Friday, 6 February 2015

Sex Criminals, Volume 2: Two Worlds, One Cop Review (Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky)

Suzie and Jon both have a special superpower: when they orgasm, they can stop time. Then they meet, fall in love, and decide to save Suzie’s library from foreclosure by the bank by robbing said bank of its filthy lucre! And so they ran like the sex criminals they were – in love, robbing the rich to give to the needy, and evading the sex police. A perfect ending!

Or it would’ve been if there wasn’t a Volume 2! 

The initial burst of romance is over and Suzie and Jon are settling into their new relationship just as Jon’s depression looms. They also didn’t steal as much as they thought but enough to keep the wolf from the door – for now – while the sex police, led by Kegelface herself, is still on their trail. And, as Suzie and Jon are about to discover, they are not alone and the world is full of people with unusual sex powers. The battle between the sex criminals and the sex police just got taken up a notch – brimp it on!

Tonally, the second volume of Sex Criminals is more of a downer than the first. Jon’s mental issues take over his life after he stops taking his medication and there’s more backstory exploring his confused and lonely childhood. Depression atrophies his relationship with Suzie who is going through her own problems, one of which is: does she love Jon or was it just a sex thing? This is the only sour note I had for this book and I love Suzie but what the hell – walking out on Jon when he needed her the most? What a shitty thing to do!

Sex Criminals has always been a character-driven series so it’s great that Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky are expanding their cast beyond Suzie and Jon to include some awesome new additions. There’s Robert Rainbow, Suzie’s OBGYN and coincidentally Jon’s childhood buddy; Rach, Suzie’s bestie who taught her about sex in a bathroom stall in high school (not really new but returning); and Ana Kincaid who’s led a really interesting life – she’s definitely the character you’ll remember the most from this book!

I also really liked Jon’s new psychiatrist, who, rather than throw pills at him, gives Jon some sound advice on his depression: exercise daily for 45 minutes and have a friend you can speak to. And that’s the other thing about Sex Criminals that’s so good: it’s full of useful, practical information about sensitive issues and handles them so well. Like when Suzie goes to see Robert Rainbow and he does a sexy striptease (albeit in her mind) while telling her about the various methods of birth control. Kids/teens reading this (and I’m sure there’s more than a few who do) can get all edumacated while enjoying an adult comic! No bathroom stall sketches for this generation! 

But it’s also lots and lots of fun to read and the humour keeps the mental/sexual health issues from overwhelming the generally light tone. There’s a lightsaber-ish fight with dildos, the sex police tracking device is ingeniously called a cumpass, there’s a fast food joint in the mall called Salad Cake – “Have you cake and eat salad too!”, and there’s an awesome The Wicked + The Divine porn parody, The Lick-ed + The Divine, featuring cameos from Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie! I also noticed for the first time how sexual the names of our characters are: Suzie Dickson, Jon Johnson, and Myrtle Spurge (Kegelface).

It is a grown-up book though so you do see T&A though never gratuitously and surprisingly, considering Ana’s chapter (her porn name WAS Jazmine St Cocaine!), it doesn’t feel sleazy either. Also, given that the approach to this volume is “the honeymoon is over”, it’s more about relationships after the initial frenzy of sex, and the more sporadic nature of it afterwards.

Suzie and Jon take the fight to the sex police though the story itself only progresses so far in this second volume – like I said, it’s about the characters than the plot itself, but the cast are so good you almost forget about it entirely! If you enjoyed the first book, you’ll love this one just as much. Fraction and Zdarsky continue to do great things with this original title - what a brilliant comic this is! 

And so we ran, like the Sex Criminals fans we are, onto the next volume!

Sex Criminals, Volume 2: Two Worlds, One Cop

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