Sex Criminals # 1 – 4
Written: Matt Fraction
Art: Chip Zdarsky
Publisher: Image Comics
Sex sells. Cliche but true.
When I first heard of this series, months before it was released or even solicited I turned to Google. Not the best idea. Google “Sex Criminals” and you will be shocked with the results, disconcerting to be sure. Puritans and prudes need not read further, there is nothing here for you, and there is nothing wrong with that.
That preface is to say that I came into this title with little more than a leap of faith. I am a fan of what Matt Fraction has been doing for years. Add a dash of an eccentric artist, Chip Zdarsky, who speaks to Applebee’s like it is his close friend on Facebook, and we are bound to have an interesting dish, best served cold.
While some mainstream work has been outstanding, such as Scott Snyder’s The Wake, the best new books have been creator owned and coming out of Image. As a direct and proximate result thereof, I have picked up almost every new series Image releases for the first 5 issues as a trial run. There have been some misses, but enough hits to continue this tradition.
Very little excited me anymore, it may be a personal problem. I do read over 80 new comics a month, and very few do it for me anymore. I keep several subscriptions out of a sense of loyalty knowing as soon as I break up the run, a new writer or artist will revitalize it, but I digress. We have all been there, a general sense of malaise that we can’t escape from. Whether this applies to life, your job, or sex life, everyone has inevitably hit a general yet ambiguous impasse in life. This book has the protagonists in such a rut until they meet each other and then sparks fly and time seems to stop, then it in fact does.
How? In this universe the premise is simple, whenever either protagonist orgasms, time stops. One of the more unique ways to stop time, but ultimately, probably more satisfying then hitting 88 miles per hour. Let me be clear, this is not time travel. Time literally stops.
So what is the hook? Is the sex and sexual situations gratuitous and sold for shock value? I would have to answer affirmatively (Cum World is one of the protagonists happy places after all), but not enough to detract from the overall storytelling. Fraction seems to be having a good time, and I think a lot of readers will get in on the jokes more often than not. Sure there are some groan inducing lines or gags, but not even Friends was perfect.
I must warn you some may be put off by the characters routinely breaking the so called fourth wall and speaking directly to the reader, but I think this writing tool is used as well as it can be. The jump between narrators can be jarring at times but a minor quibble and nothing more.
Scathing social commentary on the sense of entitlement and rationalizations one can take to justify their actions. Deep down the protagonists aren’t right or wrong, they are fully realized idealistic reflections of a bunch of people I knew in college and as a young professional; the lack of depth is their depth.
I do not find the protagonists’ motivations for robbing the bank to be particularly noble. I think they are having their jollies and also able to rationalize their actions as equitable, they are doing this to save a library after all. They may or may not know their real motivations, but I acknowledge and judge them for it, but I will continue to read this book because it is well written, entertaining, and I think about to get a lot more interesting (which is hard to do as it is already in the top 10 of my reading list). I mean a bus driver time cop? Brilliant.
The most glowing recommendation I can give this book is despite all the flaws, it is still one of my most eagerly anticipated books.
I give Sex Criminals 5 out of 5 Nerdskulls.
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