Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Sex Criminals 16, originally released February 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Patrick: Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarksy’s Sex Criminals plays with some very big, very difficult ideas. The thematic engine of this series spits out hard questions about identity, sexuality, morality and mental health, but it runs on moment-to-moment action. I’m talking about “action” in the basest sense — Jon and Suzie may have the power to stop time and rob banks, but no one is tuning in for that spectacle. I mean “action” like how we follow one statement from the speaker to its audience, tracking the psychological cause and effect in every second of the interaction. That’s what allows Fraction and Zdarksy to find the drama in Jon repeating “I don’t know how to do this.” His is a prison of inaction, of apathy. In highlighting the action that doesn’t really seem like action, Fraction and Zdarsky drastically alter the speed and intimacy of the story they’re telling. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan M. and Ryan D. are discussing Sex Criminals 14, originally released February 17th, 2016.
Ryan M.: Anyone can be charming at a dinner party. A sense of gaiety and a few well-placed bon mots, and you’re a hit! But dinner parties are not where deep connections are forged. That happens when you see beyond the public facade and get a deeper understanding of what a person is like when they don’t have anything clever to say. When they are struggling to articulate their ideas, but trust you enough to listen anyway. In Sex Criminals 14, writer Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky offer up that kind of vulnerability even as their characters struggle with it. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Sex Criminals 12, originally released September 16th, 2015.
Drew: Human beings find meaning in things. It makes sense as a survival mechanism — recognizing patterns or hypothesizing causal links can lead us towards food or away from danger — but it’s also not something we can turn off. A friend of mine once pointed out that you can fill one of those logical analogies (you know, “puppy is to dog as kitten is to cat”) with four totally random words and it will still make some kind of sense — that is, we can find meaning in connections that are literally drawn out of a hat. To me, that means that “meaning” doesn’t necessarily have objective basis in reality — it’s a thing that we construct because that’s what our brains do. This has some rather profound existential consequences, but for the purposes of our discussion of Sex Criminals 12, I want to focus on what it means for the characters, as this issue finds them each extrapolating meaning that might not be there. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Michael are discussing Sex Criminals 11, originally released June 29th, 2015.
Drew: I’ve played the “what superpower would you want” game enough to know that most people will settle for “flight” or “invisibility.” Does that predictability speak to the overwhelming awesomeness of those powers, or some failure of those individuals to be creative? I think it might actually speak to how we think about superpowers: they’re so arbitrary as to be kind of meaningless. Indeed, there are relatively few characters whose powersets are actually limited to just “flight” or “invisibility,” giving even those most popular choices the air of not quite being enough. Which is why Sex Criminals is such a revelation. “A series about a couple with the ability to stop time” doesn’t get nearly the reaction as “A series about a couple with the ability to stop time when they orgasm.” Part of the charm is the novelty, sure, but the premise requires that sexuality play a central role in the series. That makes it unique beyond its superpowers, as issue 11 takes us into the private lives of virtually every character via their sex lives. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Ryan are discussing Sex Criminals 10, originally released January 28th, 2015.
Patrick: I think we’re slowly starting to emerge on the other side of the age of the anti-hero: when your Tony Sopranos and Walter Whites and Don Drapers were the coolest guys on TV. If there’s one thing these guys all have in common — other than your suspicion that you couldn’t be friends with them in real life — it’s that they all know what they want. The means and methods by which they achieve their goals can be questionable, but as long as they continue to express an honest desire, the audience never goes away. It’s strong, and somehow morally correct. Even when their worlds are crashing down around them, we have faith in the anti-hero’s unwavering need to get what they want. So where does that leave us with characters that don’t know or can’t articulate what they want? That’s a relatable trait, probably more relatable than any of us would like to admit. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan and Drew are discussing Sex Criminals 9, originally released December 10th, 2014. Ryan:Sex Criminals 9 begins with an entwicklungsroman of sorts, chronicling the development of the young woman who grows into Jon’s favorite adult actress, Jazmine St. Cocaine. It begins, like all good stories, with an inciting incident: a playground accident — seeming perpetrated by the subtly blood-speckled see-saw — leaves Rae Anne Toots with nerve damage on her clitoris and thus insensitive to that particular type of sexual stimulation. Despite this injury and the high school promiscuity (her intimation, not mine — judgment-free column here) she partially attributes to it, Ana graduates top of her class with her sights set on university. Unfortunately, her father can/will not help her with the financial strings attached, and she eventually finds that supporting herself by working forty hours plus to afford college is for suckers. Continue reading →
RToday, Greg and Ryan are discussing Sex Criminals 8, originally released October 8th, 2014.
Greg: Let’s have fun with oversimplifications: Life is messy. To distract us from this messiness, humans create and consume media. Some media is tidy, to help us escape. Some media is messy, to help us examine. The best media, like the latest issue of Sex Criminals, has a balance of both elements. Now, let’s have fun with overcomplications.
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. Continue reading →
Today, Scott and Shelby are discussing Sex Criminals 6, originally released June 18th, 2014.
Scott: Have you ever been surprised at your own emotional response to something? It happened to me last summer, when my grandfather died. It was unexpected, or at least as unexpected as the death of an 88 year old man could be. I was shocked and saddened by the news, but I was very aware that my reaction felt muted. I knew my grandfather very well and loved him dearly, so why wasn’t I more emotional? I started to wonder if I was incapable of truly grieving. It seemed like another step in a progression I had noticed in recent years, a general softening of my emotional responses, and the thought that I might be dead inside scared the crap out of me. A couple months ago, my entire family reunited for a memorial service and I was again surprised when, while speaking about my grandfather, I could hardly get through a sentence without bawling. Discovering that I was capable of such an emotional outpouring was a huge relief, as the thought of a lifetime of even-keeled reactions seemed dreadful. I realize I can’t always control how I will react to major life events, but I’m thankful that I can at least be comfortable with my emotions. As Sex Criminals 6 illustrates in painstaking detail, not everyone is so lucky.
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Sex Criminals 5, originally released March 19th, 2014.
Shelby: The honeymoon’s over. The cat’s out of the bag. Issue 4 of Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals sees a confrontation between the sex police as well as uncomfortable secrets revealed between our favorite comic book couple. The issue opens with a charming limerick summary, so I thought it would be appropriate to open our discussion in the same fashion. Ahem:
There once was a blogger called Bee
Who loved the criminals sexy
The dirty stuff was the best
But as to the rest
It was actually pretty touching (heh) to see