[This review is FOR MATURE READERS. Duh.]
Oh Sex Criminals, you weird, addicting, sordid little tale. It’s been a while. We should hang out more, y’know? It’s just that… waiting months before hearing from you is hard. Don’t wait so long next time, okay?
In the issues between my last review and Sex Criminals #15, the plot hasn’t progressed much, but that all changes this week. The issue’s solicit blatantly states, “Kegal Face steals Jon’s files from his therapist,” so you can see how this is a big, huge, throbbing problem. However, though this development certainly occurs in Sex Criminals #15, the full ramifications are left for later. Which is frustrating, but leave it to Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky to give their audience a real case of blue balls.
Instead, this issue sees Jon and Suzie begin assessing their relationship outside of the whole ‘have sex, stop time, steal from banks’ pattern; Kegel Face reveals something akin to a heart beneath her cold and calculating demeanor; and Jon’s therapist finds himself pulled further into the developing sex conspiracy (a sexpiracy, if you will) surrounding the Sex Police and the shady business man who’s possibly behind it all.
Yet, what Sex Criminals #15 also does is spend more time than is really needed with its ancillary characters, Rachel and Robert. The two have recently begun a relationship, only to soon realize their sexual pasts are very, very different. Which wouldn’t be so much of a problem had Robert been upfront about his hangups from the get go, or if Rachel had perhaps not been as forward with how many partners she’s had in the early stages of getting to know one another.
Still, for as intriguing as it has been at times to see these two wrestle for a middle ground that’s comfortable, creating another unique though valid relationship to explore, in this issue that intrigue has run its course. With so much else happening – especially, the status of Jon and Suzie’s relationship which hangs over this issue, not to mention the act of Kegel Face’s psychosexual larceny – this interlude with Rachel and Robert feels unnecessary, stealing away precious pages from more pertinent matters.But even when Sex Criminals is spending time on subplots which aren’t advancing the main narrative, it is still brimming with clever gags (dick jokes) and witty banter (more dick jokes). Beyond its delectable use of perverse humor – which has been its charm from the onset – the characters of Sex Criminals are so fully realized that Fraction and Zdarsky can have characters who have only just met fall in step with one another through black panels of white text simply telling us this happens. Lazy? Maybe. Deadlines? More likely. But it keeps the story moving, and by now, the meta nature of Sex Criminals has become only another fundamental element of the series.
Fraction’s prose are as hilarious as they are salacious, but it’s in Zdarsky’s artwork that the jokes land. Reading something funny doesn’t have nearly the same impact as reading it accompanied by a shocked expression or deflated posture. The layouts, too, sell the comedy, creating quick cuts in the action or parallel images to milk as much humor from a situation as possible, no matter how inappropriate it may be for polite company.
Fifteen issues in (of which I’ve reviewed three) and there’s only so much praise I can continue to lob at Sex Criminals. It’s a ridiculously clever and amusing series about sex and relationships, unafraid to go there and do that, making us return for more and more.