Warning: This review ABSOLUTELY contains spoilers for both the film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and the entire Scott Pilgrim comic book saga.
The final volume in the Scott Pilgrim saga, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour is the book we’ve all been waiting for! It has been months since Ramona disappeared from Scott’s life without a word, and Scott is recovering via video game therapy. But he’s getting lazy and doesn’t seem to care that the inevitable showdown between him and Gideon Graves is rapidly approaching!
After some brief interactions with Knives and Envy, Wallace insists that Scott take a wilderness sabatical in an effort to get Scott back into shape. Scott travels to Kim’s parents’ home in the forests up north and in between sessions of training and meditation, Scott and Kim talk about their relationship. Kim points out things that Scott has completely forgotten about, such as the fact that Scott never told Kim he was going to be leaving for Toronto and she had to find out from their friend Lisa Miller. As the memories flood back, Scott’s head begins to glow and Scott’s bizarro alter-ego NEGASCOTT appears! Scott and NegaScott immediately engage in a fight, but when Scott remembers Ramona, NegaScott merges with him and Scott suddenly remembers all the bad things he has done. Now determined to win back Ramona, Scott returns to Toronto and arrives at the Chaos Theatre, where Envy is making her solo debut. Scott challenges Gideon and the two of them begin to fight, but during the fight Gideon steals Scott’s flaming katana of love and stabs him through the heart! As Scott lies dying, he suddenly finds himself in subspace with Ramona, who tells him that he has died. She apologizes for leaving and kisses him, when Scott’s extra life (obtained during his fight with Todd Ingram) activates and he and Ramona burst back into being in the Chaos Theatre. Scott, Ramona and Gideon engage in a giant battle that is nothing short of epic, diving in and out of subspace. During the conflict we find out that Gideon has been keeping a collection of ex-girlfriends cryogenically frozen and that he wishes Ramona to join them. We also learn that the League of Evil Exes was created through a drunken Craiglist posting that Gideon made after his breakup with Ramona. Ramona gains her own Power of Love sword, and Scott obtains a Power of Understanding sword, and the two of them finally defeat Gideon Graves. As the book draws to a close, Stephen Stills comes out of the closet and reveals that he and Kim’s former roommate Joseph have become a couple, Scott and Kim found a new band, and Knives says goodbye to Scott before she leaves for college. Scott and Ramona walk into subspace together, finally happy together.
Since this is the concluding chapter in the story of Scott and Ramona, Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour consists basically of plot twists, a giant fight, and the resolutions of character arcs. The buildup to the big fight, wherein Scott visits with Kim to train in the wilderness and fights NegaScott, reveals that much of what we thought we knew about Scott has been wrong. With that revelation comes the realization that Scott has been fooling himself into believing that he was the hero and the victim in every relationship he has ever been in, which simply isn’t true. It’s a dark moment in the series because we essentially discover that our hero is his own worst enemy – here embodied by NegaScott. It’s another great example of how the Scott Pilgrim books portray characters’ internal struggles in a visual, external way. Just as Scott actually has to physically battle with Ramona’s exes, so too does he battle with his own personal demons.
Scott’s return to Toronto from the wilderness is another great moment in this issue. I don’t actually have much to say about it, except that Bryan Lee O’Malley has done a great job of executing that common story trope whereby the protagonist leaves to find himself and returns home a new man. I really dig the picture of Scott riding the top of a Greyhound bus along the highway.
The showdown at the Chaos Theatre is the most wild fight of the entire series. Gideon is a powerful opponent, and so very, very evil with his collection of frozen conquests. O’Malley really has saved the best for last, and not a panel is wasted. The touch of having Scott die, only to be reincarnated (in part because of his extra life, in part because of Ramona’s love) is a cheer-worthy moment, because for the first time Scott and Ramona are genuinely fighting side by side for their relationship. Ramona’s obtaining the Power of Love sword is a very empowering scene, and shows that throughout the comics she has been going through the same emotional journey as Scott, we just haven’t been privy to it because of her secretive nature.
The final character moments in this issue do an excellent job of providing closure. Every character that you have grown to love gets a resolution. Knives Chau and Stephen Stills, in particular, have sweet little conclusions to their stories, with Knives having finally grown up a bit and gotten over Scott, and Stephen coming out as gay. The Stephen Stills twist was one I didn’t see coming at all, but it works and somehow doesn’t come as a big surprise. It’s also very, very satisfying to see Ramona and Scott run off into subspace together.
Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour is the perfect conclusion to what I consider to be one of the best comic series ever created. From the energetic, Westernized-anime art style to the lovable characters to the amazing fights to the pop culture references, Scott Pilgrim is a hero unlike any other. He’s both the ultimate loser and the ultimate winner, and I think any guy who grew up during the 80s will find something of Scott in themselves. Bryan Lee O’Malley has truly created a hero for our times.
5 out of 5