ORDINARILY, one doesn't have to get all cloak-and-dagger to read a comic—but such was the case a couple weeks ago, when Oni Press invited me to their Portland offices to read Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour. I wasn't allowed to take the book out of Oni HQ. I wasn't allowed to share any spoilers. And I wasn't allowed to punch my way through Oni's phalanx of editors, race home, and put the book on eBay, where I could've made a tidy profit.
Then again, Scott Pilgrim is no ordinary comic. Bryan Lee O'Malley's six-volume series—which began in 2004 and which director Edgar Wright has turned into a movie that's due out next month—is beloved by fanboys and hipsters alike. The books follow a Canadian slacker who's forced to fight his girlfriend's seven evil exes—with exuberant, manga-influenced art and pitch-perfect characters, Scott Pilgrim is as good as comics get. There's a reason why over 150 stores nationwide are having midnight release parties for the final book, including Portland's Bridge City Comics and Floating World Comics.
I (still) can't tell you much about Finest Hour—not that I'd want to, 'cause watching O'Malley end his tale is an experience no one should have secondhand. O'Malley's grown considerably as a writer and an artist; Finest Hour not only features some of his best storytelling to date, but also delivers a satisfying, surprisingly resonant conclusion that bursts with the wit and heart that make—goddammit, made—the series so great.