Early Review

Early Review - The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Vol 1

Stieg Larsson's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Volume 1 Hardcover comes out next week. It's the third time the novels of the same name will be adapted into a visual medium. If nothing else that should speak to the amazing popularity of the books by Swedish novelist Steig Larsson. 

Despite his having died before what many would consider to be his masterpiece ever saw the light of day it is certain now that he managed to create one of the defining figures of literature of the new millennium:

Lisbeth Salander.

Writers far better than I have explained why this series, and why these characters, have managed to dig such deep hooks in to much of the global reading community. Film critics have spoken at length about the impact and relative success of adapting the books into the film medium. 

I will leave these men and women to their own conclusions and to their own reviews. I can only speak with any kind of authority to the medium which I have devoted much if not most of the reading time of my life consuming, Comics.

It's hard to start talking about the book without first addressing the book's cover. The cover by Lee Bermejo (which I feel would be somehow criminal without including a link to the full sized image so click HERE ) is a beautiful piece depicting the titular character and certainly speaks volumes about the character. I could loook at this piece forever. It's amazing. I keep finding things about it that I love (The most recent being what looks like a dragon in the smoke curling from Lisbeth's lips).

Denise Mina's work from DC's Vertigo comics line as well as their Vertigo Crime Graphic Novel line showed a spectacular grasp of the medium. Her Hellblazer work in particular was really fantastic. She does a great job of adapting the work of another novelist to a new format and lets much of Larsson's original work speak through, something with which many tasked with adaptations struggle.

Her collaborators on this work have a distinct difference that they bring to the work, which I think is part of what makes this work somewhat magical. First the work of Leonardo Manco. Manco and Mina have worked together before, on the issues of Hellblazer that Mina penned. So there is a familiarity to the language that they share on the page. It is clear that he grasps what she is asking of him on the page. Manco's work, which focuses on the character of Lisbeth, is brilliant. It is very lifelike and at times verges on photorealism without feeling too staged or posed. It still breathes and manages to capture the characters without making them look like celebrity portraits. There is a darkness and a grit to the pages that Manco pencils and I think that it brings the world of Lisbeth and the characters that inhabit her corner of Stockholm to stark reality. For a character who is incapable of understanding the shading of emotions it certainly makes a great deal of sense to have this kind of work depict her (It also helps to have an artist who can capture something of the kind of style that the cover depicts working on the interiors).

The artist who depicts the events from the perspective of Mikael Blomkvist is Andrea Mutti. Mutti is an Italian artist who has also worked at DC's Vertigo imprint and is probably best known for his work on graphic novels like The Executor and Right State and on Brian Wood's DMZ. The difference between Mutti and Manco is instantly recognizable which is fantastic in many ways. It helps to discern the characters (all of whom are just average folks wearing average clothes) and it helps to differentiate the ways that the characters perceive the world. Mutti's pencils are a little more traditional when it comes to comics and he has a great sense for story telling that is different than the kind of page useage and pacing that Manco utilizes.

Mutti's art depicts things from the perspective of a man whose world is coming apart at the seams and who is looking to find refuge from the real problems in his life where ever he can. So that it is distant from the style of Manco adds to the strangeness of the world in which Blomkvist finds himself inhabiting. 

Each part of the original Millennium series will be broken into multiple parts so as to give the series enough room to breathe which I think has every indication of making the comic a great series for existing fans of the novels, existing fans of the films, or even attracting a new audience all together. 

I can only give it the utmost of praise ... and that it makes me want to finally finish reading the novels.

Busiek & Ross Work Together again on Kirby

There is something magical about certain creators and even more so about certain combinations of creators. Many people acknowledge the truly miraculous works created by the combination of Stanley Lieber and Jacob Kurtzberg. Though most people know them by their pen names of "Stan Lee" and "Jack Kirby".

Jack Kirby is best known as the King of Comics because of his work for the big 2. His work creating characters like Captain America with Joe Simon, The Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, Thor, and The Avengers all with Stan Lee, and then signing an exclusive contract with DC in 1970 and created The New Gods, as well as all of the other Fourth World characters, The Demon Etrigan,KamandiOMAC, as well as breathing new life into the floundering Pal of the world's greatest Superhero, Jimmy Olsen. 

