“Scott Pilgrim is the best book ever. It is the chronicle of our time. With Kung Fu, so yeah: perfect.”
–Joss Whedon (creator of the tv series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly).
I received the final book in the Scott Pilgrim series, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour (released July 20, 2010), a mere two hours ago. Devoting fifteen minutes to it, I blazed through the pages (240+) cover to cover, laughing, cringing and intrigued all the way. I closed it shut at the end, more than satisfied with the conclusion.
Bryan Lee O’ Malley has given the comic book/graphic novel universe a fine character in the form of Scott Pilgrim. His relationship troubles, geeky tendencies and overall desire to achieve greatness is something everybody can relate to.
If you are unfamiliar with the story of Scott Pilgrim, I will provide a bit of back story. Scott Pilgrim is a 23-year-old Canadian resident who serves as bass player in a band, Sex Bob-omb (one of many video game references to litter the series). He meets Knives Chau, a 17-year-old (yes) and the two begin dating. However, in time a mysterious girl starts invading Scott’s dreams, and he later comes to find out she actually exists. Her name is Ramona Flowers, and Scott begins to obsessively pursue her.
Scott begins to win the affection of Ramona, who he invites to hear his band play. As Sex Bob-Omb are jamming, a crash is heard by everyone in attendance, as a man flies down yelling “MR. PILGRIM!” He introduces himself as Matthew Patel, Ramona’s first evil ex-boyfriend. Scott and Matthew fight. As Scott later finds out, Matthew is the first of Ramona’s seven evil exes, which Scott must defeat in order to truly be happy with Ramona.
Knives, in the course of all this, is dumped, but she becomes a stand out character in a series of stand out characters.
The Scott Pilgrim series greatest strength is not the battles, or the video game references, but the characters. O’ Malley has created a mini universe of engaging and hilarious people. For instance, Wallace Wells, Scott’s gay roommate, provides constant comic relief, as well as a mentor for Scott’s continuing battle line up. While the fights of the series are engaging, it is the characters that are the most endearing.
In addition, O’Malley has provided some solid artwork. Except for a brief segment in volume 4, the whole series is in black and white, which is a reference to Manga, a form of Japanese comic. While I am not prone to reading Manga, O’ Malley clearly made the comic to appeal to non-Manga readers. He also creates great facial expressions and gives some panels tons of “Batman” sound effects as Scott fights for Ramona’s love.
If you have a knowledge of video games like I do, Scott Pilgrim is a must read. In fact, I would even go further to say that this a video game comic book. The sound effects, battles, and references would make any nerd giddy, as Scott Pilgrim name drops classics, like Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, and even gives shout outs to games with way less popularity. O’Malley even adds in hilarious video game font and titles for certain panels.
While Scott Pilgrim will never reach the status of some more well known comics, I would state without second thought that it is one of the best comic book series I have ever read. Scott Pilgrim is a relatable guy (except for all the battles) who dresses normal, likes video games, eats sushi, and has girl trouble. Also, each book is a quick read, and I have gone back time and time again to get absorbed in the world O’ Malley has created (my favorite is still Volume 4, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together) and pick up on the things I had missed.
As the series has closed with a solid sixth volume, many fans such as myself will look to the movie now, to see how it compares to the books. Leaving all comparison aside though, between an amazing final volume, and a movie arriving soon, there is no doubt about it; it is truly Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour.