Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour – Two Spoiler Free Reviews

It's finally here. Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim's Final Hour finally makes its way to comic book stores and the saga of Scott Pilgrim, everyone's favorite slacker from Toronto, finally comes to an end.

It seems like only yesterday that word began to spread like wildfire in the comic book industry about a book called Scott Pilgrim Vol. 1: Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, and little did we know then that one of the, if not the, most important comic books of the last ten years had been unleashed on the unsuspecting comic book world.

The only people more upset about the series ending than the fans are the comic shop owners.

If there's one person who's having a finer hour than Scott Pilgrim, it's the man behind the slacker, writer/artist Bryan Lee O'Malley. Not only has his celebrated series come to an end, but the film adaptation of the entire saga is just weeks away. It explodes into theaters August 13, 2010.

When iFanboy was presented with the opportunity to get an advanced look at Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour, we jumped at the opportunity to read it and report back to you about it.  We promise to not reveal any spoilers or details of the plot, not that we'd want to ruin your fun anyway.

With that said, both Ron and I have read Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour and we now present our individual, spoiler free reviews.  Here we go.

Conor Kilpatrick's Review of Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour

Endings are hard.

Really, really hard. Endings are especially hard when great success has been achieved prior to that ending. There are so many expectations to be met and when you are dealing with a series of books that have only gotten better and more critically acclaimed with each subsequent release. The pressure on the final volume is enormous.

Reviewing each of the first five volumes of Scott Pilgrim has been easy, to tell you the truth. Each volume has been fantastic. Each volume was the best thing that I read that week, and in most cases, the best thing that I had read in a long time. And each successive volume grew in artistic achievement just as the characters in the book’s lives grew more mature and complex.

So it’s with a heavy heart that I must confess that I would be less than honest if I said that Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour kept the streak alive of each volume being better than the last. Scott Pilgrim Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe was just about perfect, and as it stands now, it’s the high water mark of the series.

As I said before, up until now reviewing the Scott Pilgrim books has been really easy. Each volume left me feeling absolute comic book euphoria. And when you're filled with euphoria for something it's easy to gush to everyone else about it because there are no gray areas. Right now, having finished Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour all I’m left with is conflicting emotions, which began very early on in my reading and still haven’t gone away hours after I finished, and gray areas.

I thought Scott Pilgrim Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe was just about perfect. It was a tour de force that examined what happens when you actually get your dream girl and reality isn’t a exciting as chasing that dream. It pushed the video game elements into the background and examined relationships with a shocking amount of depth and with the precision of a surgeon. In the same way that it’s almost a certainty that’ll I’ll be let down by the Batman film that follows up The Dark Knight, it was probably inevitable that I was going to be a bit letdown by Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour. That’s how high of a regard that I held Scott Pilgrim Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe.

This is a good time to point out that Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour is by no means bad. It is everything fans of the series have come to expect:
 

  • It’s laugh out loud funny throughout the entire book. One of the hallmarks of the series has been the comedy and it’s in full force in Vol. 6. My favorite bits in this one being when the captions would talk to the reader and comment on the action.
  • We’ve grown to know and love these characters over the years and that makes their antics all the more heartfelt and resonant. 
  • As we’ve seen with each new volume, writer/artist Bryan Lee O’Malley’s skill as an artist as grown by leaps and bounds. Look at this volume and then compare the art and scene construction to the first and it’s readily apparent how much better O’Malley has gotten as a cartoonist, and he was pretty great to begin with.


So why was I let down?

I suppose it was inevitable that after such an action free chapter like Vol. 5, one that focused on the intense interpersonal relationships, that we’d get a finale that is chock full of video game-infused action as Scott confronts the final of Ramona’s evil exes. I understand why and from a construction stand point it makes perfect sense, I just found myself missing the character insight from the previous volume. Also, I thought that a lot of the issues that were raised between certain characters in Vol. 5 were resolved just a bit too neatly and too quickly here (or not at all). It was as if all of the angst and strife that was exposed in the last volume didn’t happen.