But what a whole lot of people forget is that his career didn't end when he stopped working for the big 2. He went on to work Pacific Comics, Eclipse Comics, and ToppsComics and to create brilliant ideas and imaginative works until his death in 1994 at the age of 76.

To have been the kind of creator that he was and to be as prolific as he was is almost a contradiction in terms. Creators of his caliber in other fields burn out long before they are able to amass the kind of body of work that he seemed to easily craft. Many people consider him to be one of the most imaginative creators of his day and perhaps of all time. Of Kirby, the New York Times said: 

"He created a new grammar of storytelling and a cinematic style of motion. Once-wooden characters cascaded from one frame to another—or even from page to page—threatening to fall right out of the book into the reader's lap. The force of punches thrown was visibly and explosively evident. Even at rest, a Kirby character pulsed with tension and energy in a way that makes movie versions of the same characters seem static by comparison."

It's not surprising that many creators have tried to make his characters relevant in the modern day out of respect to the man and it's simultaneously not a great surprise that most have failed. It's almost as if he was creating in another language that just seemed visual like other comic books and in English by coincidence more than anything else. It seems, to many, that he was the only one who could really bring what he brought to those characters.

So perhaps it was the perfect kind of idea for another incredible duo of creators, who have, through little more than legerdemain and a kind of twin-speak that makes for the perfect kind of collaboration, paved a way for themselves and created one of the most memorable tales of recent comics memory, to take the Kirby characters least explored, often only done up as designs and mock-ups, and to attempt to craft a world wherein they might all exist.

And that is exactly what Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross have done with Kirby Genesis.

Having only worked together on the utterly brilliant Marvels these two giants of the comics world have been brought back together by Dynamite Entertainment in order to make a cohesive world of characters, most of whom have never appeared anywhere outside of The King's own sketch books. If anyone can do it I think that it is these two. With the help of Jack Herbert, who has previously worked on Black Terror, Project Superpowers: Meet the Bad Guys, and Avengers/Invaders with Ross, the dynamic duo of Ross &Busiek have put together a sufficient enough a preview of their intentions with Kirby Genesis #0 to whet my appetite and have me slavering for more.

Herbert's finishes over Ross' layouts manage to dance the line of looking enough like Ross, and at times Kirby, that those who are buying the book for the kind of visual storytelling that Ross is capable of should not be disappointed, the pages painted by Ross should keep them coming back for more as well.

There is something fascinating about the way that Busiek tells stories as well, especially these kinds of stories. We'll be following the events of the series through the eyes and colored by the lives of outsiders, much in the same way that we did in Marvels and it's follow-up Marvels: Eye of the Camera, who are not a part of the world of the brightly colored super-powered heroes of the mind of Kirby. To have three humans mixed among them will allow us a doorway into the action of the series in a way that will allow us to be as fascinated by the goings on as the characters we follow.

Ultimately, even with only 12 pages of comic content, the rest of the book being devoted to DVD like extras to give the reader an insight into the creation process, the book is well worth the $1.00 pricetage and I think it'll leave you as excited about next month's #1 as I am.

When Fear is Enough

It is perhaps most famously attributed to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of These United States, during his first Inaugural Address. Paraphrasing Sir Francis Bacon, Mr. Roosevelt said "So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." and in a time when America was at the depths of it's greatest depression it was, in many ways, precisely what we needed to hear. That the things that kept those proud Americans awake every night were simply best set aside and that the future and not the past should be our greatest concern. Not to think about the loss you suffered yesterday but instead the gains you might make today. Not to ignore the past, no. But to learn from it. To find what caused retreat and convert it into advance.

This has become one of the tent poles of the American ideology. That we need not fear. That we must learn. And that the only thing to fear is that unnameable, unknowable, ungraspable darkness in the night.

But today we fight a "War on Terror". Today we fear the kind financial collapse that crippled our nation in the 1930's. Today we see something to fear around every corner and behind every cloud. Fear has become something that drives us ...

"So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself ..."

Never before have we needed to heed these words so direly. Never before have we had to put fear behind us than now. The things we fear are numerous, and many of them are unknown ... but many have names.

"... nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

In this time of tumult and terror writer Matt Fraction has found a way to solidify fear, to give it heft and shape, to, perhaps most importantly, give it a name. Yes, fear has a name ladies and gentlemen. It is not just the unknown of the future or the change around you that has left you ever so perplexed. Fear, dear readers, is The Serpent. He is the true All-Father and he has no interest in your worship, he cares not for how you treat your fellow man, he sees no worth in man ... except as a creature of fear.

The conceit is an interesting one. It has an air of the difference between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. And while Odin may not have been the most loving All-Father he, I believe, is going to be shown to be the kind of loving god that sends his champion to earth to fight alongside the world's mightiest heroes and The Serpent would have crushed the world's mightiest heroes under his heel until they were a quivering miasma of uncertainty and terror.

This is the kind of story that events should yearn to be. Written by talented writers who aren't afraid to challenge the world as we know it, yet whom have respect fo the characters that he will use. Drawn by the kind of artist who will bring honesty to the emotional expression of the characters on the page and who knows how to craft both scenes of epic battle between foes as well as scenes of intimate exhcange of ideas between compatriots.

Stuart Immonen is the kind of guy who was born to draw this series. His work in the past has been perfect to position him for this kind of event. Expect the action to be well paced and easy to follow across both panels and pages. Also, expect to see expressive faces and to understand the body language of the characters ... and also expect to be wholly creeped out by The Serpent.

Fear Itself #1 and Fear Itself: Homefront #1 both hit the shelves tomorrow and you're going to want to get them.

How on Earth did I Find Myself Reading Venom?

Seriously.

How?

I've never, ever, liked Venom. Not even when one of my favorite writers, Warren Ellis, included him in the pages of his criminally overlooked Thunderbolts series.

As a child my best friend's favorite comic was Amazing Spider-Man and when we were in 3rd grade in Mrs. Ponder's class I was completely taken with Jim Valentino's space faring operatic epic Guardians of the Galaxy he was wrapped up in this guy Todd McFarlane's new Spider-Man series. I have very distinct memories of our having conversations in JC Penny's while our mothers shopped about how he thought that Arnold Schwarzenegger should play the brutish villain Venom and that perhaps the star of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Matthew Broderick, would play his favorite comic character ... Peter Parker.

I could have cared less. My mind was in the stars. The stars of the 31st Century to be specific. I was too busy wondering what was going to happen to Charlie-27 and Nikki were ever going to patch things over or if Major Vance Astro was going to survive having his next encounter with Starhawk or the next breach of his containment suit. Wondering if I was the only kid who thought that Martinex was cooler than Ice-Man, despite my concurrent fascination with the Simonson run on X-Factor.

I didn't have time for "symbiotes" or such nonsense. And as we all know what we like and don't like as a 3rd grader will inevitably shape what we like when we're nearly 30. Yet I find myself drawn to this new Venom series. Perhaps it's because I read Marc Guggenheim's Amazing Spider-Man #574 and was completely taken with the story of Flash Thompson as a soldier in Iraq (thank you Scott Blumenkamp for making me read that issue).

Perhaps it's that one of my other favorite writers currently, Rick Remender, is writing the book with one of his most imaginative collaborators, Tony Moore, doing the pencils.

Perhaps it was the Amazing Spider-Man #654.1 that came out a few weeks ago that seemed really cool and that set the tone for what might be, finally, a cool idea of how to use the Venom character.

Perhaps it's all of those things combined.

Whatever it was though I am glad that I did. 

Cause it was great.

Seriously.

 

 

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (Movie Review)

I was introduced to the Scott Pilgrim books while visiting San Diego for Comicon in 2008. My best friend from high school loaned me the first four volumes which I devoured over the weekend and immediately purchased upon arriving home. Six months later Volume 5 was released coupled with the news that they were beginning filming. I couldn't believe it, this was actually being made!

