Scott Pilgrim Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe – A REVIEW

Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe is scheduled to be released on February 4th, 2009. The hotly anticipated next volume of the insanely fun and creative comic book by Bryan Lee O’Malley is the second to last in the series. With the movie adaptation of Scott Pilgrim starting production, this begins the long road to the final volume and the eventual movie release. The anticipation for Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 4 back in 2007 was intense, and even with a shorter time period in-between books this time around, everyone is waiting for this next volume to see what’s next in the adventure of Scott Pilgrim as he attempts to win the heart of his girlfriend Ramona by defeating her Evil Ex-Boyfriends. 

When iFanboy was presented with the opportunity to get an advanced look at Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5, we jumped at the opportunity to read it and report back to you about it. We promised to not reveal any spoilers or details of the plot, so don’t expect that (we wouldn’t want to do that anyway), but there are a few facts that we do know and can share before we get into our reviews:

• The entire book is black and white. Despite rumors to the contrary, there is no color section of the book like there was with Volume 4.

Volume 5 is the second to last volume, with the final volume, #6, schedule for release early next year, most likely to coincide with the movie release.

• There is going to be some super cool, limited stuff related to this volume at the New York Comic Con. We even offered a clue in our most recent video show’s post. Be sure to follow Oni Press on Twitter to find out more.

With that said, both Conor and myself read Volume 5 and wanted to present our individual, spoiler free reviews.  So dig in, get ready to get excited for the next volume of your favorite book and check out what we thought of it.

Ron Richards’ Review of Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe

When Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 4: Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together came out in 2007, I was shocked at the impact it had on the comic reading world. It seemed as if everyone had become completely enamored with this bizarre world of young twenty somethings that Bryan Lee O’Malley had created. I compared the release of Volume 4 to the phenomenon of Harry Potter books, calling Scott Pilgrim the Harry Potter of comics. Stories of people waiting in line at their comic shop on the day the book was released flooded in to iFanboy and it seemed like something very special was happening with this quirky and unique book.

It seems as if O’Malley has been able to tap into the idea of keeping fans at bay, building their anticipation causing them to rabidly want more. Every time I recommend someone check out Volume 1, almost every time they’re back for the rest of the volumes within hours of finishing that first book. Now with all this hubbub about the movie adaptation of Scott Pilgrim (directed by Edgar Wright and starring Michael Cera), the Scott Pilgrim fervor is reaching new heights. So with all this excitement and expectation swirling around the comic, one has to wonder whether or not O’Malley can still deliver the goods.

After reading Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, I can safely say that not only has O’Malley delivered the goods again, but he’s taken it up a notch, with this second to last volume in the series.

Amazingly, when I finished reading the book, I sat back in my seat and had the immediate thought that this may be the darkest, most personal volume of the usually light-hearted and fun video game inspired comic. Previous volumes have played up the slacker motif of the jobless bass playing hopeless romantic Scott Pilgrim. Comedic moments and amusing scenes have taken us through 4 volumes as Scott Pilgrim fights his girlfriend’s evil ex-boyfriends in video game like scenarios. But with Volume 5, something is different. The story has taken a definitively more interesting darker tone. To continue the cinema metaphors, Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5 is the Empire Strikes Back of the series.

Sure there are funny moments in the book, I even laughed out loud several times at some of the dialogue which is as witty as ever. My favorite humorous moments stem from poking fun at the timeline/duration of the story with subtle jabs at the publishing schedule over the past few years. But in addition to the usual humor, it seems as all the characters around Scott have slid into a darker period, be it his girlfriend, his bandmates, and everyone else around them. There is a definite cloud hanging over Toronto for this chapter, and it’s fascinating to see how O’Malley has woven this into the texture of the complete story to a natural point where I can’t imagine this book not having the dark tone that it does.

In addition to deftly handling the darker tone, O’Malley has really improved as a writer with his characters and their relationships. Scott and his girlfriend Ramona now live together, and the scenes of them in her apartment together were clearly a sign of the growing up metaphor, as Scott deals with a more “Adult” living situation than his previous apartment with his gay friend, which had an eternal youth feel to it. There is one scene in particular that features Scott and Ramona discussing their relationship that is realistic, mature and bone-chillingly believable. It was this scene that really solidified the fact that this volume may be one of the best of the 5 released so far. With diminished focus on the wacky (such as the video game hijinks and fighting etc.) and more in depth relationship explorations, Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5 is a much more complex and personal story, which for me is totally the best way to go.

