Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: Piotr Kowalski
On Sale Date: October 30, 2013
Publisher: Image Comics
The simplicity of the title be damned, Casey and Kowalski have ventured out to the darkest, stickiest corners of super hero culture and returned with a slow-boiling story of repression that examines the fetish-like aspects of capes and masks. Sound like fun? It is, but be warned, this is not a book of big thrills and double-page fight scenes. The thrills come from peering deep into the psyches of the characters and the action. Well most of the ‘action’ in this title is best summed up by the title.
Issue eight is the last of the current arc, and all the issues will be presented in trade later this month. I felt it was important to mention this early on, as any reader picking up a random issue of this will be lost. And frankly the trade will probably be a much better read for those unfamiliar with Casey’s esoteric style. But the beauty of this book is in the understanding. It’s not so much what the characters do, as who they are (and in some cases, were) and how they feel that will draw you in.
Simon Cooke is a wealthy captain of industry, who also happens to be the retired protector of Saturn City. (Think a post Dark Knight Rises Bruce Wayne). Only a handful of people know about Mr. Cooke’s past dalliances as a masked vigilante, and they treat him with the delicacy of a returning war veteran. Everyone who knows the real Simon Cooke know that this boring life of a billionaire playboy pales in comparison to the life lived behind the cape and cowl. His rouge’s gallery feels the pain of his absence as well. Old enemies stew inside a hedonistic landscape, imprisoned by their lifestyle choices, seemingly wishing for a nemesis to crop up and thwart their plans, if for nothing more than a quick thrill. All events are presented against the backdrop of Saturnalia, an eyes wide shut style orgy that regularly happens for the cultural elite. Cooke’s lawyer, Warren Azoff, secures him an invite, hoping that the carnal delights within will spark some kind of response from his listless and bored employer.
This book does less story-telling and more question asking, something akin to what Moore’s Watchmen and Vaughn’s Y: The Last Man have done in years past, albeit to a more carnal extent. What drives someone to dress in costume and fight crime? What’s the psychology behind creating an alter-ego for yourself, an anonymous figure held to ideals and standards beyond that of a mortal man? And when you stop being that other person, how do you fill the void left behind? In Casey’s mind, we’re all empty vessels, scrambling to fill ourselves up, with money, power, happiness, or pleasures of the flesh. The result is unlike anything I’ve read, and maybe doing less to satisfy the ‘average’ comic reader’s expectations does more to advance a deeper, richer dialogue about how we view heroes, ourselves, and our basest desires.
After eight issues, Casey’s Sex may not leave you satisfied, but if you give it a chance to breathe, it will leave you wanting more, another itch you can’t wait to scratch.
I give this book 4 out of 5 Nerdskulls.
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