I feel like I need to stress this again: I like Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour a lot. It’s a good final chapter in the most important comic book series of the last ten years. There’s a lot of great stuff in here and if you love the series you will probably really enjoy this one too. I’m going to try to make some time to sit down and read all six volumes in one go to see how the story flow from beginning to end and I suspect that when I’m done with that I’ll probably have a better feeling about things.

For the last few hours I’ve had a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach and I haven’t been able to figure out why until right now. I’m torn up with guilt because I just can’t give this book five stars. I liked it quite a bit but I didn’t love it like I did the previous volumes and I feel bad about that.

Only with a series as fantastic and important as Scott Pilgrim can a four star book be considered something of a disappointment. To me that's the highest compliment that can be paid to Bryan Lee O'Malley and this wonderful series.

Rating: Story – 3.5 stars (out of 5) / Art – 5 stars (out of 5) / Overall – 4 stars (out of 5)

Ron Richards's Review of Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour

I feel like the story of this first decade of media is around endings.  The  end of The Sopranos, the end of Lost, the end of Y: The Last Man and now, the end of Scott Pilgrim.  Going into reading Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour, I was filled with tons of emotion and really tried to limit my expectations.  As I've gotten older, I've gotten much more relaxed about my stories, opting to enjoy the ride more than worrying about getting something spoiled or freaking out about the ending.  Who am I to question the creation of someone else? I'm just lucky to be able to enjoy the ride. So I tried to take that approach when opening up the first pages of Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour.

Before I get into the actual story aspects of the book, I want to reverse things around and highlight the art.  To me, one of the underrated stories of the past 7 years of Scott Pilgrim has been the progression of Bryan Lee O'Malley as an artist.  In what started out as a quirky and simple manga style has developed into a showcase of elegance and execution.  O'Malley's art has jumped leaps and bounds from volume 1 to volume 6, in terms of both his craft and his storytelling ability.  It seems as what was a random collection of big eyes and minimized facial details have now become the subtle ways that O'Malley can control both emotion and story developments.  Sure there are some great big action sequences with single and double page splash pages, but for me, it was the quiet moments with the characters, where a revealing conversation is had or a shared emotion occurs and I just absolutely marveled at how O'Malley was able to hone his craft over six volumes to the point where the visual language worked in harmony with the dialogue for a total complete package.  Visually, this was a joy to take in and I've just reveled in the development of a storyteller like Bryan Lee O'Malley.

Now that I've gushed about the art, let's talk about the story.  Much like the other hotly anticipated endings in our media world in the past 10 years, the ending to Scott Pilgrim is something that many have been dying to read and I imagine have built up some preconceived notions about. Again, as I said above, I did my best to drop all my baggage at the front cover and just read the work and take it for what it is.

The day I finished reading Volume 6, I told a friend that I had read the ending to Scott Pilgrim.  He asked, "How did it end?"  and I really had to think about my answer.  After a few moments to ponder, I said with quiet resolve, "It ended.  It's over.  It ended the way it had to, and you know, I'm alright with that.  Did it change my life? No.  Is it the most important comic book ever? Probably not.  But did I enjoy it all the way through? Absolutely."  And that's pretty much how I feel about Volume 6 of Scott Pilgrim.

In my review of Volume 5, I applauded Bryan Lee O'Malley for taking a dark turn, going as far as to liken it to the Empire Strikes Back of the series.  If I'm going to carry that simile through, then could I say that this is the Return of the Jedi of Scott Pilgrim? Absolutely.  Within this last volume, we got some revelations amongst key characters.  There was some stunning action sequences, and ultimately, it ended the only way it could.

