The other day I was catching up with a cousin I hadn’t seen in months (ie talking over videogames and coconut water because we’re classy guys). I told him and our other friends about Sex Criminals, working on delivering a concise description of its premise. “Its about a man and woman who stop time when they orgasm, and they rob places when they do.” They received that information with great interest, and even though that pitch had convinced some of them to check out the comic, I think it does Matt Fraction and Chip Zdasrky’s work a disservice. While I enjoyed the first arc’s introduction to Jon and Suzie as well as its funny and irreverent tone, I don’t think I would’ve kept on reading had it not been for the second arc’s fantastic portrayal of a relationship following its initial thrill. Still excited from the conclusion of that arc, I came in to #11 expecting the same gut-wrenching story-telling and thrilling world building and got that, plus a boost of the first arc’s zaniness. If this issue is any indication, we’re in for full on zaniness with probably emotional turmoil on the horizon. Things open up this third arc by introducing readers to Douglas, a self-described regular guy who takes care of his mom and works at a home for the elderly during the day. Its not apparent what Douglas has to do with our sex criminals until an eerie panel bridges us back to Jon and Suzie. After meeting Jon’s childhood crush, former porn actress Ana “Jazmine St. Cocaine” Kinkaid, and stealing the Sex Police’s files on other people who have similar orgasm-related abilities, Jon and Suzie head off to Miami to find Douglas, one of the people on the list. First though, they have sex near some ATM’s and steal some cash to finance their trip. We also drop in on Robert Rainbow and Rachelle as well as Jon’s psychiatrist and Myrtle (head of the sex police), each pair doing their thing in comfy-looking beds.
I really loved that right from the start of this arc, Fraction and Zdarsky are already working towards fleshing out the world and cast of Sex Criminals. Fraction does a great job of providing Douglas’s narration a uniquely humble and kind voice while maintaining the same level of humor and charm exhibited by Jon and Suzie. Although it’s unclear how large of a role Douglas will play in the next few issues, I’m definitely interested in seeing how a person more introverted or less traditionally attractive employs their orgasm-related powers. While I appreciated the drop-in on the other supporting characters, it felt like a bit of waste of space to look in on Rachelle and Robert Rainbow since their page didn’t have any relevance to the plot nor are they captivating individuals who work well when not paired with our zanier leads.
While this issue had its share of funny moments, I didn’t find myself laughing out loud as I have in other issues. Despite all the intimacy in this issue, there wasn’t any of the awkward humor that I enjoyed a lot in the series’ earliest issues. However, Zdarsky still does wonders at inserting a few visual gags throughout such as giving us a page of smaller panels that give the impression of a Miami montage only to show in the next page that the images were all just pictures from a magazine Suzie reads on the flight there. The early artless panels where Fraction interjects and tells us to imagine the panels Zdasrky could have drawn was cute, but it ultimately just made me wish that Zdasrky had actually illustrated those panels. The funniest running joke though comes in the audiobook that Douglas listens to in his car.
Currently, I have no idea where things are gonna head for our characters in this arc and that’s just the way I want things. Given how dark and intimate the last arc was, I’m hoping that Zdasrky and Fraction continue to play with the tone of the series. My personal hope right now is that the arc culminates in an Oceans Eleven-type heist that sees Jon and Suzie lead a gaggle of sex criminals on a caper against the sex police. However, I’m certain that Fraction and Zdasrky have something much more ingenious in mind.
Sex Criminals #11 Writer: Matt Fraction Artist: Chip Zdasrky Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.50 Release Date: 7/29/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital