Sex Criminals #21 featured Reviews 

“Sex Criminals” #21

By | January 25th, 2018
Posted in Reviews | % Comments

Come, gather ye round Brimpers, for “Sex Criminals” has returned. Assume a comfortable position in which to enjoy this comic for Fraction and Zdarsky will manage to find your comedic G-spot. It’s been six months (five months, 22 days in non-comic time but who’s counting) since our sexual criminal duo have split. Jon has a nice new beard. Other stuff happens too. Read on for our review which contains spoilers.

Cover by Chip Zdarsky

Written by Matt Fraction
Illustrated by Chip Zdarsky

Up is down and black is white and the sex isn’t happening—neither is the crime. WHAT IS THIS BOOK EVEN? After the heartbreaking, albeit totally unsurprising, finale of FOURGY!, our leads find themselves in the arms of others while the fate of the whole universe hangs in the balance…ish!

Take a look at the cover of ‘Spaces.’ Jon and Suzie float fetus-like in the void. They’ve regressed in their separation, scrounging for meaning and pleasure. There’s a space between them, it’s thin but it’s most certainly there. The first chapter of ‘Five-Fingered Discount’ reintroduces us to the main characters and the new spaces they inhabit. Most of the big changes happened in the intervening time jump, so no one is quite where we last left them. They’ve moved on or pretended to. Spaces, voids, holes. Call them what you will, but their presence is palpable in this issue. At the center of it all is the growing rift between Jon and Suzie as they acclimatize to lives with less fulfilling sex and zero crime. But it’s fine. Really. Everything’s fine.

Jon’s spending all his time in Cumworld these days, but not the one where time freezes. He shares space with a new roommate, but their relationship isn’t entirely clear. Suzie has . . . Geoff, a true personification of space, and it’s heartbreaking to witness how empty a relationship can be. Despite sharing the same panel space, they couldn’t be further apart. Geoff’s more in love with hearing his own words than having an actual conversation. His word balloons take up so much space that the panel fails to contain them. In one panel, as Geoff heads for the exit door, he appears to lose resolution. His colors are muted, and a literal EXIT sign hangs above his head. Their relationship is already over, but he doesn’t know it yet.

There’s the old space Suzie’s mom recreates in her new home like a museum of years past. And, let’s not forget, there’s her private space (delta of Venus) she explores with her friends. Dewey moves into an undercover space in a plot to take down Kegelface Myrtle Spurge. Apparently, Spurge still occupies space in Dr. Glass’s head and vice-versa. There’s the fantasy space Dr. Glass explores using Dr. Kincaid, perhaps achieving nothing more than his adolescent wish fulfillment. And finally, there’s the art gallery space, where Jon and Suzie coincidentally meet up, eyeing each other from across the room. It’s Halloween and they’ve both confused “fancy dress” from “fancy dress-up” in their Sgt. Popper’s Bonely Hearts Chub Band (or is it Freddie Mercury?) costumes. Their identical, bright yellow attire immediately highlights them on the page, pulling them together despite their distance apart. Methinks their breakup is not long for this world.

It’s telling that the only space the Quiet (aka CumWorld) inhabits is in the past. Time doesn’t need to freeze with this new normal in place. Orgasms are scarce this issue (except for Professor Dicktweed himself, Geoff). Why slow anything down when life drones on, vacuous and without color? When “Everything is so totally fucked,” time can’t pass soon enough. The Quiet only appears in a one-panel flashback of Jon and Suzie’s bank robbery sex. It’s used to contrast against Suzie and Geoff’s less than satisfactory style of intercourse. Great sex can last an eternity. Geoff sex ends before you can say “nnNGNGGGGGGOOOOOOOOOO.”

It’s been said before, but Fraction and Zdarsky were truly fated to create “Sex Criminals” together. Their style and humor so perfectly align that it often feels like there’s a single creator behind the scenes. Their comedy continues after the issue proper in “Letter Daddies,” perhaps the longest and funniest letters column in comics. Nine whole pages of so-called “Sex Tips” and reader anecdotes make the $3.99 price tag even more of a bargain.

Continued below

As per usual, Zdarsky is on top of his game. The “actors” he photographs to adequately capture characters’ body language and expressions go a long way to elevate the humor. It’s especially priceless seeing Suzie’s flabbergasted reaction to her mother’s newfound sexual exploration. The detail he injects into every panel is often staggering—even if some of the text is intelligible (or was it just my review copy?). Panels are chockablock with jokes from sexually punny cereal boxes to Cumworld’s air fresheners. It’s this dedication to such concentrated humor—no matter how tangential or ludicrous—that makes this comic the funniest on the stands.

Zdarksy’s background jokes corner:

Raisin’ Bran: the only GOT cereal
MetricDick / StandardHard
Chokemon Blow!
A bit much – unless that’s your thing
It’s Beer
Crazy Like a Box
Lube Laugh Love
6 items or 9
The Uptoyour Arms
Joseph Pornell: A Bird in the Handjob

Final Verdict: 8.8 – After last issue’s cataclysmic breakup, new spaces are explored (yes, even those spaces). Laughgasms are to be had in an issue that’s as humorous as it is emotionally devastating.

Matt Sadowski

Matt is from Chicago but is currently living a curious existence in Xiamen, China. He can be found on Twitter as @mattrsadowski