Review: “Sex Criminals #5” Kegelface’s Refrain

w) Matt Fraction a) Chip Zdarsky $3.50 Image Comics
w) Matt Fraction
a) Chip Zdarsky
$3.50
Image Comics

“Sex Criminals #5” marks the end of the first volume; a five-issue arc that felt like an ongoing achievement in comic books as much as it did a thrill-filled ride full of sex, dirty jokes, wise-cracks, butt-cracks, and time manipulation. Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky have put Suzie and Jon into a precarious position and we finally see how their ill-fated robbery and the intervention of the Others in white plays out. In real time, this is merely a matter of seconds. Maybe thirty seconds; a minute, tops. But before any of that, we need some answers. What the hell happened with Jon? What is with these other people in white, and how did they know where the two of them would be? In due time, all of this will be made clear. Sort of.

Just in case you haven’t been reading Sex Criminals, do not fear; as always, the “Previously” page does a hilarious job of catching any new readers up to speed via the form of a few irreverent limericks. After that, we open on Jon waking up, disoriented and soiled. Suzie is cuffed against his back and the Sex Police have them in their custody. Without spoiling much, we see how the two of them are potentially able to escape their current situation via some bondage play between the two sex criminals with their gun, Mister Colt .69. It is a vibrator that stays with them in The Quiet and it also looks like a gun, so it is perfect for both business and pleasure. All in the name of training for the big robbery.

During a dry-run or, “undressed rehearsal,” we see that during all of their time preparing at the bank before the actual robbery, a woman with an unmistakably kegel-ish face is also there with them. Is she frozen in The Quiet with the rest of the people in the bank? Suzie doesn’t know for sure, but she is getting a bad feeling about things. When she goes to tell Jon about it, we find out that Lover Boy likes to bless his boss’s office plant with a daily dose of free fertilizer. It is a WTF moment for the ages and it sheds new light on a guy, who despite his flaws, we are all so fond of.

Well, folks, Jon isn’t as stable as we thought he was. His lust for life and rebellious nature is actually a serious case of ADHD mixed with a large dose of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. “Bing it. It’s a thing. It’s a bingable thing,” says Jon.  My new word of the day is: comorbidity. He tries to explain himself to Suzie, but by attempting to justify going off of his prescribed medication, he comes off as lost, as in denial and confused. It is the first time that I felt, as a reader, that Jon might be very deeply disturbed. He goes on to tell tales of his nightmarish boss and how he is treated like dirt. But his behavior as a result of that doesn’t nearly seemed justified. Does anyone really deserve a turd in their plant? No, it rather feels like a child having a temper tantrum, over and over again in the grossest way possible.

In the middle of his rationalization marathon to Suzie, Jon is interrupted by the same woman that we saw earlier at the bank. She confronts them directly about their intentions to rob Jon’s bank. She says that they should stop what they are planning now and learn to behave like adults. But, how could she possibly know this? Could there really be other people like them? Of course there could be other people like them. They really are blinded by their love for one another. The arrogance of it all is finally falling in their laps and the people watching them aren’t just like them, they can also make kegelfaces and disappear right before your very eyes. They have magical sexy parts! Suzie and Jon have magical sexy parts, too. But, they can’t control them, willy-nilly like that. They don’t have that kind of power and that scares them.

But all of this doesn’t seem to slow Jon down one bit. He might be an unstable man-child, but, Jon is a natural charmer. Suzie adores him and he tells her exactly what she needs to hear, in regards to his lack of medication and diagnosed mental disorders. He tells her that they make him feel dead inside, in more ways than one. So a person could understand why he might not want to take the pills. Maybe you’ve been there before. That’s what makes his flaws so forgivable. Jon really is a messed up, klutzy, yet sympathetic guy. We can see a part of ourselves in him and so can Suzie.

Once the dust settles, Suzie is instantly confronted by Rachel about her plans. She doesn’t know what Suzie is up to, specifically, but something is going on. Avoiding another confrontation all together, Suzie leaves, only for Rachel to snitch on her to who I will only refer to as Kegelface. Instead of spending time with her rat of a roommate, Suzie ends up at the library; the whole reason she’s involved in this crazy scheme. It is there that she gets a reminder of why she’s going through all of this trouble: a young girl who needs her help on a school project that could get her a chance to meet The President. A young version of her, Suzie thinks. It warms her heart and it grounds this issue on a whole in one scene. Yes, this entire thing is absurd. Even the hook of, “save the library” could feel haggard. But the execution of a cliche, when done perfectly, demonstrates what made those things cliches in the first place. Basically, when it works, it works.

So where were we?  In the back of the car with the Sex Police. Right. So, in the middle of Jon’s rock bottom moment, his girlfriend decides to be the bad-ass. The Sex Police have her gun / vibrator / Mister Colt .69 and in a flash, she grabs it out of their hands. In the struggle that ensues, one of them accidentally trips the vibrator function on the gun and that sends everyone but Jon and Suzie into The Quiet. Where the weirdos in white were going to take the two lovers is a mystery. But Suzie has their little white cell phone, now. And they also have a chance to get the heck out of there; which they happily take.

From here, this story could go anywhere. It could choose to stay on a small, intimate level like the first volume has, focusing solely on one event and how it all played out. Or, it could choose to take a step back and examine a world where there are lots of people who know about The Quiet. Both sound interesting and in the hands of this creative team, I would follow them wherever they decide to go. But as for now, we won’t hear from Jon or Suzie until June. Maybe stock up on lotion until then.

Verdict:

This book has maintained a level of quality that we are coming to expect from both the creative team and the publisher on a whole. After five issues, I can say that I have enjoyed the ride, but I have to make a few things clear. I do think that this relationship is dysfunctional. Yeah, the two people love each other. But come on. Suzie is willing to forgive Jon of just about anything in the name of love and Jon just wants what he wants. He loves Suzie, too. But, I can’t help but feel that this is a one-way relationship, in terms of sacrifice. Everything that they went through is because Jon felt slighted at work and he found a way to co-opt Suzie’s plight with the library into his plan. On top of that, Jon has a screw loose and he isn’t addressing it. It doesn’t bode well and I hope it doesn’t continue to be the pattern for this book.  But, do you see what is happening here? This book made me care this much about the two people it centers on. Between the imaginative and original art and the hilarious and touching writing, this book made me care. I am hooked. Totally and completely. June can not come soon enough, people.

“Sex Criminals #5” greases it’s way to a loveable, yet flawed 9.5/10

Mike Sains

Mike Sains is a Writer, Interviewer, and the Editor of the Reviews Department for Capeless Crusader as well as other outlets online. He is also a podcaster and an avid collector of vinyl records and collectibles.

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