Why's a slacker like Scott Pilgrim such a great hero?

Reviewing Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour is difficult given that the SP sextology's one of most "either-you-get-it-or-you-don't" series I've encountered. Which is a pity, as it's a pop gem and Scott's such an intriguingly crappy protagonist.

We're presently caught in the temporal nexus between the release of Finest Hour on July 20 and the debut of Scott Pilgrim versus the World on August 13. It's a perfect media maelstrom, particularly with Comic-Con sandwiched between these two dates. This is certainly a marketing coup for all things Epically Epic; however, I do think that the lead character is still an X-factor to the uninitiated.

Why's a slacker like Scott Pilgrim such a great hero?

Image search "Scott Pilgrim" and he's either a doofy anime-eyed bobblehead or George Michael with an odd haircut. For those of readers who have never visited Bryan Lee O'Malley's interdimensional Toronto (where psionic ex-boyfriends blow up discount stores and nobody cares), defining the appeal of Scott Pilgrim — as both a hero and a series — can be tricky.

Here's a case study: when I was reading Volume 6 for this review, one of my friends began leering over my shoulder. She was confused by the series' manga-twee stylings and asked if it was "kids' stuff." Granted, it was the sequence in which a sketchy-ass Scott propositions a now-legal Knives Chau, so my response was "sorta."

And yes, on a certain level the Scott Pilgrim series is unabashedly kids' stuff. It's about being young, screwing, and screwing up. Scott's naivete is staggering (see: Scott's visions of Rome from Vs. The World). Some of the Evil Exes are still way too pissed about high school relationships. The series is steeped in so much lowbrow video game arcana that you'd need a microfiche collection of Nintendo Power to catch all the allusions.

(For example, Scott and company change the name of their band from Sex Bob-Omb to "Shatter Band," after the video game Shatterhand. Nobody remembers Shatterhand, but its cartridge art rivaled Bad Dudes in terms of sheer machismo.)

The thing is, all the doe-eyed manga explosions, non sequitur videogame power-ups, and otherworldly ex-boyfriend battles are just garnish to what's everyday relationship drama. Heck, even the characters know it's gravy — the only character to acknowledge that Scott is killing the exes is Envy Adams, who opines in Volume 3 "You just headbutted my best friend so hard he burst, Scott."

Why's a slacker like Scott Pilgrim such a great hero?

Envy, who's no saint herself, plays a key role defining Scott's roundabout appeal. In Volume 6, she reminds Scott that he was equally complicit in their messy break-up. Mind you, the reader has been inculcated by Scott to believe that Envy is an insufferable harridan. Previous volumes had shown that Scott was lousy to his girlfriends, but this revisionist history with Envy is the nail in the coffin. We know now that our hero isn't all he's cracked up to be. Indeed, in his final battle with Gideon Gordon Graves, Gideon taunts Scott and Ramona:

Why's a slacker like Scott Pilgrim such a great hero?

Getting rid of me...won't save you. You're your own worst enemies! Both of you!

Ramona's response? "No, I'm pretty sure you're worse, dude." Scott Pilgrim may be the source of his problems, but in Volume 6, he realizes that he has the capacity for change. Contrast him with the evil exes — they're smarter, richer, more interesting, more successful, more superpowered, and more attractive than Scott, but they still can't get over a girl they dated years ago.

Scott, on the other hand, will probably never be cool (he closes the book with, in the words of Neil, "an extremely bad cover of 'I'm a Believer' by The Monkees"). Kim Pine's rallying cry, "C'mon. He's Scott Pilgrim" encapsulates Scott's appeal as a hero. Scott Pilgrim is a hero because he is Scott Pilgrim, ipso facto. It's hard to understand Scott Pilgrim's heroism if you've never met him, but we all can understand his laboriously self-conscious attempt to be a less worse person. It's not the stuff of grand epics, but hey, that's what the robots and ninjas are for.