What is likely the most impressive accomplishment of Bryan Lee O’Malley in his now completed Scott Pilgrim series is not so much the great stories and strong artwork throughout the run, but the sheer uniqueness of the Scott Pilgrim character. He is such an impressively unusual character that stories that just would not work with any other character do work with him. As a result, you get bizarre yet amazing stories like Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour – an outlandish finale as only Scott Pilgrim could deliver.
As we all know by now, while the “main” plot of the Scott Pilgrim series has been Scott fighting the seven evil ex-boyfriends of his new girlfriend, Ramona Flowers, the real plot has just been the dramas of growing up in the 21st Century.
It’s something that Scott and all of his friends have to grapple with, and so does everyone else in the world, they just don’t see their problems escalate into over-the-top fight sequences with dazzling displays of sword-fighting and kung fu.
A reoccurring theme within Finest Hour is the idea of memory, or more specifically, dealing with your past.
O’Malley uses the following bit more than a few times in the book to show how good people can be at deluding themselves about their past (note: Scott runs into Knives Chau, the high school student he dated early in the series – she has now turned 18, and Scott, pressured by his friend, Wallace, into pursuing sex, has offered to have casual sex with her now that she has turned 18).
The memory cam is a good bit for a laugh, but it speaks directly to what I was saying about characters avoiding dealing with their past. This is even MORE explicitly stated later in the story when Scott gets into a brawl WITH his past, in the form of “Nega Scott,” who Scott figures if he defeats, he’ll never have to deal with his painful memories of Ramona leaving him at the end of Volume 5.
Meanwhile, in the return of Envy Adams, we see another side of dealing with one’s past. Envy has changed, certainly the most dramatically of any of Scott’s acquaintances/ex-girlfriends, and in her changes, she understands the painful/powerful realization that hits people in their 20s and their 30s (and so on and so forth), how there has been an entire journey in their life to get them to the point where they are today, but that journey is only clear to those who have known them the whole ways – to others, it is like that past self never existed. To Envy, then, Scott is a bit of an anchor to a past that she has moved past, but does not want to forget completely.
The “him,” by the way, is Gideon Graves, Ramona’s last (and most powerful) evil ex-boyfriend. Scott believes Ramona has gone to him when she left Scott, and really, since Ramona’s departure, the idea of having to fight Gideon seems so odd (as if she is not his girlfriend, why does he still have to fight her evil exes?), but Scott pushes past the oddness to win Ramona back – even as Gideon makes a bold offer to Scott.
Okay, I don’t think it’s right to talk about the plot after this – too many twists and turns, I don’t want to ruin it for anyone.
However, I can say that O’Malley manages to brilliantly mix together the previous notions of memory and not being able to separate yourself from your past (Gideon, in particular, has a REAL big problem with separating himself from his past girlfriends) along with the idea of not being able to get out of your own head. And really, at the end of the day, the biggest weight holding anyone down on the road to adulthood IS their own head – it just is rarely depicted in the fashion that it is in Scott Pilgrim (as literally being able to enter your, or someone else’s, head).
Both Scott and Ramona had to make some pretty heady (literally) discoveries of themselves to get us to the end of the story, but the journey there was filled with spectacle and whimsy that made it an extremely enjoyable tale to follow.
The aftermath of the final battle was a lot of fun, too.
All in all, this ended about as well as you could possibly expect the series to end (I mean, with so many great supporting characters, there’s always going to be, like, “Oh man, I wish there was more ___ in this book” but what can you do? That’s the price you pay with having so many great characters), and since expectations were so insanely high for this volume, it says a whole lot of O’Malley’s talent that he was able to pull it all off (let me give a quick shout out to his two assistants, John Kantz and Aaron Ancheta).
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