Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Lets get this out of the way. It's tough for me to talk about Scott Pilgrim Finest Hour in any sense that even approaches objective.
There’s some art that just syncs up with your life. People talk about how when Harry Potter ended, so did their childhood. That particular series never had that kind of synchronicity with me. I didn’t start reading it until the middle of high school. Pilgrim though? Oh man that hit the sweet spot for maximum possible impact. I discovered that first volume the year I first lived on my own. And the last finds me at a major cross roads in my life.
I don’t know if Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour, is Scott Pilgrim’s actually finest hour. I suspect that title will always belong to the wounded and lovely Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Universe. I mean come on, last night I compared that particular piece to The Searchers and Pickpocket, and if that doesn’t suggest that I hold it in high regard I don’t know what does.
I’ve heard a lot of opinions voiced on Volume Six and can more or less understand all of them. There are moments that made me want to cheer, and artistic decisions that I just plain don’t get. It feels both as if O’Malley is running through a check list, and doesn’t have enough time to do everything he wants (and at six volumes and thousands of Pages I have to hand it to him. Never once did it look like he was running out of ideas)
Structurally speaking final volumes of anything are built to disappoint. Early installments exist in a vacuum. Their discovery is a happy accident, the closing chapters bear the weight of expectation that increases exponentially with each new chapter. The reason why that rare work of art that does stick that impossible landing become so cherished is their rarity. For every Return Of The King there are a dozen X Files Series Finales.
Still success or failure, best or worst (and I’ve heard both opinions voiced) when I closed the cover on the last page I felt as if I was closing a chapter on my own life. And its not every day that a piece of art will do that to you.
Finest Hour is a work of fiction about letting go of fictions. It's about facing who you are and what you’ve done, taking responsibility for it, and trying again anyway. It’s epic, goofy, heartfelt and funny. Bitingly ironic and blisteringly sincere (The two reach synthesis with the fearlessness with which O’Malley has always literalized his metaphors. It takes powerful faith in your readers investment to literally heal a characters wounds with the power of love). In short it’s a glorious mess, and a perfect microcosm for the series.
So to Bryan Lee O’Malley, and all the rest I can only say thank you. Of Scott Pilgrim, and his wonderful world, and their supporting cast I can only say what I can only say about the fictions I most cherish. I will miss them all terribly.