I knew when I began reading this issue of Sex Criminals I was in for an interesting ride. It’s not your normal story. Well, it’s not what people expect, especially if they’re not immersed in the comic book culture. In fact I’ve had two people ask me about the story so far, and I found it’s not the easiest thing to explain without getting questioning looks. I actually had one person ask me if I was sure it wasn’t fan fiction. I assured them that it is in fact a real comic. I also explained that Matt Fraction was a talented and well-known writer. Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky have created a book that grabs the attention of readers. This issue was no exception.
In this issue Fraction breaks the fourth wall and has Jon telling the story directly to us. It’s an anecdotal flashback that gives us a glimpse of what he’s experienced since we left him in issue five. We get to see the nuances of a growing relationship. Their ups and downs are on full display. Thanks to this approach Jon and Suzie finally feel like relatable characters to me. I attribute this to part of the reason why the book is more appealing. I like when characters have some humanity; when they’re more than just a person on a page. They have dimension and could easily be the couple that lives down the street. Jon and Suzie have real jobs and real problems that everyone experiences. We also get to see Suzie play the compassionate girlfriend willing to help when needed. The other part of my enjoyment was due to the fact that I found this book pretty funny. I found myself laughing throughout at little things like “ass-illuminati.” It doesn’t really have anything to do with the story, but I love that Fraction decided to put it in. It helps break up the seriousness of what’s actually going on at the time.
Chip Zdarsky keeps with the simple layouts from the past issues and I appreciate that, a lot. His line work is clean. It almost makes me forget that there are no borders. That honestly bothered me for awhile, but I’m over it now. The panels tell the story so well you get a sense of what’s happening in correlation to the story. Zdarsky adds detail where necessary to make an environment feel real. I found myself looking at background items because some were pretty entertaining. I also really liked the way Zdarsky’s art reminded me that Jon was telling the story by adding him in panels, only grayscale against the color. My favorite aspect when it comes to the art is the panels where they enter “Cumworld” as Jon chooses to refer to it. The colors are amazing and a nice contrast to the rest of the book. There’s almost a sense of euphoria in the choice of colors and little details that make them interesting. Granted the story doesn’t always match that feeling. I can’t imagine these being easy panels to tackle for Becka Kinzie, who does the color flatting in this book. This did however lead to me researching color flatting for about half an hour. Apparently, this is a process I’ve used in the past and just never knew what it was called.
It’s taken me a while to warm up to Sex Criminals. I enjoyed the previous issues, but I wasn’t hooked. This issue changed the way I view the book. My issues weren’t due to the art or the writing, I just found the story to be a little odd. I still do, but it intrigues me now. That’s probably why I keep going back to it. I want to know more about Jon and Suzie, and their experiences. I want to know what type of trouble they may get into and who they’ll meet along the way.
While this is definitely a book for mature readers; I would recommend that others read it simply because it is such a unique story. I would also recommend that you have a sense of humor when it comes to sex. If you don’t, this book may come off as highly inappropriate.