But much like Return of the Jedi and Empire Strikes Back, I don't think this was as strong as it's predecessor.  As I read through the book, I couldn't help but to get the feeling of hurriedness, that we were rushing to the resolution and the end of the book.  It's with that hurriedness that brought about a forced feeling for some scenes with characters that seemed to be happening because they had to and not because they were happening naturally.  Also, ultimately some of the explanations as to what was happening to some of the major characters didn't quite make sense all the way through. I'm doing my best to avoid spoilers here people, so bare with me, but some of the specifics of the last major climatic scene left me scratching my head and ultimately shaking it off, reminding myself to just go with it. 

I couldn't help but find myself reminiscing to the origins of Scott Pilgrim and Volume 1, and the magic that occurred when reading that for the first time.  It helped that there were subtle callbacks to that first volume, such as the climatic scene's setting in a nightclub, similar to the first conflict of Volume 1.  Part of the magic that I felt when reading Volume 1 was the uniqueness and inventiveness of it all, and I still felt that.  The clever dialogue and jokes impressed me back then, and I have to admit that O'Malley's unique point of view on the world has only fueled more laughs in this volume.  As I read Volume 6 on mass transit here in San Francisco, I found myself laughing out loud numerous times, not even at the main dialogue rather the asides and throwaway lines that just filled the page with even more character within this weird world of Scott Pilgrim that O'Malley has sucked us all into.
 

Ultimately Scott Pilgrim is a two-fold story. It's a story of love and it's a story about growing up.  Two concepts that are both extremely difficult for anyone to deal with, in real life or in fiction.  Dealing with love and maturity is filled with bumps and mistakes and regrets.  That's one of the aspects of Scott Pilgrim that I ended up enjoying the most.  That even throughout the video game wackiness, the real obstacles were as human as they come.  Being completely honest with another person, letting some part of your past go, and eventually embracing the future and the responsibility that comes with it.  On paper, that all sounds boring, but O'Malley was able to take the concepts of love and growing up and intertwine them into one another in a way that kept me on my seat throughout the entire final volume.  While I saw the ending coming a mile away, I still gripped onto the book, for fear that it wouldn't turn out how I had hoped.  But then again, this is Scott Pilgrim's finest hour, isn't it?

So how do I feel about Scott Pilgrim Volume 6: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour?  It concludes a series that I've loved for the better part of the past decade.  It was a tale of love, romance and growing up and I think that ultimately Bryan Lee O'Malley successfully got the series across the finish line to a conclusion that I feel satisfied with.  It didn't send me into the streets screaming, nor did it shock and surprise me.  It ended the only way I could see it ending, with a grace and elegance that made me smile.  I wasn't disappointed and yet I wasn't overly enthused.  It just…ended.  Now of course I have my own nitpicks, like the clarity around some of the more out there concepts and some scenes that felt sped up to get us to the next plot point.  Despite those concerns, I still firmly believe that Scott Pilgrim is one of the most important works of this past decade, and our generation, as it captures a time period and a subculture so accurately.  With this concluding chapter, I would confidently recommend the entire saga to anyone to read to enjoy the insanity, fun, sappy romance and ultimately a satisfying ending.

Rating: Story – 4.5 stars (out of 5) / Art – 5 stars (out of 5) / Overall – 4.5 stars (out of 5)


 



Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour comes to most comic book stores July 21, 2010. You can also order it now from Amazon.

There are a ton of comic book shops across the United States and Canada who are having Scott Pilgrim events today (or last night) and have the book available for purchase a day early. To find out if you have one of those shops near you click here.
 

Comments

  1. "It’s a good final chapter in the most important comic book series of the last ten years."

    I understand that this is your personal oppinion, but this is a VERY bold statement to make considering how many great comics have come out in this 10 year period. 

  2. @AstonishedMrsPryde: It’s not nearly the first time I’ve said it.

  3. @Conor: Just read this last night.  You’ve summed up my feelings on the book perfectly.  I"m curious, though, why you think this is the ost important comic series in the last ten years.  I’m not disagreeing with you, just curious what makes this more important than, say, Y The Last Man, Buffy Season Eight (I didn’t like it, but boy did it help create a lot of new comic book readers), Powers, or The Walking Dead.

