Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Sex Criminals 7, originally released August 13th, 2014.
Patrick: This is going to be one timid-ass example, but rest assured, the story is so tame because I want to save face here. In high school, I was all about grand romantic gestures — mix tapes, love letters, picnics, whatever: it was all my jam. So, early on the morning of her sixteenth birthday, I picked up my girlfriend from her house and drove us to the shores of Lake Michigan to watch the sunrise. Mind you, it’s April and both the lake and the beach are covered in ice. Already not the smartest idea. But I was on my way to her house, zipping along mostly-deserted roads far too quickly and I got pulled over for speeding. Driving safely just wasn’t a thought in my horny little head at that moment. Luckily, I only got a ticket — no one was hurt or anything like that. But who knows what kind of damage my hormone-addled body could have caused? This is the G-rated version of a story we all have; especially when we’re first discovering it, sex turns us into weirdly irresponsible monsters, monsters that make mistakes.
This issue presents us with three different mistakes each made in the heat of the moment. The first is probably the most emotionally obvious one, and is something of a universal experience. Suzie runs into her old roommate, Rachelle, and decides to apologize for putting her sexual relationship with Jon above their friendship. Also, Suzie confesses to stopping time when she comes, but conveniently leaves out exactly what she and Jon have been doing with that frozen time. Rach is totally understanding, and even if she wants to see this crazy power demonstrated, she’s more or less welcoming of her friend. It’s a charming scene, made all the more accessible by Suzie frequently turning to the camera and confessing a little extra to the audience. The whole thing is presentational, affecting an even-jokier-than-usual tone. And why not? Suzie’s only crime was granting more time and attention to her sexual relationships than her platonic relationships. You know: a situation so common we’ve come up with the handy “bros before hoes” aphorism. The transgression is so minor that Rach is able to patch up the whole thing with a well-timed queef joke.
It’s all in good fun and easily mended. Jon, on the other hand, gets two confessions in this issue, but neither as jovial as Suzie’s. In fact, it’s not entirely clear what the context is for Jon’s flashback to high school. While he’s clearly telling Suzie about the events at Kegelface’s house in the last section of the issue, his early exploration of Cumworld is an emotionally naked expression of shame. The implied audience for this story is kind of no one. Jon doesn’t address the readers directly, which is a huge contrast to the little Suzie vignette that kicks off the issue.
It’s wrapped up in a cute story about how Jon fucked up by trying to take all the pictures for the year book while in Cumworld, but the actual confession is much darker. It’s not entirely clear what Jon was planning to do to/with/in front of Jennibeth Monroe in the paused time of his post-jack-off bliss, but the implication is that its as bad as we can imagine. Sex Crimes has been a wonderfully sex-positive series thus far, even playing the embarrassing parts of sexual discovery more like cute astonishment, rather than chasing anything downright shameful. But there’s an uglier side to sex — hormones that pull rational human beings into bizarre, amoral actions. Jon is all ready to whip out his dick in front of Jennibeth Monroe, but thankfully cools down before he can properly make the mistake. Matt Fraction is so smart to spare us any of the details of what’s running through little Jonny’s head, instead just leaving us with his emotional impression of his own impulses. Jon’s voiceover is basically a perfect piece of writing:
In the hot-flush fury of it all, I felt like my wishes had come true. And I went after her, running. But then… my blood cooled. Sanity returned as my urge to get off receded, as it is wont to do. Maybe not sanity. Rationality. Common-fucking-sense returned. I swear, the velocity and intensity of deviant thoughts that race through my head in the lead up to coming absolutely startles me when I think back on it. In the moment, I’m up for anything. But afterwards? I go back to timid — is that judgmental? — I go back to thinking like my largely un-adventurous self. So between busting a nut in the dark room and getting back to my be-lusted Jennibeth, I realized what sent me off to the races wasn’t “just looking” but rather full-bore “sexual assault.” And that wasn’t me. That wasn’t — Jesus, I get ashamed just thinking that I was thinking about it.
Again, there are no jokes here, no winking-to-the-camera, and no suggestion that we’re even welcome witnesses to Jon’s memory. These are private thoughts confessing to crimes that never made it out of that the initial horny-brainstorming phase.
Drew, I found that second story to be particularly powerful, especially after the largely carefree BFF coffee date, but Fraction and Zdarski present a third mistake, one that’s a hell of a lot more plotty than the other two. I know I’m happiest when this series takes its detours seriously, so it’s always a little unnerving to see it stubbornly moving its plot forward. What did you make of Jon’s double-bladed dildo-saber duel against the man with the flesh-light-tazer? Are you ready for some more my Sex Cops mythology or would you rather stick with personal stories of sexual discovery? And finally: should I have said pocket-pussy-tazer instead of flesh-light-tazer? I honestly don’t know which is funnier.
