Alastair: Hey kids! Cameron is away for the next few weeks, so you’re getting a double dose of my ramblings. I hope you all had an excellent Free Comic Book Day on the 3rd – I missed out on my chance to partake in the greatest day of the year, but if I’m lucky you might see a breakdown of some of the tastier choices next time around. Now, on to the comic of the week!
One of the things I like most about the ‘minor’ publishing houses (and that’s becoming a loose term these days) is that for the most part they tend to stay away from the whole ‘capes and cowls’ thing. Because they deal primarily in creator-owned comics, you see a lot more in the way of out-there, even experimental stuff, as well as all the explicit content that the Big Two definitely wouldn’t allow. Sex Criminals, by Matt Fraction (Hawkeye, Satellite Sam) and Chip Zdarsky (Prison Funnies, Monster Cops) definitely falls into the ‘explicit’ category, so anyone under 18 should probably stop reading right about now. But hey, who listens to writers anyway?
You might remember me talking last column about how Image is nominated for 20 different Eisner awards – Sex Criminals is one of those nominated titles, with nominations in the ‘Best Continuing Series’ and ‘Best New Series’ categories.
As the name suggests, Sex Criminals is about sex … and it features some criminals. The thing is, though, that they’re not initially criminals: Suzie is a librarian, and Jon is a banker/repressed actor. What’s unique about them, though, is their secret: when they orgasm, they can freeze time. They both use their gift for different reasons. Suzie uses it to get some peace and quiet as a teen, and tries to understand what on Earth is happening. Jon, on the other hand, used it to steal pornography as a child, and to poop in his horrible boss’ favourite pot plant. They meet at a party, and on discovering that they share the same ability, they become a couple. Suzie’s favourite place – her library – comes under threat of closure by a bank, and she is determined to save it. So, they do what any good time-freezing couple would do – they decide to rob a bank, using their ability and Jon’s knowledge of the inner workings of banks.
Obviously, Sex Criminals is a little weird. It’s one of the more interesting and original titles I’ve read recently – I mean, who would’ve thought to combine sex and the ability to stop time? What really makes Sex Criminals work is its humour. It’s not afraid to be silly – again, we’re talking time manipulation-meets-sex here – but it’s also pretty darn sweet, despite the sexual overtones. While sex certainly plays a big part in the story, what really makes the story great is the relationship between Suzie and Jon.
Fraction’s writing is a big highlight of the story – an already great scene with Suzie singing ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ by Queen is made all the better by Fraction’s explanation of why they can’t show any of the lyrics. Zdarsky’s art is excellent, too; there’s a fantastic trippy effect whenever the proverbial criminals freeze time that adds an extra-surreal vibe. If it wasn’t already obvious, Sex Criminals is most definitely not a kid’s comic – but it’s a damn good adult one. Fraction and Zdarsky have a really unique, funny series that will get you hooked and signing up for a subscription as soon as possible.
Written by Cameron Urqhuart and Alastair McGibbon