Get It Together! The Scott Pilgrim Chronicles - Part 5

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"I, Scott Pilgrim, will be the best 24-year-old, ever!" – Scott Pilgrim
And so begins Volume 5, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Universe. With Scott primed to battle the remaining three evil exes, we begin in a more comfortable setting. A small get together commemorating Scott's twenty-fourth year of life. Let them eat cake, because what's in store for our favorite couple and plucky hero is not all roses and rainbows.

Very early on we're introduced to Scott's next foe(s) at another theme party being thrown by a pseudo friend. It’s the kind of party everyone complains about, but goes to because there's nothing else to do.  Enter Kyle & Ken Katayanagi, the twins. Yes, two evil exes for the price of- well, two.

Aptly described as a handsome jerk and the perfect asshat, apparently Ramona had another phase, pitting the twins against each other during their relationships. Ramona wasn't always a good person, but neither was Scott. Again, we're given a look into their sordid pasts adding tension and unrest between them. The honeymoon stage is winding down and they're beginning to see underneath the layers. Scott's smart enough not to look a gift horse in the mouth when it comes to his luck, but the same things that plague every boyfriend still apply. He wonders about the extent of her past and internally questions if this is all worth it. Of course it is, right?

Scott's not the only one thinking and digging up skeletons, though. Ramona becomes increasingly curious about Scott's previous adventures as well, becoming closer with Kim Pine (the drummer and former flame of Scott's). It's almost as if she's searching for his flaws. Perhaps she's scared or maybe even a little self-destructive. Whatever the reasons, both begin to finally assess the damage of the past and see if they can truly build a future together. Perhaps love isn't enough?

All of this and more lies inside the pages of Universe, while O'Malley slightly changes the pace of the book to fantastic effect. Here, the fights are no longer a focal point of the book, happening most often on the periphery of conversations between Ramona and other characters, most notably Kim and the still obsessed Knives Chau.

This volume delves farther into Ramona as a person. It stands to argue that volume 5 is mainly about her reaction to everything that’s transpired over the last few months (see volumes 1-4). We know Scott, but how much do we really know Ramona? How much damage did this Gideon guy really do? Has she been unlucky in love, or is she a little evil too? All these questions and emotions are in direct conflict with what her heart wants. You truly do get the sense that Scott, in his infinite adolescence, is what she needs. Deep down, so does she, on a subconscious level at least. She's even letting her hair grow long (there's that hair thing again).

O'Malley wisely takes this opportunity to add more characterization to Kim Pine. She has a distinct perspective about Scott and is arguably someone that knows him the best. She's been a constant in his life since high school that may even have more claims to his heart than anyone else.

The creator infuses deep emotion with his pencils this time out, nailing scenes of great despair and confusion. The level of emotion he conveys with his pencils is the best in the series so far. The complex feelings involved feel so real and familiar that the ending of this volume inflicts a touching blow for all involved.

Beyond gimmicks, nostalgia and giant robot battles, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Universe is the end of an emotionally epic second act. Loyalties are tested, hearts are shattered and love is on the line as we journey into the final chapter. For the first time we're asked to question if Scott and Ramona should be together. Has this whole adventure been for naught? Was it simply the lesson Scott needed to learn in order to become an adult, or should he continue to fight even though hope may be lost?

All will be revealed in the series conclusion, but O'Malley gets major points for doing a number on the collective hearts of his readers. The pain rings true and comes as a surprise in story that's typically light as a feather. In order for our hero to continue, he has to look inside himself. It stands to reason that in order to have a successful relationship, you have to know who you are and where you came from. These two people need to find out if there's any hope of living happily ever after.
It also stand to reason that if you've made it this far, fair reader, that you can't resist the call of Volume 6, Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour. With these high stakes threatening every part of him, can Scott really see this challenge through?
There's only one way to find out. 
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The Universe is available from Oni Press priced $11.99.

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