When “Sex” was announced, the title, obviously, got a lot of play (no pun intended) in the media, but many wondered how much of the book would actually be about coitus. It turns out, quite a bit.
Written by Joe Casey
Illustrated by Piotr Kowalski
SECOND ISSUE COLLECTOR’S ITEM!
Simon Cooke’s journey into the underbelly of Saturn City continues. Think about it… how repressed would YOU be after waging a war on crime for the entirety of your adult life? What happens when the superhero power fantasy finally ends? Find out by buying more SEX!
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat – there is a lot of actual sex in this book. Not that a book named “Sex” would be mistaken for an all ages book, but there is nothing at all ironic or winking about the title. This is a book where the act of people sleeping together is vitally important to not only the story, but also to the tone and feel of the book.
Sex, in many ways, is all about release. Pent up feelings, urgings and, not to be too graphic, fluids, all get released through sex, and Simon Cooke is a guy who needs that release, but is unable to achieve it. Throughout this issue, he starts things, puts himself in positions to make moves, and shows a desire to actually do something. But then, his repression pops up and rears its ugly head. Cooke needs to be able to let go of his hero past, to embrace his company, start a new life, or something – but he can’t. He is stuck in this spot of desire without satisfaction; his is a functionless existence.
This issue makes that theme abundantly clear. He can encounter a friend, walk through an orgy, sit through a briefing, enter his old HQ, even come home to his apartment, and do absolutely nothing. He has returned to Saturn City because he clearly wants something to happen to his life, but is in such a place where nothing can change. He is stuck halfway between indecision and apathy, and that is a fascinating place to find a character. Because of this, Cooke is void of just about everything right now. With the exception of each issue’s flashbacks, we pretty much only know him from what others say to/about him. He is an empty vessel, and is in need of getting filled with something to replace what being a hero used to be in his life.
The ex-hero thing is interestingly handled here, as there are none of the usual “end of heroics” tropes in play, like the aching joints, or trying to repair past relationships. Cooke seemed to be a pretty successful hero, but nothing else, leading to the total lack of a life to which he’s returning. This makes for an, at times, frustrating leading man, as there is nothing to grab onto. Unless you find him particularly studly, there is little else to see from Cooke that would lead a reader to really care for him, as of now.
And that is ok, because Joe Casey is a good enough writer to make the story interesting, even if the characters aren’t quite yet. Casey knows how to build a world that is enjoyable enough just to be a part of, even if there isn’t a ton of movement just yet. This can’t last forever; the characters need to start becoming more than just analogues (more on that in a second) and start to be something more substantial.
So far, the tone of the book has been perfectly matched by Piotr Kowalski’s art – it is pretty, it is stylized, it is relatively one-dimensional. That isn’t to say I’m not enjoying it; I think his style has fit the book to a tee so far; his women are beautiful, his exteriors fittingly detailed, and his action kinetic and exciting. But since so many of the characters give off this air of boredom in both their words and their facial expressions, everything has this glaze of complacency on it. Taken together with Casey’s story, Kowlaski’s art fits the ennui present everywhere in the book, but hopefully when (if?) the characters wake up a little bit, the art will correspondingly grow. It is also worth noting that while there is a lot of nudity in this book, it is handled more or less matter of factly. There is a something to be said for drawing a naked woman or a two people 69ing instead of trying to draw a character in spandex kicking in a way that shows off her boobs (that might be the mission statement for the whole book, actually).Continued below
Earlier, I mentioned how it is easy to see these characters as analogues, and there is one set of characters that they are especially close in likeness to, and that is the Bat-family. Cooke, a wealthy playboy without super powers; Quinn, his elderly companion; Annabelle, his confidant/nemesis/object of lust; Keenan, a young man trying to follow in his footsteps; The Old Man, a corrupt nightclub owner – these could all be Batman characters. That isn’t to say that Casey and Kowalski are trying to ape Gotham; they are doing something different, but the DNA is firmly there. And perhaps that is why the book can feel a little flat, because these are less interesting versions of characters the readers already identify with and enjoy.
But that is being hard on the book unjustly; there are plenty of good things to be found here, and once the story picks up, there will certainly be more to chew on. The first two issues of “Sex” give you a good understanding of the world in which the story takes place, and lay the groundwork for things to come. Casey and Kowalski both exhibit enough here to get excited about that it is easy to forgive the relative lightness of the first two issues.
Plus, there’s lots of sex.
Final Verdict: 6.8 – Getting someplace interesting – pick this up so you’re already in when it gets great.