In three weeks, either your comic book nerdlet friend, twee-as-fuck boyfriend or the beguiling charms of Michael Cera will force you to see “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” And it will be glorious, and everyone will talk about how Cera broke out of his typecast role, how director Edgar Wright is god’s gift to geeks and how everyone wants Scott Pilgrim’s precious little life.
But why wait? For the third topic, I mean. ‘Cause if you want to jump on the bandwagon and have the street cred for the inevitable conversations, then picking up “Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour,” the sixth and final volume in Bryan Lee O’Malley’s landmark comic series, is probably the best way to feign the sexy confidence of a comics connoisseur and make the jean shorts drop.
Of course, checking out the first five volumes is advised. For the stubborn: Scott Pilgrim lives in Toronto, is obsessed with video games/music and dates an American girl with a shadowy past. Nothing too spectacular, except that Scott must fight and defeat this Ramona character’s seven evil exes.
“Finest Hour” picks up where the fifth book left off: Scott trying to figure out why Ramona left with only one more ex-boyfriend to defeat. Typically, Scott is staving off any excess anguish by playing PSP. On the advice of his roommate – “get laid and forget her” – Scott strikes out on the whole casual sex bit, crawling back to old girlfriends. But these pathetic attempts give the failed Lothario some perspective and ultimately the cajones to confront the “final boss,” while recalling the thematic gauntlet thrown down since the first book: Grow up or lose the girl.
O’Malley could be cited for treading in Apatowian man-child waters, but Scott is a far more identifiable and nuanced character than Rogen or Segal archetypes. Scott’s slacker is sweeter, less crude than most perpetual-adolescents, unlike Apatow’s failed man’s man, full of cynicism and stoner rebellion at being picked last in sport. He (Scott) was too busy playing Pokemon for school yard rugby and he isn’t so much irresponsible as unaware of any responsibilities. He’s totally solipsistic. His life is a paradigmatic example of the slothfulness and boundless energy attributed to teenage boys. However, Scott’s struggle is too emotionally mature without sacrificing his geek livelihood. His nemesis and final opponent, Gideon, is suave, rich and powerful, making the final battle a struggle between alpha and omega males. In that way, he’s the anti-Don Draper, struggling with masculine identity, except headed in the opposite direction. And just like Don Draper, Philip Marlowe and any other Knight-errant masturbatory aid, Scott isn’t real. His absentmindedness, independence, earnestness and commitment to the virtua vida is simply a pipe dream for admiring dorks. But as a fantasy, Scott Pilgrim is top-notch, making the faded indie band t-shirt a suitable rival for the grey flannel suit.
The manga-influenced artwork and video game allusions in “Finest Hour” are fresh and funny. O’Malley incorporates familiar level-ups and extra lives gags while introducing other media-blending humor. For example, the final showdown features commentary by a Web 2.0 Greek chorus, updating characters’ Wikipedia pages amid the action.
But none of these Gnostic nerd gags are necessary to enjoy “Finest Hour.” Scott Pilgrim’s appeal is broad and extends beyond the comic-indie-Canadian axis. “Finest Hour” takes Scott Pilgrim to the next platform.