Good morning, class! Today’s lesson is Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe. Are you ready? This is the second-to-last book in the Scott Pilgrim series, and, to be honest … it kind of feels like it. Just what do I mean by that? Well, allow me to explain…
So, if you’ve no idea who or what Scott Pilgrim is, then I encourage you to check out my earlier review of Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 4: Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together. It’s not the first book in the series, but it’s the first SP book I reviewed on this blog, and I supply some valuable background information there. Henceforth, we will assume a basic knowledge of Scott…
So let’s get to it.
Well, frankly, compared to the previous Scott Pilgrim books, Vol. 5 is a bit of a downer. And a little dull too. That’s not to say it’s bad. It still retains the Scott-Pilgrim’s-Toronto charm that Bryan Lee O’Malley has so deftly wrought. It just kinda pales in comparison to the previous four volumes. It’s a bit underdeveloped, like O’Malley is filling space in Vol. 5 for the purposes of setting up the (presumably) big finale of Vol. 6 – the very last of the Pilgrim books.
So why exactly does Vol. 5 suck just a little bit? Firstly, the bad guys are pretty lame – and their fights with Scott are consequently not very interesting. We learn less about these particular evil ex-boyfriends than any previous – and furthermore they actually use a proxy robot to battle our good hero Scott! Not that I have a problem with him fighting robots. It just feels like in this case O’Malley is taking an easy out; where in previous issues the conflict felt much more plausible. Well, you know – as far as comics are plausible. Anyway, it’s all just feeling a little routine at this point, and it almost seems like the book acknowledges that a bit – like an inside joke.
Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, I regret to reveal that all is not well between Scott and Ramona! I know it’s just a plot tool, but I hate to see them that way! I’m way too invested at this point, and honestly, don’t we all just want to see Scott happy? It’s simply critical that they get this resolved in Vol. 6 (which I’m fairly sure it will). Plz tell me that Scott’s story has a happy ending!!! Also, will we finally get the details on Ramona’s weird history with these evil exes? Time will only tell.
One more disappointing note: We see precious little of the rest of the Pilgrim posse. Where are Stephen Stills, Young Neil, Knives Chau, etc., etc.? The Scott Pilgrim story does not exist on Scott & Ramona (and exes) alone! Don’t deny us that lovable and colorful supporting cast…
For this book’s handful of shortcomings, I am pretty stoked just being set up for the inevitably-epic final chapter. To make matters worse, the Scott Pilgrim movie has been playing on HBO for like a month, and I’ve tried to not watch it (as I’d like to wait until I finish the books first). Ok, so I’ve watched a little, and it seems … interesting. But I promise to give you the full review, after I watch it properly.
Artistically, Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5 is more or less the same stylish, cute, manga-influenced line-art fare that you’re used to at this point in the series. O’Malley is basically a comic genius, and I don’t know how much more there is to say about it. It’s good. He’s good. It’s GOOD.
One thing to note is that O’Malley did update the graphic design a little in this one – specifically the typography. He makes use of some font (and admittedly I did not take the time to find out which font) that looks to me like a 1960s textbook. Very retro, very cool, a nice juxtaposition. Maybe one of our design-oriented readers can clue us in on the specific font? In any case, it was a nice and clever way to refresh the series a bit, especially at this relatively low point in the story.
If you’ve read Scott Pilgrim so far, then definitely pick up Vol. 5 and traverse the bridge to the big ending (as if you wouldn’t anyway). If you’ve never read SP, do yourself a favor and pick up Vol. 1 and get to it – cuz this series is a delightful, cool trip. While I’d rate the Scott Pilgrim series overall a 9, I’d give Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe a 6/10.