Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6 "Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour" Rocks Ultimate

The wait is over, Scottaholics.

"Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6 Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour", the last hit in the 6-hit ultra combo that is the "Scott Pilgrim" series finally hit shelves last week (July 20, 2010). And, just like the final blow of any awesome ultra combo, "Finest Hour" delivers a slow-motion knockout that will blow minds and drop jaws.

Any self-respecting Scott Pilgrim die-hard has already either bought and read this book or is desperately waiting for their local comic shop to get more copies. I've spent a week with this book and have read it at least five times all the way through.

Seriously, this book is the definition of epic conclusion.

Bryan Lee O'Malley achieve's something that's frightfully rare in modern entertainment: he delivers a truly satisfying ending that gives readers closure. Not only does “Finest Hour” provide fans with an incredible finale to the series, it answers nearly all the lingering questions present throughout the series while still dropping some high-powered surprise bombs along the way.

For the readers who don't know, "Scott Pilgrim" is the story of Scott Pilgrim's quest to win the love of Ramona Flowers. However, to do that, Scott must defeat all seven of Ramona's evil ex-boyfriends. The first volume in the series, "Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life", was released in 2004 and is probably on sale due to the new volume being released. (Translation: Go buy it!)

"Finest Hour" picks up a few months after the end of Vol. 5 (Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe). Scott’s defeated six of Ramona’s seven ex-boyfriends leaving only Gideon Graves between him and the girl of his dreams. However, Ramona has vanished and hasn't been seen in months. Scott’s world has crumbled around him, and all he is doing is lying in the rubble—playing video games—waiting for Ramona to come back. Scott's left with a choice: move on and forget Ramona or face Gideon and finish what he started.

The story in “Finest Hour” definitely hits a few more serious notes than previous volumes. The growth and maturation of the series’ key characters are a primary focus here. Granted, since this is a "Scott Pilgrim" book after all, character growth literally involves battling one's repressed memories and emotions.

Throughout the "Scott Pilgrim" series O'Malley has demonstrated his gift for injecting light-hearted elements into moments that would typically be melodramatic or overly serious in other series. "Finest Hour" shows just how much O'Malley has perfected this talent. For example, when a villain lands a critical strike on Scott Pilgrim, a blocky, 8-bit styled comment shouting “What a dick!” is sprawled across the panel. In another instance, a serious conversation between Scott and Wallace ends with "and then Wallace bought Scott sushi."

O'Malley's other trademark, fun touches are present as well. Character dialog retains it's distinctly natural feel in contrast to the insanity of the "Scott Pilgrim" story. Also, Scott's friends and random-onlookers continue to act like people sword fighting at concerts and shooting fireballs at each are every day occurrences; people are rarely phased. Characters are more likely to comment on Ramona’s outfit, hair, and hotness rather than the fact she’s swinging a giant hammer at someone’s head.

It's those types of charming and slightly silly stylistic choices that exemplify what the "Scott Pilgrim" series is all about. And, "Finest Hour" is the epitome of everything "Scott Pilgrim." It possesses all the endearing quirks and personality that fans of the series have grown to love, but still manages to push the series to new limits. "Finest Hour" is a true testament to O’Malley’s creative talents and his growth as an artist.

Artistically, O’Malley has matured alongside Scott and his friends. O’Malley’s art style still holds the same manga-inspired feel set at the beginning of the series. And, he has consistently demonstrated a talent for depicting strong character emotions with deceptively little detail. However, O’Malley’s art is more pronounced now since the start of “Scott Pilgrim”; everything pops a little more. Characters and actions are bolder, and a few more intricate details are present in scenery. "Finest Hour" has O'Malley illustrating some pretty crazy stuff such as a character depicted as a god-like demon, cryogenic machinery, and an over-the-top stage show. O'Malley is able to draw all of these elements with a confidence that was still being developed in earlier volumes.

It's strange and a little a sad knowing that "Finest Hour" marks the end of the "Scott Pilgrim" saga. The series' first entry was released in 2004; however, I didn't start reading "Scott Pilgrim" until spring of last year. The classic video game in-jokes, the charmingly simple art style, and the frenetic fight sequences that lured me deeper into the series are still fresh in my mind. It's truly impressive how much the Scott Pilgrim series has grown and changed during it's lifespan. "Finest Hour" is an incredible ending to an incredible series. And though it may be the end of Scott Pilgrim's story, it's merely the end of a chapter in O'Malley's story.

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