Scott Pilgrim vs. Comic Accuracy

When a movie based on a property we love is announced strong, divergent feelings are evoked. First we are excited beyond belief, we dance around the room shouting praises to the gods. Then our endorphins subside and the doubts being whispering vile things like "kid-friendly sidekick" and "Michael Bay directing" and we scour the internet researching every rumor, checking the writers' credits and invoking dark rituals of protection. I have done this before, and I did it again with Scott Pilgrim. But I couldn't comprehend what was happening. Every rumor, leak and announcement just stoked the fire of my glee. The director and casting were great! Every image from the trailers seemed to be lifted straight from the comic! And while everyone knew that the unfinished final volume obviously wouldn't be ready in time for filming they were working from Bryan Lee O'Malley's notes so it would be similar in plot and theme. But while watching the film I was surprised at how different the plot seemed to unravel. Most of the subplots (Mr. Chau) were eliminated and many plot points (Envy's weak spot) were altered and blended into other scenes. While I noticed the changes and omissions they were hardly a distraction. Looking at the whole movie I feel the choices were smart and only helped streamline the film. I can only hope fans look at it from the direction that these cool bits were left in the movie only by repurposing them.

Scott Pilgrim vs. Pacing

The pace of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is a mad rabid sprint at break-neck speed across a mine field. It could be disastrous with one wrong step but luckily Edgar Wright pulled it off flawlessly. The verbal sparring between mother and daughter on the Gilmore Girls seems plodding and clumsy compared to the quick, biting dialog in Scott Pilgrim. The film is a brilliant weave of seamless scene transitions with characters walking out their apartment door into a nightclub like we just turned a page and extensive usage of jump cuts bouncing us from panel to panel around a page. Items purposely appear and disappear with humorous regularity eliciting confusion from the character in the dark and laughter from the audience. Everything in Scott Pilgrim is a blink away from being missed. If the movie tripped over its own feet it would shatter into more coins than any of the evil exes drop upon defeat. But it doesn't. It speeds through the projector as one of the funniest, smartest movies Hollywood has delivered in years.

Scott Pilgrim vs. My Opinion

The end result was nothing less than spectacular. For a movie I have been anxiously awaiting for over a year it exceeded even my high expectations. Beginning with the 8-bit styled Universal Pictures logo complete with the company's theme in midi format, through the slavish comic captions, amazingly realized sets and fantastically choreographed fight scenes, Scott Pilgrim is the best comic-to-film adaptations I've seen. In fact, it is a great movie period, with no clarifying language needed. I was utterly hypnotized by the film. I loved it. It was much better than Cats. I'm going to see it again and again.

Nick Spencer Strives for a Better Future with Morning Glories

Nick Spencer is a name that has been on my mind for quite a while. First I couldn't stop hearing about his sci-fi mini-series Existence 2.0 (which has been optioned by Platinum Dunes to be made a feature film, and was followed by Existence 3.0 which will be collected in a combined series collection later this summer). Then his series Forgetless totally overtook me with full on geek joy. There was something magical and spectacular about this weird homage to non-linear story telling and modern teen culture that captured me whole cloth and held me down and made me gasp, laugh, smile, and even truly feel. His next series, Shuddertown, is a dark murder mystery that I've mentioned a few times on the ComicDorksCast and has really got me enthralled as well. There is something really hard to peg about what makes his work so incredible but it has left me feeling an awful lot like I did when I walked out of The Tivoli Theater after having seen Christopher Nolan's Memento: "I know that this is going to be the kind of creator whose career I am going to follow unhesitatingly and whose impact on the industry is going to be incredible." 

Prior to c2e2 I had heard whispers about Spencer's next series Morning Glories which I thought was initially called "Morning Glory Academy" (which, as shown by the teasers leading up to the convention and the announcement of the series, was not an entirely silly idea) sounded really interesting and then I got to sit in on the Image panel at c2e2 where Spencer revealed that the series would be, in his words: "Runaways meets LOST". That's really all he had to say to get me interested but once you start looking at the character teaser images, done by cover artist Rodin Esquejo, you start to realize that there really might be something special going on with this little series.

And then you read the first issue, a day early in my case, and you become such a big fan of what is going on in the series that you can't stop thinking about it. Much like the series premier of LOST or the first issue of Runaways it leaves you chock full of questions and dying to get the next installment. Spencer paces out the reveals and develops such intriguing characters in the first issue that you can't help but be taken in by their charm and infuriated by their brash, callous, youth. And the opening scenes make you, or at least me, wish that there was a score to go along with them. I was dying for music to pair with the scenes, so much so that I was even hoping for the kind of sound-tracking methods that Chynna Clugston used in books like Scooter Girl, but was pleased enough with the kind of dramatic instrumentation that was going through my head as I read it (sort of like a Hanz Zimmer kind of thing ... but maybe that's just me).

