Updated: Mar 9
Disclaimer: This review-op will be addressing events that have taken place in Sex Criminals issues 1-13. If you haven’t read the latest issue and/or don’t like spoilers, I’d suggest reading another blog & getting caught up. Vols I and II, along with issues 11-13, are available in stores & shops.- FxJB
On a random excursion into Carmine Street Comics after work several moons ago, I was searching the shelves for a non-superhero story to read; a certain title on the shelf caught my eye: SEX CRIMINALS. “Sex Criminals?”, I thought. “What in the blue hell could that POSSIBLY BE ABOUT??". I read the back cover to see what I was getting’ myself into, and the plot is thus:
26-yr-old Suzie Dickson (HAHAHAHAHA! *snort*), owner of a library facing foreclosure from the bank, has a gift or curse (depending how you look at it): when she has an orgasm, time stops.
One night, while holding a fundraising rent party with her roommate Rachel, Suzie meets an actor/personal assistant named Jon. After hitting it off and sleeping with each other, it turns out Jon has the very same gift/curse as Suzie. So what do two people do, when they find out they’re not alone & have such a unique thing in common?
They become bank robbers, have lots of sex, run afoul of the Sex Police (no, not the GOP), & discover that their special world isn’t as small as they once thought.
Writer Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky take the reader on a fun, interesting, insightful, and sexy ride into the lives of Suzie and Jon. Discovering their shared ability as puberty, Suzie & Jon’s respective adolescences are contrasting mirrors of how the average American man and woman learn about sex, and the reader sees the sexual tendencies and associations acquired & internalized into adulthood. I often found myself empathizing with Suzie when I think back on my own sexual awakening (or lack of) when I was younger, and thinking about the patriarchal mores that I navigated and internalized: disliking and being disconnected from one’s body and that feeling sexual pleasure was dirty and wrong for girls…but nevertheless seeking it anyway. I feel for Suzie when she felt conflicted about touching herself (although for HER it was about more than merely doing something only “dirty girls” do), and was glad when she made the brave choice of learning whatever she could about sex while facing blocks at every turn.
Nobody escapes patriarchal upbringings unscathed though, as you see from how Suzie talks about her more "promiscuous" friend & roommate Rachel, as well as the jokes she cracks about Jon’s favorite porn star, Jazmine St. Cocaine (YES, THAT WAS HER STAGE NAME!). Meanwhile, Jon didn’t have such hurdles to leap over as a young boy, and learned to use his special gift to maximum advantage, seeing what he could get away with doing while time was frozen, and discovering how/when time would go back to normal and he’d be taken out of “Cumworld”. This again brings home not only how Jon and Suzie approach their gifts, but sex altogether, thanks to societal conditioning.
And together, they decide to start robbing banks in order to keep Suzie's library from closing, and in doing so, they discover that there are others who have the same gifts that monitor and police them: The Sex Police. Suzie & Jon's relationship also goes through what most ppl do: ups, downs, plateaus, break-ups and, make-up, thanks to the Sex Police burning down Suzie’s beloved library. Now, Suzie and Jon are on a quest to find others like them, learn more about their abilities, and take down the Sex Police. On their merry adventure, they meet others like them, like:
Jon’s fave porn star-turned-college professor
A momma’s boy orderly for a nursing home with a serious Sailor Moon-La Blue Girl tentacle hentai fetish
In issue 13, we’re introduced to our first asexual character who’s gifted like Suzie and Jon, though she experiences going into “The Quiet” via freefalling, not through sex. The inclusion of characters of all sexual orientations, sexes, genders, and tastes makes Sex Criminals even that more interesting, as well as getting to the heart of what makes people tick sexually, as well as what inhibits people.
Which brings us back to Suzie.
After she and Jon dueling with Sailor Jupitentacler Hentai monster in issue 12, Suzie was left wondering why her sex gift didn’t manifest in some 3 dimensional way, and it could be because of whatever sexual hangups she still has internalized. So, I’m REALLY looking forward to issue 14, because it looks like that will be the focus of that issue…or it COULD be, if Suzie and Professor St Cocaine don’t kill each other first.
All in all, Sex Criminals is a fun romp of a series, and I highly recommend it! Here's to hoping it’ll be greenlit for a TV series. Putting myself out there: Mr. Fraction, if you don’t mind racebending Suzie, I could play her! But only if y’all can get Lee Pace to be Jon!
Until issue 14!