  4. Nevermind.  That’s what I get for reading someone misquoting you, rather than reading it in the article.  "one of" is an important phrase, and it totally negates my question.

  5. @akamuu: I said it was the most important in my review, the "one of" phrase was in the introduction because I didn’t want to put words in Ron’s mouth since his views are represented here as well.

    I fly in 7 hours and my car comes in 4 so I don’t really have time to go in-depth, but I don’t know of any book that generates the kind of sales and excitement that SCOTT PILGRIM does. I dont’ know of anyone lining up outside of comic book stores to pick up POWERS (as great is it is) or WALKING DEAD (as great as it is). There are no midniught release parties all across the country when the newest volume of Y: THE LAST MAN was released (as great as it is). I’ve had more than one retailer describe the day a new SCOTT PILGRIM comes out as something akin to Christmas in their store.

    There are a lot of great comics that have come out in the last ten years, none have had the impact of SCOTT PILGRIM. Ron called it "the Harry Potter of comics once" and he’s totally right.

  6. I tried really hard to like Scott Pilgrim. Really! I swear. Maybe I’m just being an old jerk or something, but I find this book to be everything wrong with kids these days. The stupid video game like fights, the quirky lead girl, obnoxiousness being a character trait that is valued instead of frowned upon. This book is like the antithesis to Love and Rockets. Instead of great, real stories about people that I actually do think probably exist we are now left twenty years later with flashy absurd fight scenes and characters based upon style and looks for the myspace generation.

     

    I don’t know. I bought the first volume around the time it came out due to all the praise and I guess I was expecting something else. I haven’t read it since so maybe I should try it again but ugh.

     

  7. @Conor: Thanks.  The Harry Potter analogy sounds about right to me.  Have fun in San Diego. 

    @SirCox: This is  absolutely a book where quirkiness/obnoxiousness is the focus.  It’s really for the quirky girls, and the girls (and guys) who wish they were quirky.  There are a lot of Scott Pilgrim fans who come into the store with their (often poorly) dyed hair and a million, like, totally inappropriate coments that reveal their misunderstanding of, like, personal boundaries.  They think the whole video game part of the story is completely amazing.  And, at the surface, the series is just a bunch of flashy fight scenes interspered with angsty self-examination.

    But, if you do manage to make it through the series (and there’s no law that says you have to), you’ll see that the quirkiness is often a hinderance.  To me, a lot of Scott Pilgrim is about how the quirky kids grow up into less quirky, less-angsty adults.  It can seem very overwrought from an adult perspective, but the characters represent exactly the kind of people who tend to be overly dramatic.  If you want to clobber that sort of person every time they open their manga-sized mouths, then this book is never going to be for you.

  8. I’m sitting by my front door, hoping my copy from Amazon arrives today. I keep glancing out the window for the mailman, it’s a stressful time for me.

    I think one of the reasons that this series is so important is that it defies expectations of what a comic is, especially to casual comic book fans. While on the surface it’s big silly fun and action, what stays with readers is the character moments and relationships. While most people seem to assume comics are all about superpowers and big sci-fi concepts, this comic proves that there is more subtlety and heart to stories that can be told in the medium.

    Additionally, O’Malley uses the medium in creative ways, using a visual medium to show the story in a way no other medium can (in layouts, captions, different styles of cartooning, etc). To that end, I don’t think the medium has been used so innovatively in a storytelling sense since Watchmen. And if that doesn’t make it important I don’t know what does.

    (I should point out that doesn’t mean I think this story can’t be made into a film – it just needs to be told differently. This is why I am glad Edgar Wright is directing – he understands the visual storytelling of film so well, and from what I have seen he is telling the story in ways only film can.) 