The book is rather well drawn by Joe Eisma, and with the exception of one minor coloring mistake I felt that it lived up to the expectations that I had set for it, which I will admit were lofty. There is a great sense for individuals throughout the book and each of the characters has a very distinct look all their own. And in a book where each of the characters are likely to be wearing similar uniforms, their school uniforms even, it's going to be important that each character be unique and Eisma does so with panache. 

The book starts with one of the most "grab-you-by-the-shirt-collar-and-drag-you-along-with-reckless-abandon-and-leave-you-breathless" scenes I've read in a comic in a ridiculously long time, maybe only The Boys #1 has started with as break-neck a pace as this book. And the book doesn't really slow down from there. It keeps introducing new concepts and new characters and posing new questions as you go along. It's, in many ways, indicative of the kind of comics we've been seeing from many publishers outside of The Big Two in the last year or two. Books like The Boys, Irredeemable, Incorruptible, Umbrella Academy, Chew, Fear Agent, Scarlet, Criminal, Incognito, Sixth Gun, American Vampire, Sweet Tooth ... and you know ... more.

This is a book that belongs alongside those I've just mentioned. This book is going to leave any reader with even the slightest bit of taste with their jaws on the floor, and I am not afraid to assure that. It's, without question or hesitation, going to be the Satisfaction Guaranteed Book of the Week at the South County Fantasy Shop this week. Between the complexity of the characters, the pleasantly mind boggling story, the exciting art, and the incredibly composed (and totally excellent) cover I think that it has every chance to be the best new book of the month (and is easily in the running for best new series of the year, in my humble opinion). 

And much in the recent spirit of the comics industry there has been a recent announcement by DC Comics that Spencer will be penning their long awaited T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents series (to be drawn by the incredibly talented CAFU) as well as a Jimmy Olsen Co-Feature (drawn by R.B. Silva who recently pencilled the totally excellent Secret Six #23 [a brilliant take on The Most Dangerous Game]) to appear in Action Comics starting with September's #893. Spencer could be the kind of creator for DC that Hickman has been for Marvel, and this is your chance to catch the book that everyone is going to be clamoring for in a few weeks. Get there first.

DC's Elseworlds Returns with Last Family

When DC ceased publishing new Elseworlds stories in 2004 it seemed like a real crying shame. They had crafted some of the most interesting stories that comics had published in the 16 or so years that they had been releasing these hypothetical stories of major DC characters. What would happen if the Wayne Family had found baby Kal-El instead of the Kents? Superman: Speeding Bullets by J.M. DeMatteis and Eduardo Barretto answered that question. What if the Justice Society of America had been mere men of adventure who fought for the side of good during WWII? Tony Harris & Dan Jolley's JSA: The Liberty Files explored that very scenario. And perhaps one of the greatest comics of the last 20+ years, Kingdom Come bore the Elseworlds logo. But it was understandable when DC decided that they wanted to focus on telling the best stories they could in their established universe. Their decision to do so would birth a new wave of incredible stories all based in the DCU and kept the readers focus on what was going on with the major players in their own books and in their shared world instead of fracturing their attention off onto alternate realities.

2004 was not just the beginning of the hiatus for the Elseworlds imprint. It was also the beginning of such landmark mini-series as Identity Crisis & Green Lantern: Rebirth. The following year was a banner year for DC with the release of Countdown to Infinite Crisis they fired the second shot of what would be their coming salvo of incredible stories to come over the next 6 years and there is certainly no end in sight for the incredible stories that are ready to roll out from DC. But I guess the folks in charge over at DC have decided that it's time to open the gates to fun and interesting hypothetical stories, because tomorrow Elseworlds returns.

