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Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe Review

The latest Scott Pilgrim graphic novel (we’re up to Volume 5!) from Bryan Lee O’Malley is a change of pace from past volumes, as the story is reaching its conclusion in the next volume, so certain plot points are advanced a bit further than they were in past volumes and matters are dealt with in a more serious manner, which is an interesting twist that makes this one of the “deeper” volumes of the series, while still maintaining the endearing charm of the earlier parts of the story. As Scott Pilgrim matures, so does his narrative.

Oh, and there is a shiny cover!

There are two especially notable changes in this volume, compared to past ones…

1. For the first time, the battle scenes are not major aspects of the comic, or rather, they are major aspects, but more for how they affect OTHER characters as opposed to how they affect Scott himself. This was a brilliant idea on O’Malley’s part, as by the fifth volume of the series, we get the idea that Scott is going to fight some of Ramona’s evil ex-boyfriends and he is going to win, so while it is certainly awesome for Scott to be fighting killer robots, it is equally awesome to see how the people around him react to Scott’s standard brawls.

2. Also for the first time, we see characters (and the story itself) truly look beyond the present, and ask “What happens AFTER Scott defeats all of Ramona’s ex-boyfriends?” Last volume, we saw Scott Pilgrim “get it together,” but does that really prepare him for a future with Ramona? Has any of the past volumes truly prepared Scott for a “real life” with Ramona beyond the spectacle of fighting her evil ex-boyfriends? It’s a sober reality that pops into the tale with a vengeance, as O’Malley pulls the ol’ bait and switch, giving us heartfelt drama in the middle of our funnybook!

As it usual for a Scott Pilgrim graphic novel, there are tons of cute little moments, like Wallace texting Scott via Ramona or the evil ex-boyfriends setting up a Sex Bob-omb show just to attack Scott with a robot.

But the best part of the comic I found to be the deep character work, mostly with Kim Pine (who has not exactly been over-flowing with character development to this point) and Ramona Flowers, as both characters attempt to come to grips with their place in life, and interestingly, though they take drastically different routes, both characters’ answer (for now, at least) is to run away.

Kim and Ramona are also both involved in perhaps the best scene in the book, where Ramona’s ex-boyfriends (in this volume, twin brothers) have Scott doubting Ramona, only for Kim to renew Scott’s faith in Ramona – only doing so via deception on her part. It’s a touching/dramatic/almost heartbreaking scene.

More so than most Scott Pilgrim volumes, this one ends in a cliffhanger, and if the quality of Volume 6 remotely compares to the first five, then the wait for Volume 6 is going to be agony.

Highly Recommended.

11 Comments

Well, I’m super pissed that my comic shop (at 3:00 on the day the book was released) was sold out. I have very little use for comic shops anymore and this might have been the final nail in the coffin. Apparently, Amazon, Borders, and Barnes and Noble aren’t carrying the book until late in the month (why?). I’ll proably have picked up a copy off of ebay by then.

Book stores usually trades and graphic novels later then the direct market. I suppose it’s why it’s called the direct market.

Yeah I heard it sold out in a few places in NYC. Forbidden Planet had a bunch (they’re good like that).

Definitely one of the strongest volumes. Scott and the series have come a long way. and the focus on Kim and Ramona was nice. Especially Kim who seemed to be one of the more interesting characters in the background (I like how O’Malley gave little hints about what was going on with her life throughout the series).

Favorite exchange:

“I’m Sorry for Me.”
“Apology Accepted.”

Great exchange, Grant, but that exchange is even better if you extend it to include the earlier part of it. Doesn’t he open with a general apology (like “sorry for everything”) and she’s all, like, “Sure, whatever,” and THEN he goes to “I’m sorry for me” which really touches her, leading to her response.

[...] Comic Book Resources reviews Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim Vs. the Universe. [...]

FunkyGreenJerusalem

February 5, 2009 at 4:57 pm

I gotta say, this was my least favourite of the series – it really felt like it was only half a volume, and we barely saw any of the other characters… and when we did, they were being dicks (Stills in particular).
The story felt a little rushed to me – like he wanted to show Scott being deeper, and just showed the scenes where he is, but without naturally moving the character to that place.
Maybe I’d feel better about it if it had come out a little quicker – waiting a year really builds your expectations.

You’re probably right Brian but I just wanted to highlight the best bit but it doesn’t seem so great out of context espcially with O’Malley’s great drawing and the character’s expressions and body language (particularily Scott’s expression).

I don’t know Funky, to me the book is about the period where you start distancing yourself from some of your friends you knew from college and high school. It seemed to pretty natural to me that some of the characters are fading in the background.

It’s also interesting Scott’s parent and brother make an appearance at the end (since they were barely seen or mentioned at all). I don’t know of there’s any deeper meaner behind that but I found it interesting.

got it today! comic shop shipment comes in every thursday =D and no1 in singapore knows or cares bout this book but i m spreading the love. somehow.

i ve just bought the 4 books 2 weeks back so i kinda read it all back-to-back. agree with funky that this was also my least fav book. i adore the series for scott’s goofiness and his smart ass wit. that being said, my fav line was prolly: the future..? with jet packs..? LOL

but this book went all serious-like. its okay that bryan spent 1 book doing more intense character development. just felt lik it was kinda like the “order of the phoenix” of the series. i just hope vol 6 would be awesome! with more of scott’s half-brain comments when you least expect them.

also, didnt like the shiny cover. never liked those. they stink! literally! n they bend easily and they remain that way! bah!

FunkyGreenJerusalem nails it perfectly. Being the least interesting Scott Pilgrim book means that it’s still a really good comic, but I was expecting a lot more. Not much Knives, and when she’s there it’s not really fun anymore. Not much Stills, and when’s he there he’s just a jerk. Etc.

Plus, this was the first time where I found it harder to care whether Scott and Ramona would stay together – she’s always had a dark side, but she was kind of unlikeable in this one.

Maybe re-reading it will make me appreciate it more. I’m still excited for volume six, so hopefully that will really crank the fun back up.

[...] subtle. This book continues the series trend of increasing in seriousness each volume, but in my dissenting opinion, O’Malley has taken the drama into too dark a realm for these characters [...]

For those who think this one isn’t enough fun:

This is the “Empire Strikes Back” of the Scott Pilgrim saga. It is the best of the bunch. Everyone grows up a bit, people have to deal with their mistakes, so naturally it’s a bit dark. It’s also funny and clever and has the most humanity.

As an artist, I’ll note it’s the best drawn. Bryan’s had some style experiments through the years, but he really seems to have distilled it and has a confidence I haven’t seen before. It’s fluidly cartoony, but there’s a solidity behind the fluidity. This is the first time I could draw (cartoon) skeletons inside the figures and they’d all make sense. The storytelling decisions are also impeccable. It’s still full of self-conscious tricks, but they never detract from the emotional content.

It’s mature and never cheap.

I’m sorry for me.

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