Scott Pilgrim vs. the Universe (Oni)
Writer/Artist: Bryan Lee O'Malley
There's a certain futility in reviewing the fifth book in a series of six. Presumably, everyone has already made up their mind as to whether or not they like Scott Pilgrim and its mix of action, melodrama, and liberal references to Claremont era X-Men and 80's video games. While it's a bit much to call it a zeitgeist comic, it unquestionably captures the spirit of the ascendant geek culture, and you're either part of that culture or you're not.
Setting all the in-crowd stuff aside, this is the best book yet in an already outstanding series. As usual, Scott must do battle with Ramona's evil ex-boyfriends (twins, this time), but the real action involves how the core characters are growing up as individuals, even as they grow apart as a group. Other reviewers have noted that O'Malley's story went much darker in this installment. But what makes this book so impressive is that it follows through on the experiences of its characters in a natural and logical fashion. Everything that happens to the characters in this chapter feels earned, and O'Malley has perfectly captured the messiness of growing up.
The bar has been set very high for the next and final book.