As the volume finishes up, it’s clear the direction the final volume will take, but that’s not the point. The point lies in how the characters get there and a few years ago I would have thought that it would be easily predictable, but after reading Volume 5, O’Malley has impressed me enough by throwing that predictability out the window. Similar to that stunned feeling I had at the end of Volume 1, I have no idea what to expect. Not because it’s wacky and unique, but because now O’Malley has made the story and characters complex and even more relatable.

Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe is yet another fantastic volume by Bryan Lee O’Malley. As soon as I finished reading it, I wanted to have Volume 6 so I can see where the story leads.  It’s going to be a long year before we finally get there but I can already guess that when we do, it will be worth it.

Rating: Story – 5 stars (out of 5) / Art – 5 stars (out of 5)

Conor Kilpatrick’s Review of Scott Pilgrim Volume 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe

The comic book with the most incisive look at young romance is the one where occasionally the main character stops what he’s doing to engage in video game style brawls with his girlfriend’s evil ex-boyfriends and their robot henchmen.

Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series has brought to the masses so real it hurts early-to-mid 20s love and romance infused with video game inspired action. To so many people living squarely in the middle of mainstream American comic books, Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life was like a slap in the face. With each consecutive volume in this series O’Malley’s skill as both a writer and an artist has grown, the books have gotten better, and that continues here with Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe.

What’s amazing to me is that this series has grown along with Scott Pilgrim and his friends. What started out as a fun and funny story about a bunch of friends in their very early 20s trying to make their rock band work while navigating the complexities of adult(ish) love has grown much more complex. And as a result with this newest volume, Scott Pilgrim has become a much more brutally honest work.

Scott Pilgrim, the lovable slacker musician from Toronto, is still fighting his way through his girlfriend Ramona’s seven evil ex-boyfriends as is the condition of being in a relationship with her and winning her heart. But in this volume more than any before it, the fighting is mostly background noise to the examination of love and relationships, and especially of the fact that as you grow older they become more serious. And not just of Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers’s relationship but those of their friends as well. When this story started they were all around 22 and still basically slacker kids. As this book begins, Scott Pilgrim has turned 24 and true adulthood is creeping in. Perhaps not so much with Scott Pilgrim (c’mon, he’s still basically Scott Pilgrim), but certainly in those around him.

The older you get and the longer you are with someone the more serious and complex your relationship tends to get, both for the good and for the bad. This is the main theme explored in Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe. There are a few devastating truthful sequences here, that (I’m not afraid to admit) dredged up a few uncomfortable memories on my end. This is the most emotionally honest we’ve seen O’Malley be in this series and for me that’s what made this volume the most satisfying.

I don’t want it to sound like this book is a downer, it’s not at all. There are some extremely funny bits in here that had me laughing out loud, with one in particular that had me laughing for pages, so much that I went back to look at it again. O’Malley also implements a series of clever visual comedy bits, some great silent gags, and interesting scene transitions that really show off how masterful O’Malley has become as an artist.

I feel like I might see where this is all heading in the final volume but I wouldn’t want to make any definitive declarations. This series is way too unpredictable for me to do something stupid like that.

After completing Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 4: Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together we said that Scott Pilgrim was one of the most important comic books of the last ten years. I’m happy to report that after having completed Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim vs. The Universe that my opinion has not changed. Scott Pilgrim is one of the most important comic books of the last ten years.

Rating: Story – 5 stars (out of 5) / Art – 5 stars (out of 5)

Scott Pilgrim, Vol. 5: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Universe comes out on February 4th 2009.
Order your copy from Amazon today!


  1. Holy crap I cannot wait to read this.


    Thanks for the review!

  2. Thanks for the review. I’m even more pumped now!!

    Think I will do a 1-4 reread to try to contain myself while waiting for 5.

    So, so excited!

  3. what kwisdumb said!

