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: Scott Pilgrim
(Click to go to the release post)Writer(s)
: Bryan Lee O’Malley
(Click to see other books from this writer released on this site)Review source
: CHARLES YU
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) " Reading “Scott Pilgrim” is like watching your (funny, immature) slacker friend play a video game in which the objective is to attain emotional maturity"Review
: SCOTT PILGRIM, VOL. 6 - Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour
Reading “Scott Pilgrim” is like watching your (funny, immature) slacker friend play a video game in which the objective is to attain emotional maturity. Specifically, if “Scott Pilgrim” were a video game, it would be an open-world “sandbox” game, in which messing around in the fictional world is not only more fun than properly playing the game — it’s kind of the whole point. The Canadian cartoonist Bryan Lee O’Malley, creator of the “Scott Pilgrim” juggernaut, has been romping around in this sandbox, testing the limits of his comics environment, for six years, and with Volume 6, “Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour,” he brings the series to a close.More info
Before we get to the latest entry, some back story. The series, set in a Toronto populated with 20-something indie-hipster geeks, opens with Scott kind-of-but-not-really dating the 17-year-old Knives Chau (who admits to being so young that she “didn’t even know there was good music until like two months ago”). It’s a short-lived affair that ends essentially the instant Scott lays eyes on the mysterious Ramona Flowers, who Rollerblades through one of his dreams. Awkward dialogue ensues:
Scott: “Can we go out sometime? Or, I mean . . . I mean . . . there are . . . reasons for you to hang out with me?”
Ramona: “You’re all over the place.”
Scott: “But I’m so sincere!”
It’s not that easy, however. As this is a comic governed by game-world logic, it’s understood that before Scott can date Ramona, he must defeat seven of her evil exes (six ex-boyfriends and one ex-girlfriend), while dealing with the baggage of a few exes of his own and playing with his friends, Stephen Stills and Kim Pine, in a band that, despite its awesome name — Sex Bob-omb — is in fact not so awesome at all.
The comic, drawn in a manga-inflected style, calls to mind Rumiko Takahashi’s exuberantly weird “Ranma 1/2” series. Over time, O’Malley has refined his technique (pages and panels are less cluttered, and the characters, while simply drawn, have become more expressive), but the overall look has remained largely unchanged. Witty, self-aware dialogue and acute observational humor wink from the pages, and the result is an appealing, lighthearted account of a transitional period of life. O’Malley portrays a slice (although perhaps a thin one) of a generation attempting to grow up. And none of his characters need to grow up more than Scott Pilgrim, who seems stuck in that ever expanding territory between the formerly contiguous states of adolescence and adulthood.
To talk about “Scott Pilgrim” this way, though, is like trying to explain the appeal of a video game by describing the software code that renders the physics of the imaginary world. The code is the conceptual basis for why it all works, but it is at the surface level where the magic happens, those fizzy, sensory delights that make the gaming experience fun.
The comic, like a good game, is partly about storytelling, but it’s also about the small pleasures of game-play, those constituent units of hedonic currency that any gamer viscerally understands, like the feel and timing of pulling off the Shoryuken move in Street Fighter, or the sound of Mario’s fist exploding a brick in the Nintendo classic Super Mario Bros. In the “Scott Pilgrim” comics, the unit of pleasure, the pellet that keeps you reading, is the sly aside, the mumbled afterthought, the bits of knowing, self-conscious meta-commentary sprinkled throughout. Pleasure comes, too, in the form of worthwhile diversions (a recipe for vegan shepherd’s pie, chords that show you how to play along with a Sex Bob-omb song) and an abundance of zingers, usually aimed at Scott. (Kim Pine: “Scott, if your life had a face, I would punch it. I would punch your life in the face.”)
By the beginning of “Finest Hour,” things are looking grim for our hero. The preceding book, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe,” began moving the series in a darker direction. Even the title of that volume, which plays off the title of an earlier installment, “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” suggests a widening of perspective, a progression from an “us vs. the world” mentality — plucky, naïve, hopeful — to a “me vs. the universe” mentality, in which one begins to realize that the opponent is a cold, indifferent cosmos. In “Finest Hour,” the band has broken up, Kim has moved back in with her parents, and Ramona has literally disappeared into thin air. Even Knives Chau, the formerly under-age stalker of Scott, is now of legal majority and moving on with her life.
Increasingly, we see glimpses around the edges of Scott’s point of view, hints of how the story line has looked to everyone who is not Scott. The “secondary characters” of his life, as he refers to them, start to chafe at their protagonist. In an emotional scene, one of Scott’s exes calls him out for his self-dramatizing, confabulatory way of moving through the world.
With all the tying up of plot lines, Volume 6 is more action-packed than the previous books, with much more ka-blam and ka-pow, both physical and emotional. But we see fewer of the pleasing quotidian interludes (grocery shopping, lazy afternoons at greasy diners) in which “Scott Pilgrim” is often at its cleverest. At times, the inclusive sensibility of the series can also be a little too inclusive, when its idiosyncrasies, usually enjoyable and surprising, tip slightly out of balance and verge into trivia. But these are complaints at the margins of frames that are, for the most part, packed with sharp, engaging detail.
Near the beginning of “Finest Hour,” Scott, playing a hand-held video game, says to his roommate: “All right, go away. I have a tiny world to save.” It’s a small, brilliant moment that compresses and heightens all that has come before, setting the stage for this climactic chapter, this satisfying final boss stage capping off a humor-filled adventure trek through an immersive and engrossing world. Think of it as “G.T.A. Toronto: Grand Theft Adulthood.”
Written and illustrated by Bryan Lee O’MalleyPublisher
|Post rewarded by Ojay on Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:59 am.
|Very Nice Review. 5 wrz$ reward. Thanks Zach!