Thursday, July 22, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour

by Bryan Lee O'Malley

I don't think there's ever been a comics series quite like Scott Pilgrim.  Bryan Lee O'Malley's story blends so many genres - the plot is really a romantic comedy/kung fu action/science fiction/coming of age/screwball, with roots in anime, comics, and video games, not to mention indie rock.  Reading over that description, it sounds like it should be an absolute mess, but instead, it's brilliant, and works on every level.

Scott has been working his way through fighting the 7 Evil Exes of his new girlfriend Ramona Flowers, and has only one left to battle - Gideon Graves, the most powerful and insidious of them all.  The problem is that Ramona has left, and Scott is even more lost than usual.  He's not coping with her absence, and is instead making a pest of himself for all the other women that have been in his life.  It's not until he finally faces Gideon that things start to improve, except that Gideon is a powerful foe, who owns a new nightclub at the corner of Bathurst and Queen.

The demands of plot meant that this volume has a little more going on in it than the previous five, leaving less time for some of the more charming character moments that this series is based on.  They're still there, it's just that they didn't seem as frequent, especially in the latter half of the book.  It is the supporting cast, and their exasperated way of dealing with Scott, that makes me love this series.

Another thing that I find I get a lot of pleasure out of is the way in which O'Malley portrays Toronto.  I love my city, and it looks great in this comic. I love recognizing where scenes are taking place, even when they aren't labeled (like when Scott and Wallace are shopping at Pages, an excellent and much-missed bookstore that closed down this year).  The sense of place is strong in this book, and it gives the characters a grounding that I sometimes find missing in comics where the scenery is treated as generic.

Scott Pilgrim is probably going to be attracting more and more attention over the next couple of months, leading up to the release of the movie, and this attention is richly deserved.  When I started reading the title (after the third volume was released - I know I came to it late), I never would have expected that it would become the type of book that would have midnight sales drawing in thousands of people (I'm sure that the Beguiling - my comic store - was the only store to get that type of turnout, but it's amazing still).

It's a credit to O'Malley that in the face of so much attention and expectation, he stayed true to his artistic vision, and has completed a truly historical comics series.  If you've never read Scott Pilgrim, go get the first book right now.

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