  9. Bought mine at midtown and I finished reading on my subway ride back to queens. Then I re-read it again.  I agree that this volume is just ended. It’s a a bit disappointed because of the set up it has on volume 5. The plot definitely sped up a bit too fast. I still like the fighting and the video game stuff that’s going on. I still think Y: the last man no.1 on this decade and scott pilgrim is right behind it.But scott pilgrim brought a huge impact on graphic novel format and the appeal for casual comic fans. Hopefully, I can see more of the Scott pilgrim world in the future, but I doubt it will happen just like y: the last man. When it ends, it ends. No more sequels. I wonder what O’Malley will do next, his art definitely made a huge improvement from beginning to end. Is he going to do volumes base series again?

    This is a question for ifanboys. Do you guys think it would be better if they have a volume 7? So the plot wouldn’t feel so rushed?

     

  10. Man. Disapointed reviews of the final Scott Pilgrim volume. This day just went from bad to Chuck Austen.

    But nay, I shall reserve judgement/jubilation until I have the tome in my own grubby little mits! Though my car died this weeken I will walk, bike… CRAWL my way to the comic shop to complete this epic of epicness for myself! If your life had a face, I’d punch it in the balls!

  11. I am still waiting for my pre-order to arive at my doorstep so the suspense is KILLING ME!!! But thank u Conor & Ron for the honest & heartfelt reviews & I believe that it would be safe to say that u guys will update this review article with Spoilers after a while when pretty much everyone has read it. Also any chance of this being Book Of The Month for August?

  12. I’m just glad to hear some folks liked Volume 6.  I couldn’t imagine the finale would live up to the hype, they never do.  I’m just hoping for an entertaining read once my DCB package arrives the first week of August.  Until then I’ll have to avoid any spoilers, which for such a major book could be tricky.

  13. I wonder if the excitement generated by Scott Pilgrim was a mixture of accessibility and a collected as opposed monthly, schedule. The Harry Potter analogy is a good one; and while I realize not every book sells like Potter (young adult fantasy novel series or not), I wonder if the success of Scott Pilgrim could be looked at as yet another attempt by the medium to grow up.

  14. I’ll be picking up my copy sometime this week. In fairness, I don’t think there is any way possible for this volume to meet the expectations of the rabid fans I watched line up in front of my LCS last night. I have no evidence to prove this, but I feel as if Scott Pilgrim is important for many reasons. One of which is it’s cross over appeal. Iron Man may not have driven people into comic stores, but I bet Scott Pilgrim will. There are going to be a lot of little girls who go see the movie and run out to buy the books. Can’t wait to get my copy. 

  15. Really looking forward for this. I think a book like this – much like the Harry Potter series mentioned above – is so critic proof, it’s still going to do well.

  16. Went through hell in the Bay Area to get this.

    But hey, it was pretty damn good. O’Malley gives it the right ending but it’s the execution that’s lacking. The plotting didn’t feel as organic as previous books. But it doesn’t sully the series at all. So, cheers. 

  17. I don’t get the success of this book. The pop and video game references are amusing and it can occassionally be funny, but it entirely weighed down by a complete twat for a main character.

     

  18. PymSlap PymSlap (@alaska_nebraska) says:

    she-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-eT, i got drunk 2night & ordered the whole epic. Hope they’re in digest-size

  19. PymSlap PymSlap (@alaska_nebraska) says:

    heehee it looks like his balls are hanging out on the cover.. titter

  20. I liked it but it’s definitely not the strongest of the series. Can’t wait for the movie!

  21. I just finished reading it, it was very much an acceptable ending to the series. Although it did not meet my expectations & I do agree with you guys that it did feel very rushed, it did have some of those wonderful Scott Pilgrimesque moments in it that made me fall in love with the series. Now I am just wondering how faithful the movie will be with the 6th book b/c Idk how some of its content could translate with the film & keep it even in tone, aw well I guess we shall see come August.