Sex Criminals Vol. 1: One Weird Trick (Image) - Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Monday, September 23rd, 2019  

Sex Criminals Vol. 1: One Weird Trick

Image

Written by Matt Fraction, Art by Chip Zdarsky

May 14, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Quite possibly one of the most talked-about series currently ongoing, Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky's Sex Criminals tells the story of two people who can stop time with their orgasms. And then they rob banks. Yes. You read that correctly.

But the reason for all the talk is that it's one of the first mainstream comic books to really treat sex in any kind of realistic way—the sex in Sex Criminals is funny, it's awkward, it's wonderful, it's gross, it's meaningful, it's explosive, it's connecting, it's powerful. Basically, it's sex. Which is remarkable—there aren't many instances in popular media that actually dare to tackle sex in all of its wonderful and confusing contradictory terms.

The narrative stars Suzie, a girl who discovers she can stop time when she orgasms (something she calls "The Quiet"), and how she eventually meets Jon, someone who has the same ability (though he calls his time-stopping period, um, "Cumworld"). Their relationship serves as a metaphor for having sex with someone you care about and you connect with—you know, sex that seems to stop time.

Don't worry, though: Fraction and Zdarsky aren't interested in hammering home that point. They're much too interested in cramming as many dirty jokes and four-letter words into the pages of their comic. In fact, sometimes it can be a little too much—when something makes the average Judd Apatow affair seem prudish, you know it borders on over-the-top. This is particularly noticeable in the numerous scenes set in a porn shop—Fraction and Zdarsky clearly relished the opportunity to try to gross one another out with the graphic descriptions and/or drawings, but it can be too gross. Some of the sight gags are funny at first, but once you've seen one vagina-themed homegood, the effect wears.

Fortunately, there are also moments of surprising tenderness that cut through the raunch. Suzie discovers Jon battles a particular type of mental illness, and her response is extraordinarily thoughtful. Neither of them is quite sure what to do with sex that actually means something to either of them, and that tension makes their interactions more than physical. Even a sign outside the porn shop ("Everything you need to be happy, I guess") reveal this comic to be more than dirty jokes and NSFW pictures.

Overall, your enjoyment of Sex Criminals will completely depend on your ability to tolerate humor that relishes its juvenile bawdiness. There are certainly some excellent themes here, and the comic deserves all the credit it's gotten for portraying a realistic version of sex. And though they never say it, it's clear the characters are falling in love, becoming vulnerable to each other in ways beyond a hookup—that's the beating heart of Sex Criminals. (www.imagecomics.com/comics/series/sex-criminals)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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