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When news first broke of Matt Fraction's new book Sex Criminals, I thought it was some dramedy about child abuse or a superhero satire based around a super villain with the uncanny ability to steal people's genitalia (wait that's gold! I call dibs! Issue #1: Night of the Boner Burgler). Turns out, it's the simple story of a couple who happen to be bank robbers. Who ALSO happen to be able to stop time with their orgasms. See? An easy mistake to make.
So, yes, the premise is a bit weird, but it's also pretty original. Which leaves us with the question: did this turn out to be a refreshing sex-themed comedy or just a poor excuse to show some bone zonin' in the form of sequential art. LET'S FIND OUT!
20 something Suzie acts as narrator in the story of young Suzie. She's a normal girl from a troubled home. A dead dad, a mom who lives at the bottom of a bottle because of said dead dad. But she's optimistic and soon things start looking up. That is, until she accidently stops time one day in the tub.
Eventually we catch up to 20 something Suzie who's trying to save a library as well as avoiding any chronal-coital activities. But then she meet John. The man o' her dreams. He seems so perfect. They talk. They laugh. They love. Then they realize they both have time-stopping-down-there-parts. WHAT A MEET CUTE!
Oh and it's bookended by a bank robbery, if that's what you're into, I guess.
So baisically this
Artist Chip Zdarksy makes good on his claim of making the pages colorful and fun. It's a cheerful book, one that encourages you to soak in the art. The expressive faces work to enhance the comedy, and in a book like this that's essential. It's also interesting to try and pick out little details hidden in the more detailed artwork, i.e a school poster with Kermit the Frog declaring 'Reading is Sexy'. Read that in his voice. Yesssss.
It's also cool how everyone is drawn more or less like real people. In a medium reknown for supermodels, both ladies and dudes, everywhere it adds to the book's unique feel.
I can't speak to the experience of a girl's sexual awakening, but this seems like an honest portrayal, or as close as Matt Fraction can get. Sure, it's got silly comedic touches, but there's real depth in the book.
And that's what I liked the most, I think. Sex Criminals gets a lot heavier than a book named Sex Criminals has any reason to. At it's core, or in this issue at least, it's about a girl trying to reach out to others. Emotionally, physically. She's lost and no one seems to be able to really help. Until she meets her John, who may or may not really be there to help either (we'll how the series goes).
It's more than hilarious O Faces and zingers (there are plenty of both). It's an honest, character-centric story that just happens to be about time-stopping bang bandits.
This is a recommend, but only for mature audiences only. Obviously. There are some pretty funny parts, some good emotional beats, and some shway art to behold. It's deeper than you'd first suspect, so you can tell people you're reading it for the plot and actually mean it! This time.