Review by Frank Plowright
The first volume of Sex Criminals was very entertaining, and this is even better. It’s the work of a writer on top of his game having a lot of fun, matched with an expressive artist equally enjoying himself. Okay, some of the humour is puerile, but it’s very funny, and it’s still joyful to see sex treated so matter of factly in an American graphic novel.
There’s not as much of it as there was in One Weird Trick, partially because Jon and Suzie’s relationship has hit that awkward slight cooling as the hormones calm down a little and they begin taking stock. Part of the problem is that Jon’s off his medication, and while his conditions aren’t life threatening, they impact on a full enjoyment of all life has to offer. Meds also play a part in Suzie’s diminished activity, as going on the pill comes at a price for some women.
They can still both access the zone where all around them remain motionless, but since the discovery of a trio who’ve taken it upon themselves to police this region, they have to be more circumspect. Jon, though, sparks a problem, which has one major detrimental effect in the real world, and one unexpected bonus in the discovery of files about others who share their ability. Suzie’s initially not happy that one of them is the porn actress over whom a younger Jon obsessed.
Matt Fraction’s roundabout storytelling method is ambitious, but confidently executed, with the start of a chapter not necessarily picking up immediately where the preceding one concluded, yet working it’s way back via flashbacks or chance meetings. The cast is expanded with someone known to Jon of old, and how that impacted his life at the time is a notable diversion.
Chip Zdarsky delights in plastering his backgrounds with whimsical signs that flow into the book’s theme (check out the bookshop), and he characterises the cast well. He’s particularly adept at the knowing glance, a useful technique in a graphic novel where the cast address the readers directly.
Just in case the previous paragraphs haven’t made it clear, anyone likely to be offended by representations of sex and sexual paraphernalia should stay well clear. This isn’t an erotic graphic novel, but it is a graphic graphic novel.
The bonus elements of the book include a hilariously obscene interview with the two creators, and a comprehensive and equally diverting section of sex tips. That’s very redolent of Britain’s Viz Comic, but it’s new to American material. Sex Criminals continues with Three the Hard Way.
This is also available combined with One Weird Trick as the first Big Hard Sex Criminals.