Feb 14

Comic Review – Sex Criminals Vol 1: One Weird Trick

The only non-euphemism in the whole comic

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! Whether you’re single, in a couple, or polying it up, enjoy this day of love, romance and passion. We at Anicom also love all of the above (as well as using butt in conversation far too much / not nearly enough), so what better day to look at Image Comic’s amazing series Sex Criminals!

We’re gonna talk all about the big, hard, throbbing 140-page long first volume of the series, which covers the first five issues, and why you should definitely buy it.

So imagine if you could stop time by orgasming. What would you use that power for? An escape? A chance to look in places where you couldn’t normally go? Or to rob banks and use that money to save a library from closing? Well, spoilers, that last one is exactly what happens in Sex Criminals. Sorta.

I say that because a *lot* of the story in this first volume is taken up with backstory. You get to see a lot of the past that led Suzy and Jon, the leading couple, to where they are now, and when you think you’re finally progressing… the main “villain” gets a ton of screentime too! Don’t get me wrong, it’s all good content, and I love having the present version of the characters, Suzy especially, narrate their history, but seeing as the story keeps looping back to the current time where they’re robbing a bank before cutting away again and again… you really just want the series to get on with it.

The character’s backstories aren’t much to write home about either. Suzy has a few family issues but nothing uncommon, and Jon hates his job. But that’s before you factor in The Quiet, as Suzy calls it, or… Cumworld… as Jon puts it. The pair of them discover as they enter puberty that they have the power to freeze time when they climax, which is, as you can expect, endlessly fascinating and terrifying.

Suzy tries to reach out for advice, but finds little help when nobody can really relate to that power, and ends up using it as an escape for bottled up childhood angst. Jon, on the other hand, enters the porn shop Cumworld, exploring fetishes and generally causing teenage mayhem. As the two of them grow up they have sex with many others hoping to find comfort or a connection, but have to look upon the frozen faces of orgasm… until they meet each other at a party and, understandably, freak the fuck out when both of them enter the other realm.

From that point on, you see their lives entwine, even though there isn’t much chemistry between them besides the shared power. They talk about their past and their present, including their work, which is where the library being closed plot comes to fruition, as Jon suggests using their powers to rob the bank he works at, with Suzy being dragged along. And then the Sex Police arrive and… okay, I won’t spill everything, but they fight with sex toys, so that’s awesome.

My biggest takeaway from the writing was less the characters themselves but the comic’s phenomenal sense of humour. It never shies away from sexual discussion, and also manages to be as mature and immature as you’d hope for a title called Sex Criminals. Cumworld is an absolute splurge of jokes if you take the time to read all the random video titles (my favourite is “When Harry Let Sally Penetrate Her”, don’t ask me why), and the post-it note scene was a delightful piece of meta-humour that was better than the actual intended scene. Unless it was the intended scene. With Matt Fraction writing, who knows.

Chip Zdarsky does a great job in the art department too, especially in The Quiet, which feels like an out-of-this-world experience and never fails to look great anytime it happens. And the Sex Police costumes, which look equally outrageous. Oh, and Cumworld again, of course. Basically, his work perfectly fits the tone of the world he’s drawing.

So why should you “definitely buy it”? Not just because of the wangs and tits, but the comedy that seems through every pore of the book. It manages to be consistently and occasionally serious without either detracting from the other. Throw in that crazy unique premise, great artwork and surprisingly mature look at sexuality’s effect on people and society, and you’d be a fool not to give it a look.

Also it won Time Magazine Comic of the Year back in 2013 when it started. Oh, and an Eisner. And it’s getting a TV show in the near future. That’s definitely gonna be one to watch. Maybe they’ll finally get the rights to use Fat Bottomed Girl…

There are currently fifteen issues of Sex Criminals available, with three trade paperbacks collecting all of those issues and one deluxe volume collecting the first ten, available from Comixology, Amazon and your local comics retailer. There’s also a special spin-off called Just The Tips, which is… exactly what you imagine.

Have an awesome Valentine’s Day everybody and I’ll see you back next week for… for… hm, I have like the 5 weeks after that planned out but nothing for next week. Er. I’ll think of something. Until then!