It's all over. Kuber Badal is dead... but Susie is too. Everyone is grieving in their own way, but Jon is taking it particularly hard.
So, that's the end, right?
Grief is a natural process when processing death. There are any number of healthy and unhealthy ways of processing one’s grief, but ultimately, it is part of the human condition. For Jon, of course, this means methodically destroying every single thing in Kuber Badal’s palatial mansion. In her narration, says he calls this his “obsessive-destruction disorder.” To whit, he has so many pent-up emotional frustrations inside, the only way he can properly express them is through destruction. All except Badal’s massive personal library, which he preserves in honor of Susie’s memory:
(However, he does take the time to systematically write, “This book stolen from a real asshole named Kuber Badal” in every single one of them.)
Sex Criminals has, from the start, been a hard book to pin down. Is it a comedy? A crime yarn? A sex romp? A subtle and complex look at two people with heavy psychological baggage falling in love? (Massive shipping gaps have undoubtedly impacted a front-to-back understanding of it, too – this is a comic that’s shipped only twenty-nine issues in six and a half years. That’s a bit unfair, but undeniable.) In the end – with just one more issue to go – it’s indeed all of those things. Yet in the final sprint, it’s also become something else: a deep-dive into a troubled man unable to properly express his emotions floundering to cope with his grief.
There are some other plot points, such as the disappearance of the Quiet, and the public fallout for BankCorp in the wake of Kuber Badal’s explosive ending last issue. But these are really more to keep the overarching macro-plot moving, and aren’t explored with much depth. The real meat of this story is Jon’s psychological breakdown, and the step-by-step massacre of Badal’s estate. Jon doesn’t just break in there and break stuff. He destroys every single usable item in there: clothes slashed, wiring pulled out of walls, toilet smashed, watches stomped. Jon’s rampage goes on for a full twenty-six hours before he’s arrested, but the orderly nature of minimum-security prison creates a kind of sedate release for him. It’s a fascinating and sometimes uncomfortable look at a full-on psychological breakdown, largely crafted by Chip Zdarsky in symmetrical eight-panel grids, giving exacting equal emphasis with each defiant act of destruction. It’s compulsively readable, and brilliantly executed.
Whatever Sex Criminals‘ final assessment may be once it’s all said and done, issue twenty-nine should be remembered as a a watershed moment of brilliance. Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky are one of the most unique partnerships in all of comics, and once it’s concluded, it will be a sad day to see their bizarre, heartfelt masterpiece go.
Sex Criminals #29 takes a deep and methodical look at coping with grief - and creates a minor masterpiece in the process.
Sex Criminals #29: The Art of Grieving and Other Such Tools of Self-Destruction
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 9.5/109.5/10
Art - 8.5/108.5/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 7/107/10
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