a doubt, Vol. 6 is a fine, fitting, satisfying, and frankly beautiful ending to this incredible saga.
That being said – if I may be so bold – I think Bryan Lee O’Malley in Scott Pilgrim has succeeded in altering the landscape of modern graphic novels. Scott Pilgrim has its finger on the pulse of youth culture more accurately than any other comic i’ve read so far, and I’ve no doubt that it’s helped introduce a whole new generation to this art form. It’s really no surprise that it’s been as popular and successful as it is – even resulting in a major motion picture, which I’ll finally be watching in the next few days and filling you in on my opinion right here on this site. 🙂
So long, LONG story short, I’m giving Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour an 8/10. However, if I had to rate the series as a whole, I’d give it a 9/10, easily.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to place Bryan Lee O’Malley in the league of such comic greats as Alan Moore, Jeff Smith, Brian K. Vaughan, etc. He has truly wrought a work of comic genius here, and it should be recognized as such. I, for one, will be checking out his other acclaimed work, “Lost at Sea”, and whatever else he sees fit to bestow up his adoring public.
So, today I say this with added gravitas: do yourself a favor and fall in love with Scott Pilgrim. And when you do, happy reading!