by Ryan Desaulniers
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
At the risk of sounding dramatic, cliche, or platitudinous: sometimes love is not enough to save a relationship. So many things go into successfully balancing the scale of a happy, healthy long-term romantic relationship, and while love is certainly important, it is certainly not the only factor. This is were we see Jon and Suzie in Sex Criminals 20 — at a crossroads, loving each other dearly, but unable to continue as a couple.
While this issue is replete with big moments and lovingly-made pages, this two-page spread tells the story:
In this simple shot/reverse shot, artist Chip Zdarsky utilizes these head silhouette frames — a device he’s used a few times recently — to show the audience what dialogue simply could not: the priorities between the two lovers are shifting. In my experience, there are few things more deadly to a relationship than when peoples’ priorities shift, and the milieu of smaller issues plaguing this couple over the past several issues forecast this shift. Whereas Suzie’s head-caption things show her thinking of all of the best times she’s had with Jon, such as the first time they found each other in The Quiet, or his sexy nerdiness in his Star Trek costume, Jon’s head-space only depicts Suzie in two out of the five images displayed, with the other three being dominated by his insecurities, grudges, and obsessions. We’ve watched Jon try to realign his priorities with Suze over the past arc, but his efforts were for naught, and break-up sex seems to be the only logical next step.
Just because the break-up was a long time coming doesn’t make this event any less impactful. Zdarsky and writer Matt Fraction help let the gravity of this decision really hit by having the patience and grace to let silence tell the bulk of the story here. With less of the characters’ thoughts cluttering up moments as simple yet devastating as packing up a former partner’s toothbrush, the creative team invites the reader to project our own relationship tribulations of past or present onto the page, and bring ourselves back to those quiet moments in our lives when all the love in the world couldn’t stop the inevitable.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?