The End, Part 1
***WARNING! GROWN-UP LANGUAGE AND THEMES AHEAD!***
The end is here! At long last, Suzy, John, and their assorted band of various sex criminals are about to embark on the takedown of a lifetime. But... is it too much? Too far?
But amidst that thorny ethical dilemma, Suzy is having not only doubts of her own, but also bizarre visions that may or may not be of the future. In taking down Badal and BankCorp, though, is this band of sexual merry men about to cause something much, much worse to occur?
Sex Criminals, one of the funniest, sharpest, most endlessly inventive, honestly romantic, risque comics of the past decade is back for one last orgy of fun. It’s been eighteen months since the previous issue, but the creative team of Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky haven’t lost a step. Never mind the fact that the latter has become a creative toast of the town in his own writerly right. Never mind that Fraction has gradually evolved from an A-list Marvel Young Gun to a niche writer with a selective audience. When these two get together to create, all bets are off. And readers – assuming they can get past the bawdy humor to see the heart and byzantine storytelling beneath – are the winners.
There’s a lot to digest this issue, particularly for the uninitiated. Long, convoluted story short: When Suzy has sex and climaxes, time freezes around her. The same thing happens for John, and when these two find one another and fall in love, they embark on a mission to rob the bank that bought the bank Suzy worked at and subsequently demolish it. Gradually, they met others with odd abilities tied to sex and sex acts. Oh, and there are sex police, too. One of whom is nicknamed Kagelface.
Yes, this is that kind of comic.
However, between all of these sexy and occasionally icky shenanigans, there’s a real story about two people falling in love. And one of those people (John) has mental illness that he may or may not be managing well. That’s Sex Crimz‘ dirtiest little secret: it’s actually really sweet and emotionally, psychologically deep. That said, this issue, in which Suzy and John are learning how to be together again after reconnecting from their painful breakup, brings several new layers to their dynamic.
Suzy fears she may be reeling from un-dealt-with trauma, brought on initially by her own mother’s lack of empathy when she was a child coping with her father’s abandonment. Before she can even begin to process that nugget, she begins having flash-forward visions foreshadowing some sort of doom if they proceed with their plan to take down Badal of BankCorp. Both these things are messing with her head, and threatening to undo their gang’s carefully laid-out plan. But there’s also this: they’re going to completely destroy a man’s life, because BankCorp is too big to take on, so their point man, Badal, must suffice. Can they go through with their plan? Does Suzy really have what it takes to ruthlessly destroy a man, no matter how despicable he is? These type of ethical questions permeate the narrative, threatening to undo the story just as the third act approaches.
A good half of the issue is just Suzy and John talking, and talking through Suzy’s fears. To the uninitiated, this might sound unbelievably dull. But these moments are where Sex Criminals truly shines: human connections, and the little, stupid moments between two people who love each other that couldn’t possibly be replicated anywhere else.
It’s also a relentlessly funny comic, generally speaking. This issue is pretty serious, though, and Fraction cleverly breaks the fourth wall to address that fact for a page. That’s another of this comic’s best-kept secrets: a wicked sense of self-acknowledgement from the creators.
Sex Criminals isn’t for everyone. That much is a given. But it’s a remarkably versatile comic, full of inventiveness and a sense of self unmatched by any other book on the stands. And it’s weird as hell. But damn is it great to have it back.
Sex Criminals #26 sees the long-dormant indie darling return, and in fine form. If you've never given this book a shot, go back and get caught up ASAP! And if you're a lapsed reader, frustrated with its many delays in shipping - now's the time to come home.
Sex Criminals #26: The Beast With Two Backs is Back!
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 8.5/108.5/10
Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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