  4. Holy crap I am so excited about this. Not only because it’s like 2 WEEKS  away and that’s not so long a wait, but because I can get my none-comic-book-reading-sister to freak the shit out over this.  This is literally the only graphic book I can get her to read.  She read all four volumes in a day.  A DAY! and then began to pester me about when vol. 5 was coming out.  This was last year.  I’ve had her displacing her annoyance at Bryan, for not publishing like he was R.L Stein, at me for a year. I’ll take the pain of this next year of her torturing me for the 6th and final volume, if you guys are right about how awesome this book is. 

    My kingdom to be living in somewhere near New York.  South Dakota is just too far away. Stupid geography. 

  5. Gaaahhhhh – I’m jealous you’ve read this already. I jumped on the band wagon when 4 came out (I bought 1), and like Ron said, I immediately went out and got 2-4, devouring them within the weekend. Feb. 4 can’t come soon enough.

    I’m a little hesitant hearing about the change in tone, but I’ll put my faith into two 5-star reviews from a couple of guys whose opinions I value.

  6. Ah so this is series is video game influenced….That would’ve made more sense to know that beforehand after reading the first volume.

    (Which I liked overall but the ending was very unsatisfying to me to all of you who think I troll and hate on everything)

  7. @TNC-Knowing that about the book beforehand would have ruined the surprise of finding it out towards the end.

    I can’t wait for this book.  It’s just a blast and its one of the only comics I can get my wife to check out.

  8. And what?  AND WHAT?!?


    Volume 5 cannot come out soon enough.  I got into shortly after volume 4 came out.  Like others have said, I got the first volume, then immediately grabbed the other 3.


    The movie is shaping up nicely too.  Superman as a vegan bassist dick?  Awesome casting.

  9. My most anticipated thing in comics this year, no question. Can’t wait. Awesome review, guys!

  10. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @TNC – The video game influence is readily apparent even in the beginning of the book.  If anything, the ending is more anime or manga influenced that a video game homage.  Although those things are sort of incestually bonded. 


  11. @Paul: I must’ve read a different book cause I dont see any influence to video games or anime-like fighting towards the end of the book. But I wont dwell further cause I’ll be beating a dead horse again…..Like I do with many arguements 🙂

  12. Holy Guacamole I cannot wait for this. I pre-ordered it on Amazon like last month and now I’m worried it might not arrive on my doorstep until a couple of weeks after everyone else has read it. I WANT IT NOWWWWWW.

  13. I read the first volume, then instantly grabbed 2 and 3, still haven’t gotten to number 4 yet…. (damn you bad economy!)

  14. Whoa, I wasn’t at all surprised that Ron loved it but Conner’s co-sign sealed the deal for me.  What’s great is that just last week I got a friend to read the first volume and she liked it.

  15. Hey, I love SCOTT PILGRIM as much as anyone!

  16. so happy to see that scott will be keeping up with me, I was 22 when i started reading this series and it is cool to see that right before i turn 24 so will he. kinda errie too.

  17. Man, I’m sooooooo jealous of you guys. Feb 4th get here already!!!

  18. I can’t wait!  I just saw volume 4 at the library, though I didn’t pick it up.  Forcing myself to make it through my stack first.  Dammit!

  19. Congrats on getting the sneak peek, gentlemen. I need to get around to reading v3 and v4 and will probably take a break from the Marvel DVD project to get to those soon. 

    And while this doesn’t make me jealous, if you get Empowered v5 early … green as the singing, stage-managing amphibian Kermit shalt I be. 



  20. Can’t wait for this to come out.  Thanks for the advance reviews, but it’s a sure bet this thing is going to be awesome!

  21. Added this to my pull list a month ago so I wouldn’t forget.

  22. @paul- wait did you get an advance copy also?? how do you know about the ending and how the book is?? i didnt know you got hookups also

  23. @smeeeee: Paul is talking about Volume 1.

  24. So jealous!

    Tracking down the last volume after it came out was a big pain where I live. Think I’ll just stick with Amazon so I can read it as soon as possible.  

  25. I only have Vol. 1, but I can’t wait to get caught up.

  26. i love scott pilgrim so much. you guys were the ones who got me to read it cuz of thqt video show on scott pilgrim ages ago. now i cant stop reccommending it to everyone and now i cant wait for the new one!!