Scott Pilgrim Vol. 6: Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour
Bryan Lee O’Malley, writer/artist
Oni, July 2010
Or: Scott Will Eat Itself. The gist of this final volume in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s worlds will live/worlds will die/comics will never be the same series is that it’s an extraordinarily bad idea to reduce the people in your life, even the people who used to be in your life, to stock roles in the beat-’em-up videogame or shonen manga you’ve mentally conceived your life to be. Not only is this cruel and reductive to them, not only will it cause them trouble to the extent that you’re still in their lives and forcing them into that role when you interact, it’s cruel and reductive to you yourself, since it traps you in the corresponding role as well.
I mean, I guess that’s the gist. I’ve always had a hard time connecting with Scott Pilgrim on the personal, emotional level a lot of its ardent admirers do, mostly, I think, because I’m a creep. As I put it when discussing Vol. 5:
There’s no doubt that I’m speaking from my own experience with my own emotional life, which for whatever reason I don’t experience as a lot of rock and roll fun with the occasional bummer mixed in, even if that is in fact a more objectively accurate view of what my life has been like. Maybe it’s just a preference thing, maybe I feel like darker material more accurately reflects what is important/lasting in life/art, I don’t know. I do know that I don’t see my life as a rollicking adventure, or more accurately, something that might be a rollicking adventure were the occasional metaphorical robot fight thrown in.
The long and the short of it, especially in a volume such as this, which wraps up an entire series’ worth of emotional arcs in the form a massive, bloody (!) swordfight, is that Scott and his friends are characters whose adventures I can enjoy even if I can’t personally really understand the thought process underneath them. Like, look, O’Malley’s art has never been better than it is in this volume, which is pretty much true every time–the climactic fight scene occupies about two-fifths of the book and has oomph galore, and I think O’Malley deserves some sort of special Eisner Award for the potential Envy Adams cosplay opportunities created here. And it’s difficult to overstate the subspace corridor opened in my head over these past few years by his overall mix-and-match aesthetic, from its non-traditional, designy use of captions and text to tell the story, to its no-explanations mix of romance and action, to his often laugh-out-loud funny dialogue and sense of timing, to most especially his incorporation of videogame tropes–just a vast reservoir of completely underutilized visual vocabulary and storytelling potential. So if, in the end, Scott Pilgrim isn’t my life, I sort of feel like the last thing Scott Pilgrim would want is for me to pretend that’s the role it played.