Pick of the Week: Sex Criminals #1

By | September 26th, 2013
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

Somehow, Fraction and Zdarsky’s hilarious and touching (not that kind of touching) collaboration featuring a creative premise, beautiful artwork, and Nabokov quotes made Pick of the Week.

Go figure.

Written by Matt Fraction
Illustrated by Chip Zdarsky

Suzie’s a normal girl with an extraordinary ability: when she has sex, she stops time. One night she meets John… who has the same gift. And so they do what any other sex-having, time-stopping, couple would do: they rob banks. In the vein of THE 40-YEAR OLD VIRGIN and BRIDESMAIDS, Image Comics invites you to come along with MATT FRACTION (Hawkeye, SATELLITE SAM) and CHIP ZDARSKY (Prison Funnies, Monster Cops) for the series that puts the “comic” back in “comics” and the “sexy” back in “sex crimes.”

If you’ve kept up with Multiversity at all in the past few months (and you should since we’re the best) you’re probably aware of “Sex Criminals” and more importantly how excited all of us here have been for it. Well, after having read an advance copy of it three times and buying the print version for one more go-around, we can confirm that yes, “Sex Criminals” is really all that and a bag of Chips Zdarsky.

Again, we’ve covered this book extensively here so a quick synopsis is probably redundant, but it should still be pointed out just how freaking clever the plot is. For those who don’t know, Suzie, our lovable protagonist, has a problem wherein she freezes time every time she orgasms. She lives her life relatively normally until she meets a man with the same quirk and the two decide to use that power to commit crimes. It’s funny, touching with a potential for the romantic, and honestly ingenious. Fraction’s dialogue is genuine, heartfelt, and downright funny while a layer of depth lies behind every character. Especially this issue’s spotlight, Suzie, who is hands down one of the best new characters of 2013. Within this one issue, Fraction crafts a character who above all else, besides being funny, besides being intriguing, besides being relatable, is one of the realest people to walk onto the comics page.

And though we do love Fraction with the power of a thousand blazing orgasms, without Chip Zdarsky on art this comic would simply not happen. It just couldn’t. Zdarsky’s art takes what could be the skeeviest titles on shelves into the sweetest. His portrayal of faces perfectly conveys every nuance and wink behind every line. Plus, Zdarsky hides so many wonderful little details in his panels like the “Reading is Sexy” poster on page one or just the way Suzie floats around John at a party in a gorgeous splash page. The way the party just fades away while John and Suzie just sit and talk and everything stops being about the party and the night becomes about just them is fantastic. Also, Zdarsky’s stick figures during Suzie’s “lesson” in the bathroom stall is hands down one of the best sequences in a comic. The scene also serves as an incredibly educational moment. I cannot wait to tell my girlfriend about “The User Agreement.”

Though Zdarsky does an incredible job all throughout with the art, the truly great moments come whenever Suzie enters “The Quiet,” that silent frozen post-coital space. Lights flashing, colors blurred (double extra shoutout to Becka Kinzie for her color flatting skills). It’s beautiful, confusing and scary; just like actual sex. In fact, the greatest thing about “Sex Criminals” is the use of sex within. It’s not played off as a nervous joke (though there are plenty of sex jokes. So many sex jokes.) but rather for what sex truly is. It’s kind of weird and not the easiest to explain. Sometimes it’s enjoyable, sometimes forgettable, and sometimes it just makes you feel more alone than ever.  There are so many moments in “Sex Criminals” that just get what sex is. It’s weird, it’s a little mysterious, and yeah it can be fun or it can be really bad, but it’s not just a joke or an excuse to show off some lady bits; sex is a part of the human experience. Fraction and Zdarsky are exploring here just what sexuality means, from Suzie’s hookups as an adult to her incredibly awkward first experiences in her younger years. In many ways, you could say it’s a coming of age story.

Continued below

Wait! Not like that!

Okay, kind of like that.

Before I make any more regrettable jokes, I should close out by saying that “Sex Criminals” is one of the most essential comics of 2013. It’s heartwarming at points, hilarious at even more points, and real all throughout. Plus, the male lead’s first words are the opening monologue to Lolita. I have no clue who showed “Sex Criminals” the way to my heart, but it’s stuck there with little chance of leaving anytime soon.

Final Verdict: 9.7 – If you don’t buy this I hope every partner you have is really into “Three-Second Rule Taco.”

James Johnston

James Johnston is a grizzled post-millenial. Follow him on Twitter to challenge him to a fight.