Drew: There’s no need to split hairs so long as we can agree that the device was…stunning (full disclosure: I may have spent the better part of an hour trying to come up with some kind of ungodly portamento of “taser” and “twat”, so am basically ready to concede that nothing is actually funny, when you think about it).
I’m definitely with you on enjoying the story of Jon’s 10th grade yearbook the most here, to the point that I hesitate to even call it a detour. I made a similar point when the flashbacks in issue 4 veered into decidedly less cheery territory, but I think this series is so defined by those first few issues of embarrassing flashbacks that the “plot” actually feels more like a detour. Or maybe I was just so charmed by those flashbacks (and enamored of the discussions they facilitated in the letters pages, here on the site, and in my real life) that I never really want them to go away. Either way, a jaunt back to Jon’s high school days was very welcome, even if (and perhaps especially because) it paints the adolescent male libido in a decidedly unflattering light.
Like Patrick, I found Jon’s story to be all too relatable. I didn’t have a stark moment of awakening like Jon does here, or even a physical manifestation of my lust run amok like Patrick’s speeding ticket, but I was decidedly a teenaged boy in high school, and that same unchecked libido made me such an asshole. I can’t imagine how exhausting it would be to date 16 year-old me, constantly fending off advances to make out RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW, but the point is: a rational person would never put someone they cared about through that. Of course, with all those hormones and still-developing brains, rationality isn’t exactly the playbook any teens are using. That I recognize my own shitty behavior as typical teenage boyness just speaks to how universal that message really is.
Of course, the take-home for Jon isn’t that teens are monsters — instead, he learns that he can get away with anything. Or, to put a finer point on it: nobody cares enough about him for his actions to have any consequences. We never see how the rest of Jon’s school reacts to him single-handedly ruining the yearbook (though I think the onus might be on whoever gave sole responsibility of the yearbook to a 10th grader with zero oversight. Like, even if he was taking awesome pictures, somebody should have been checking his work with enough time to course-correct if they needed more football pictures or whatever), but that’s not really the point: Jon never had to deal with the consequences for his actions, so is utterly unequipped to face them now…which is where this story starts to lend some context to the plot.
Jon admits that a home-invasion is new territory even for him — he mostly just trashed the bank and Cumworld — but his little lesson in “getting away with it” allows us to take that leap with him. Of course, the equation of “nobody cares enough about him for his actions to have any consequences” has changed a bit recently, which is why Jon seems so apologetic when he returns home with some stolen files and what we all have to assume are used anal beads. There’s about to be some serious blowback, and we only have the slimmest idea of how big things really are.
My unintentional dick jokes aside, I think that filing cabinet may be the biggest piece of mythology we’ve gotten about the Sex Police and the weirdly interconnected world of time-stopping orgasms. How did Kegelface (or Myrtle Spurge, as we learn here) work up a whole dossier on Suzie (and, presumably, Jon)? Did she do all the work herself, or was the file put together by some higher authority? Did they only find out about Suzie when she and Jon started contemplating crimes, or was she on their radar previously? They have a filing cabinet apparently full of folks like Suzy, but to what end? It’s a lot of questions right now, but Zdarsky takes care to show us that Jon nabbed multiple files from Myrtle’s Sex Office (Office Dungeon?), giving Jon and Suzy a clear avenue for gathering some answers.
Actually, that prospect is pretty exciting, even if I just want to hear more embarrassing sex stories. This issue’s kind of LOST-ian contextualization of the present with a flashback points to a way this series could aim to balance those two desires going forward, which might be an ideal solution. Either way, I’m pumped for the next issue. In the meantime, let’s everyone share the worst thing they did (or almost did) as a teen to get their rocks off (or almost get their rocks off).
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?
Before we get to embarrassing desperate rocks-off stories, I just wanted to point out that Zdarski — who we don’t get around to praising nearly enough here — has this thing packed with fun little visual jokes. There’s one of those READ posters in Jon’s classroom that has Reed Richards on it — a cute little nod to Fraction’s run on that series. Also that dark room full of fantasy chicks that Jon was beating off to was like a who’s who of cool ladies in fiction (or close approximations there of). It’s a good way to keep even that darker material nice and light.
Can I just say that, as great as this issue was and as great as this series always is, the letter column just had me in stitches?
“Try rubbing one out somewhere scary, like in a haunted house.”
The fleshlight/tasers have a name (Fraction apparently came up with it after Zdarsky drew fleshlights where the script had just said tasers).
That is an elegant solution to our problem. From now on, we use Fraction’s Bond joke.
“You know what’s great about you English? Octopussy. Man, I must have seen that movie… twice.”