Carey Bates & Renato Arelm's Superman: The Last Family of Krypton is an absolute joy to read. There is something subtly perfect about a book like this during the summer. The hypothetical they approach is "What if Jor-El had managed to save himself and his wife from the tragic destruction of Krypton as well as their son Kal?". What follows is an interesting story of the kinds of decisions that all immigrants must make. "How do we raise our son? He will never truly know what it means to be a Kryptonian, he will never see the planet of his birth. He will know far more of his new home Earth. Do we allow him to partake of their customs? Do we impose upon him our lifestyles?" and add to that the concerns of parents who will be seen as heroes, saviors, and perhaps in some ways even gods: "How will we ever have time to properly raise our son with so much responsibility implicit in our powers not to mention our knowledge of advanced technology?". The book was just the kind of thing that I was looking to read.

And it certainly doesn't hurt that Carey Bates has been working in the comics and superhero genre since 1963 and has an incredible pedigree of work under his belt. He returned from a 15 year absence from the industry in 2008 with True Believers for Marvel and now is breathing new life into one of the most widely loved imprints of comics history. Bates has a bit of age to his writing style but it makes it feel distinguished rather than dated (think more Denny O'Neill than Chris Claremont),

Renato Arlem is a 15 year veteran of the industry having worked most recently on the Blackest Night resurrected title "Weird Western Tales #71". His art has a sense of realism to it and really works for this story. The colors by Allen Passalaqua are most reminiscent of recent colors utilized by Howard Chaykin, which has been controversial in many circles but is, in my opinion, used spectacularly here. 

All in all the book has a few twists that you might not expect and introduces an interesting look at what kind of thought process it must take to be a superhuman in an almost entirely human world. It looks at the kind of responsibility that must be taken and the kind of gratitude that must be shown by individuals in order to not appear to be taking advantage or seem villainous. The book, as I said before, is just darn fun to read. And here's hoping that it's only the start of a resurgence of the Elseworlds imprint.

Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour Draws to a Close

It all started with a vaguely remembered rant from Warren Ellis shortly after I started managing the Fantasy Shop in Fairview Heights in Illinois. The year was 2007 and I had been managing the store for a while and wanted to start getting books in that I had always heard good things about but had never seen in the store that I had worked at previously. I was looking through the Diamond Star System Catalog and trying to remember books that I had heard good buzz about when I remembered an issuance of Warren Ellis' Bad Signal that had mentioned a book called Scott Pilgrim and how if I hadn't been reading it that I was somehow doing myself a disservice as both a comics fan and a human being. And so I ordered the book. And that's when everything changed.

Bryan Lee O'Malley's epic tribute to video games, relationships, music, heartbreak, falling in love, and being in your 20's blew the doors wide open on what could be done with narratives and comics on the whole as far as I was concerned. I quickly devoured the currently available 3 volumes and started recommending it to everyone with a pulse. I even went so far as to extend an offer to buy-1-get-1-free on volumes 1 & 2 to get people to check out what I thought might be the kind of comic that would make even the most staunch super-hero fan understand the charm and wonder of independent comics. And in many ways I was more than successful. Readers and customers who took a chance on the books returned desperate for more and I couldn't have been more pleased.

And then volume 4 was solicited and my heart started racing. I had to have more. I've never been a "Wait for the trade" kind of guy. I love the anticipation and the time to evaluate what has happened in each issue of a story to develop my own theories and think about the narrative arc. But for the first time I'd ever experienced I needed, NEEDED, the next part of a story. I had to have Volume 4 and was willing to do bodily harm if necessary. Instead I focused that energy into getting more people excited about the book and started pointing more and more readers toward the book. Giving a satisfaction guarantee on the books was becoming more and more regular and nary a one took me up on the chance to return the book. They brought the first volume home and returned anytime between a day to a week later needing to read the rest of the series. And eventually we were all waiting for volume 4.

I remember distinctly the day it came out, I had gone to take the deposit to the bank and to get Thai food from Tong Phoon (if you live in the Fairview Heights, IL area and have never eaten at Tong Phoon do yourself a favor and go order the Pad See Eew, you'll wonder why you've been avoiding delicious food for so long) and was coming back to the store and sat down to eat my lunch. I looked at my clerk Brian and said: "The store is yours while I eat my lunch and read Scott Pilgrim, don't bother me for a little while."

I sat and shoveled delicious noodles into my gaping maw and plowed through the pages of a comic that made me laugh out loud, think about life, and even perhaps tear up a little at times. And then it was over. And I needed Volume 5.

Volume 5 wouldn't come until 15 months later. But it was ever so worth the wait. To say that it lived up to my expectation would be a misnomer, it exceeded it by leaps and bounds. Another thing that a lot of readers complain about (and at times rightfully so) is late books. Having to wait longer than a month for the next issue of a comic can be frustrating. But when the book is as good as Scott Pilgrim (which few books are) you're happy to wait.

Once again I took the opportunity between volumes to get more people to check out the book and they were just as taken with the series as I was. By the time that the fourth volume had hit the shelves the book had started to become known as "The Harry Potter Books of the Comics World", fans would show up at midnight to get the book from their favorite comic stores in order to read it as fast as was humanly possible. Then rumors of a possible movie started to make the rounds. 

Having Edgar Wright, the mind behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (not to mention the utterly brilliant Spaced), behind the feature was an instant point of interest and the buzz behind the film began to grow exponentially. Wright featured frequent clips from on set on his website as well as a production journal that kept fans interest piqued. The casting seemed, to me at least, spot on at every choice and the wait to see a trailer of some sorts became almost interminable. By the time that the first clips of the film began trickling out as teasers, trailers, and finally the nearly flawless international trailer the excitement had reached a frenzy that could barely be contained. The release date for the final volume was announced and it left plenty of time to acquire the volume (though most would be waiting at the door the day of release) and read the conclusion to the series as well as give the whole series a re-reading or two before the film was upon us all. Michael Cera's Pilgrim looked spot on, Mary Elizabeth Winstead's Flowers a thing of alt-indie dreams, the Seven Evil Exes note perfect, and perhaps the most overlooked yet important Kieran Culkin's portrayal of Wallace Wells looked ready to steal scenes and become a kind of a step beyond mere token gay character. The world was ready for the brilliance of Mr. O'Malley.

And I have a secret ...

... I got to read the book early.

Scott Pilgrim Volume 6 Finest Hour is a tour de force. It's full of just as many brilliant, laugh out loud panels as any of the previous volumes and it shows the growth of the characters in such a deft and powerful way that I couldn't detach the ear to ear smile that grew on my face from the time I opened the first page. Opening a Scott Pilgrim book for me has become like watching the scroll before the Star Wars movies. There is a goose bumpy kind of quality to it. The final volume sated everything that I could have possibly hungered for when it comes to a comic of the sort quality (by which I mean totally awesome). From watching the effect that coffee has on Scott (eyes wide with the thrill of stimulants, hair jutting up like a Super Sayan), to the brilliantly contextual way that Scott remembers the way he's treated all of his previous girlfriends (Scott vs. NegaScott will go down as one of my favorite moments of the series), to Scott being forced to fight Gideon while wearing a promotional shirt for Gideon's new club ... to perhaps one of the best moments of the volume, the return of Gideon the Cat and the look on it's face when Scott holds it as he sleeps (could not stop laughing). The conclusion of volume 5 had left a lot of readers more than a little antsy about how the series would conclude and without spoiling it I will say that I was more than satisfied with the conclusion to this window into Scott's life that we were granted. I loved watching the questions get answered, I loved watching Scott do the things that heartbroken 20-somethings do. I loved the book. I loved that it concluded and that there won't be "The Continuing Adventures of Scott Pilgrim".

The last decade or so have included some incredibly satisfying conclusions to stories that I have loved, books like Y: The Last Man, Planetary, Bone, Strangers in Paradise, The Essex County Trilogy, Ennis' Punisher, Bendis' Daredevil, Brubaker's Daredevil, Alias, Rising Stars, Transmetropolitan, Losers, Preacher, Sleeper ... books like these are the kinds of books that come to mind when I think of Scott Pilgrim. I hope that Mr. O'Malley would find these kinds of comparisons favorable if not complimentary.

Scott Pilgrim is the kind of story that, if you have a beating heart inside your chest, will make you love comics, or even make you love comics again. I'll be the first to admit that over the last few months that it has taken me longer and longer to get through my weekly stacks of comics. I've felt a little over-saturated. But in the last few weeks there have been books that have rekindled my love for comics from it's waning bonfire to it's former towering inferno. And Scott Pilgrim's graceful yet frenetic and gloriously appropriate ending is certainly one of them.

And I love him even more because his name is Scott.