Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Wednesday Review: Bring on the Sex Criminals

Sex Criminals 1 by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky
New today from Image
I hadn't the slightest clue what to expect about Sex Criminals 1 from Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. I knew the title, that bloody genius possibly misleading title; I knew that a bunch of creators whose work I love have enjoyed the first issue; and I know Fraction and Zdarsky did a ton of interviews about it in every corner of the internet, none of which I read. Now I have a solid idea what Sex Criminals is and what I can grokk about it is brilliant-touching-sexy-cool.

Suzie tells the story of her adolescence in flashback. One horrible day in the mid-1990s, a coked out disgruntled employee marched into the bank her father worked at and randomly killed him. Losing her father at such a young and formative age would be traumatic enough. Her mother would get lost in sadness and alcohol, and so she lost her, too. And right as she was losing her parents, she began to find her sexuality. Those perfunctory changes we all go through are hard and weird and confusing enough, more so when we have no guidance or frame of reference, yet even more so when your orgasms can stop time. Actually stop the actual flow of actual time.

Suzie would find a home in libraries, and would grow up and go through the normal trials of teenagehood and adulthood and then her favorite library was about to be closed down by the bank, always the goddamn banks shitting on her life in their own way (in all our lives in their own way). So she threw a fundraiser and at the fundraiser she meets Jon, and Jon's not her first boyfriend, but there's been no-one else quite like him. And then they discover something about eachother and here the title of the comic finally comes into play on the last page. Jon and Suzie aren't sex criminals as much as (maybe) criminals who use sex as... well, you'll have to read it.

And you should read it. Zdarsky's art is pitch-perfect throughout. The sequences set in the past are whimsical and elegant and the sequences in the present are sharp and emotional. The story Fraction weaves - and especially the character work - are all frankly astonishing. He finds the balance between sexual coming of age and the depths of loss and the heights of love and being a kid and being an adult and everything in between (with possible supernatural powers thrown in, why not). What a fascinating, wholly unexpected, totally unique work. (And what better time to pick up a book called Sex Criminals than during Banned Books Week.)

FF 12, East of West 6
Also new this week, Fraction kindof sortof had FF 12, but he's largely off the book now and I was worried it wouldn't have the same pop. Those worries were unfounded, of course. Lee Allred joins Mike Allred and Laura Allred and everything is decidedly all Alright. There are a couple of really cool moments here, and Allred-cubed nail the awesome.

Just as much as Jonathan Hickman has been making game changing superhero comics in Infinity (Avengers 20 out this week), East of West 6 continues to redefine the science fiction western (if it was ever defined at all). Nick Dragotta continues to absolutely kill it with this series. Now is the time to dive into their world - pick up the first trade for ten bucks and dive in with issue six, better and cheaper than a movie.

The Wake 4 continues to be a little too silly, Unwritten 53 continues to be frustratingly uninteresting (it's main virtue being Peter Gross tackling Fables art, but the story is still falls flat), Ultimate Spider-Man 27 was fun, and Dark Horse Presents has lost its mojo. Speaking of Mojo(jojo), Powerpuff Girls 1 by Troy Little from IDW was delightful (but I'm a sucker for the PPGs), Jupiter's Legacy 3 had Frank Frickin Quitely, Young Avengers 10 was gorgeous (as usual) and fairly substantive storywise (not always usual), and Fatale 17 was the best of the '90s story so far.

Finally, Saga 14 and Mind MGMT 15 continued to be Saga and Mind MGMT, which are guarantees for quality that exist pretty much nowhere else.

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