REVIEW: ‘Steven Universe,’ Volume 9

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Steven Universe Volume 9 - But Why Tho?

Steven Universe Volume 9 is a trade paperback edition of BOOM! Studios’ imprint KaBOOM’s comic book series based on the Cartoon Network show of the same name created by Rebecca Sugar. This volume, titled “Cherished Memories,” includes issues 33-36 and is written by Taylor Robin, illustrated by S. M. Mara, colored by Ziyed Y. Ayoub (33-34) and Whitney Cogar (35-36), and lettered by Mike Fiorentino with cover art by Missy Peña. A short “Snap Shops” from the comic book Steven Universe: Welcome to Beach City is also featured, written by Grace Kraft and illustrated by Kelly Turnbul.

Steven Universe Volume 9 offers four self-contained stories that occur roughly during or after season five of the series. They are all original stories but tap into stories from many of the day-in-the-life episodes of the show. Issue 33 finds Peridot introducing Pearl and Amythest to her favorite TV show, “Camp Pining Hearts.” Issue 34 is about Lars and the Off Colors, issue 35 has Greg Universe helping Mr. Fryman with a vehicular debacle, and issue 36 sees Steven and Connie back at the library to read up on Buddy Budwick’s adventures.

Each issue encapsulates the show’s heart and soul exquisitely. Like many a Steven Universe episode, nothing grand or important happens. Rather, they are just opportunities to check in with favorite characters and see them living their wacky lives in Beach City and beyond. The writing captures each characters’ voice perfectly to the point where I can hear them speaking the dialogue in my head and never feel as though somebody says something their character wouldn’t say on the show. The stories are simple, but each satisfying nonetheless.

The illustration is nearly spot-on. The gems all look exactly as they do in the show, as do the backgrounds and settings at large. Steven’s face in Issue 33, however, seems to be just ever slightly misshapen. It took me out just slightly, considering everything else was essentially perfectly replicated. But not enough to cause real concern. The colors similarly match exactly what I would expect from a Steven Universe drawing. They’re bright when things are happy and muted when things are ominous. The jewel-like colors used in Issue 34, in particular, bring the world to life and set it apart from the other earth-bound issues in this collection.

I also greatly appreciate that the issues in Steven Universe Volume 9 are willing to keep dialogue to a minimum when art can better tell the story. There are many full pages that are just time-lapse panels without dialogue, offering a chance for the illustrators and colorist to show off. When dialogue does appear, it is well spaced out and articulated exactly in the manner the characters would speak, especially the slow-speaking Flourite in issue 34.

The short story “Snap Shots” at the end of the volume is okay. While it sweetly illustrates the wonderful relationship between Steven and his dad, it is a bit hard to follow narratively. The art style is also distinctly not the same as the rest of the book, and it’s not bad, but it takes a different artistic approach, and it clashes against the rest of the book. The art style would stand on its own, especially knowing that it is a one-off short. But next to the full issues before it, it falls flat.

Overall, Steven Universe Volume 9 may not add troves of character or plot to the show it is based on, but it does offer great day-in-the-life stories, much like some of the best episodes of Steven Universe.

Steven Universe Volume 9 is available wherever comics are sold December 30th.

Steven Universe Volume 9
4.5

TL;DR

Overall, Steven Universe Volume 9 may not add troves of character or plot to the show it is based on, but it does offer great day-in-the-life stories much like some of the best episodes of Steven Universe.