The final part of this opening arc exemplifies everything that makes Sex Criminals great.
I am constantly surprised by the emotional depth of this crazy little book called Sex Criminals. (It’s even more surprising when you consider that the book opens with a recap poem that rhymes “pubes” with “boobs” and includes the line, “whose peener glowed bright like the dawn”.)
But that’s the balance that Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky have been able to strike with this series from the first issue.
In #5, the final chapter of the first story arc, our lead characters Jon and Suze find themselves captured by the Sex Police. The scenario is absolutely as ridiculous and hilarious as it sounds: after using their ability to freeze time by “diddling their bits” in the bank bathroom, the couple attempted a robbery (in order to save the failing library where Suze works).
It turns out, though, that these aren’t the only two people with this strange gift, and now the couple have to escape their captors.
Interspersed with the action and comedy are flashbacks to the planning of the bank robbery. Along the way, Suze catches Jon pooping in his boss’s plant during one of their rehearsal robberies, and it leads to revelations about Jon’s Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
In the back of this issue Fraction credits the short-lived, Judd Apatow-created sitcom Freaks and Geeks as one of his primary influences in writing this story. That influence is evident in the honest way he and Zdarsky portray these characters, especially their sex lives, warts and all. The revelation of Jon’s Oppositional Defiant Disorder is just the latest piece that goes towards making up the puzzle of the book’s two leads.
Sex Criminals is a weird mix of late 1990s/early 2000s black-and-white indie comics, superhero comics, and Judd Apatow comedies. It’s something that really shouldn’t work as well as it does, but the dialogue and backstory, combined with the simultaneously relatable and cartoony art, make the whole thing work.
Matt Fraction (W), Chip Zdarsky (A) • Image Comics, $3.50, March 19, 2014