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Get It Together! The Scott Pilgrim Chronicles - Part 6

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We’re arrive on a desolate landscape of Scott’s making. It’s a barren desert with the sun beating oppressively down on his face. Running towards her; winded and directionless but most notably, he’s alone. Running, faster and faster, until… WHAM!

Scott is obviously in the midst of an internal struggle with just a sprinkle of inner turmoil. Externally, though, it’s business (or lack thereof) as usual with video games, slacking and mooching. He’s reverted back to his most comfortable and stinted state of being. Wallace tries coaxing him to finish what he’s started, but to Scott’s defense, why should he? She left, remember? Why should he have to keep fighting when there’s nothing left to gain?

So begins volume six, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour, with a desperate whimper. Scott has never been a man of action, but more so, reaction. If there’s nothing taking him to the battle, then he often waits for it to come to him. In this epic journey he’s undertaking, there have been missteps and times when it would be very convenient for him to give up. When Ramona was beside him, though, he never took the easy road. Since she left, regression has set in slowly, much to the disappointment of everyone in his life.

After an encounter with Envy Adams, we begin to learn things about Scott that even he doesn’t remember. He’s been forgetful and aloof for so long that it’s never been questioned by the reader. If he’s unable to remember his mistakes, he will forever be doomed to repeat them. It adds a layer of sadness to this young man. You desperately want him to succeed, but something inside him is (literally) holding him back.

Wallace convinces Scott to visit Kim Pine up north and take a “wilderness sabbatical,” where he can prepare for the fight he doesn’t want to have with Gideon. With Kim, we see a desperate Scott, searching for answers. He finally begins to recognize that he may have a problem and something might fundamentally be wrong. Of course, this initial confusion causes him to make a pass at her. Messed up in the head or not, it’s still Scott.

He has to fight himself (Nega Scott or Bizarro Scott, if that’s more comfortable) in order to gain control of his past mistakes and eventual destiny. In a beautifully drawn collection of Ramona memories, Scott finally recalls what he’s fighting for and merges with Nega Scott. For a man to be complete, he has to own the good and the bad in order to grow. In this world, it happens quite literally. Scott finally claims his mistakes and is ready to learn.

It gets even headier from here, delving into tampering with memories, self destructive super powers, the reason people’s heads glow… all of it comes full circle and gets reconciled within the story. It’s a bold a fulfilling move, illustrating just how plotted out O’Malley had this collection of stories all along. There are still epic fights, nostalgic call-backs and video game references, but it’s underlined by a real sense of accomplishment and growth. Volume six chronicles the growth of the characters as well as O’Malley’s growth as an artist and storyteller.

I think it’s fair to admit that the first time I read volume six, I wasn’t sure what to think. I felt too close to the material and needed to really sit on this review. Do I like it because it’s good or because I really want it to be? I didn’t write a single word until a second read and a week later. More so than any other volume in the series, which is fitting, this book requires retrospection and revisiting of previous chapters. There is movement and resolution in plot developments that I wasn’t even aware needed to be addressed. Everything has had a purpose and direction, making the endeavor of reading Scott Pilgrim all the more satisfying.

What makes it even more impressive is that Bryan Lee O’Malley tricked us. Sure, these books have been more than just fun romps; they’ve been emotional, funny, poignant, nostalgic and surprisingly real in places. But to bring it all together in a way that turns all these elements into something introspective and even suggesting that things we believed true were actually machinations of the villain. Well done, Mr. O’Malley. Well done. Finest Hour sticks the landing with a giant exclamation point that I admittedly missed during the first read through.

The characters of Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers are decidedly different in the wrap up scenes of this book. Ramona speaks with compassion and emotion, something she previously would have hidden behind a wall of snarky mysticism. Scott responds to her with insightful and hopeful responses, normally blocked by a doofy demeanor. It never feels out of character, but it’s different from how they’ve been addressing each other throughout. To some degree, this is the first time they’ve met one another’s true selves.

It’s comparable to the morning after a first big fight with your significant other, when you show them every ugly part of you. The moments after resolution are humbling and cathartic. That’s what the last handful of pages in this sixth and final volume feel like. In a sea of novel and borderline gimmicky expression, the curtain is finally closed on these people in an emotionally true way.

I can’t think of a better or satisfying fit as they disappear into subspace.

Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour is available from Oni Press priced $11.99.

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