By Michael DeLaney and Patrick Ehlers
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Literally none of this makes any sense to me but I am fascinated
Michael: In the Western world — America in particular — we like to think that everything happens for a reason. In times of struggle we try to see it as a challenge or part of some greater purpose laid out for us by God, fate or the universe. And like anything, the only important meaning of something is what we ascribe to it. In Sex Criminals 25, protagonists Suzie and Jon both respond to their situations as if narrative meaning or consequence are an absolute.
Sex Criminals 25 opens with Suzie and her mother watching helplessly as their home burns down. Suzie wants to rush back in to save some possessions — namely the discoveries that she made about time traveling Kuber Badal gaming the stock market — but her mother tells her to let it go. Suzie also mentions how she can stop time with her sex powers but in the moment she was helpless — too in shock to do anything.
The destruction of the Dicksons’ home is an interesting thing to comprehend. Literally they are watching as all of their things go up in smoke, but symbolically is a different thing altogether. The house that burns down is not Suzie’s childhood home, but one that was made by her mother to be nearly identical. Before the fire Suzie was walking through “a house that was her house but wasn’t her house” — a dream trope that Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky have poked fun at before in the series. Curiously then, as she watches the house burn down she’s watching the memory of her home burn down — like a ghost moving on to the afterlife.
Suzie has been through a trauma that she tries to wash away in the motel shower, along with all of the smoke and soot that she scrubs off. When she sees that her mother has fallen asleep, Suzie masturbates to retreat to her safe space: The Quiet. It is here where she tries to rationalize what just happened as she speaks to herself.
Suzie is trying to comprehend what happened to her and her mom through the filter of a traditional fictional narrative: “this has to mean something, right?” Since it technically IS a fictional narrative there’s the possibility that there is indeed some meaning here, but that is up to Fraction and Zdarsky; the meaning they ascribe to it. So much crazy shit goes on in the world our minds race to make sense of it all in an attempt not to go insane. There have to be rules to life, right? The good guys should win and they bad guys should pay for their misdeeds…right?
It’s with his POV that Jon also struggles with the goings-on of Sex Criminals 25. Jon has an impromptu therapy session in his car with Dr. Glass and he can’t reconcile with the fact that not only is doctor still in love with villain Kegelface but that Jon must ally himself with her to help Suzie.
For Jon — and for us, the readers — Kegelface and “Bus Driver” are the bad guys; why should he work with them? It’s clear that Jon believes that these two should get their just desserts for their “villainy”, despite the fact that he himself has stolen quite a bit throughout the series. The world isn’t a fair place — sometimes the bad guys get away with their crimes and you have to work with them to save your ex-girlfriend from potential orgasm dimensional harm.
With that I will echo Dr. Glass’ statement from earlier:
Kegelface maintains that she is the only one who should speak to Suzie while she is in the Quiet/Frozen Realm/Cumworld…why is that exactly? As far as I can tell, Jon & co. are making a hell of a lot of assumptions about their current situation. They assume that Badal is the one who burnt Suzie’s house down, but as far as I can tell that is not the case. Suzie’s house burnt down because her mom was trying to fuck a robot and it blew a fuse. Is this another example of characters ascribing meaning to something when there is none? Is there something I’m missing here?
Patrick my boy, what say you? Any insight into the particular urgency of the Sex Criminals/Sex Police team-up? Are Jon and Suzie back together now? Did Dewey have a point when he made a correlation between Jon’s dream of fire and Suzie’s house burning down?
Patrick: I think Dewey sorta had a point. Which, y’know as much point as one can hope to make when trying to compare quantum entanglement to human relationships. Jon is maybe to dumb to pick up on the meaning behind it — he actually asks “…are you saying I burned down my girlfriend’s house in my sleep?” Michael, you’re right to point out that Suzie isn’t so much seeing her childhood home burning down, but the carefully curated memory of that home. In that way both Jon and Suzie are experiencing the metaphorical destruction of the ego, for Jon it’s the giant black cube that represents his depression, and for Suzie it’s this shrine to her childhood. These are aspects of their characters that appear to stand in the way of them connecting, so the literal and symbolic destruction of those things suggests that… maybe they are back together?
Or maybe not. I do like how Zdarksy frames the moment immediately after his depression cube is reduced to a smoldering crater in the ground. He peers up, revealing that he may have escaped on little black box only to be entombed in a different box all together.
It’s a really excellent use of color here to suggest a sort of indeterminable depth of Jon’s new prison. Is he in a new cube? Or at the bottom of some kind of red well? Whatever it is, Jon still needs something, not just the destruction of the self.
And also, abnegation was never r e a l l y where these characters were heading. They are both so hopelessly themselves that Suzie escapes to the Quiet Place at the first opportunity after the house burns down, and Job insists an calling it “Cumworld” even when Kegelface offers the much more palatable “The Frozen Realm.” Hell, Jon carries around his defiance and negativity throughout his team-up with the Sex Police, snarkily spitting out insults like “J.O.O. Tolkien” and only reluctantly agreeing to their plan with a skyward “God DAMMIT!”
So maybe all that Jon and Suzie coming back together really signifies is search for something familiar among all this destruction of the self. I mean, Suzie’s in crisis-within-a-crisis mode when she sees Jon and rushes to him. Fraction and Zdarksy let on that they know there’s this a disconnect between them, represented by Jon being out of Cumworld, and Suzie existing in the Quiet Place. Zdarsky using the visual vocabulary he’s spent years developing, and we can see the moment their worlds merge into one.
Which I guess leads me back to the quote Michael pulled for the beginning of this piece. Is this a good thing for Jon and Suzie or just what they need right now to start reconstructing their damaged identities? I’m not sure that makes sense, but goddamn is it compelling reading.
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