Book Review: Sex Criminals vol. 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction

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He was right y’know. The two of us. Alone together. Two lives full of sex and sadness and weird shit and distance, and then suddenly — Suddenly, there he was. There we were. Me and this guy. This fucking guy.

Synopsis:

Suzie’s just a regular gal with an irregular gift: when she has sex, she stops time. One day she meets Jon and it turns out he has the same ability. And sooner or later they get around to using their gifts to do what we’d ALL do: rob a couple banks. A bawdy and brazen sex comedy for comics begins here!


What can I say about this comic besides, “wow.” Sex Criminals is a widely original, yet not for everyone, comedic adventure.

The premise of this series is that our main character stops time whenever she orgasms. But, it’s not something she can control, like a superpower. Every time Suzie orgasms, she stops time. Period (no pun intended). Eventually, she has sex with John and upon climax, they both stop time. Together. With this newfound sense of partnership, John comes up with the genius idea to rob the bank he works for and steal enough money to prevent the bank from foreclosing on the library that Suzie works for. Because of course, if you can stop time why not rob a bank?

Now this is by no means a fantastic graphic novel. It’s charm lies in its originality and the way the characters use comedy to break the tension surrounding sex talk. The characters continuously break the fourth wall and make sex jokes, penis puns and anything else you can imagine having to do with genitalia. And it’s all very refreshing. There is a lot of pressure nowadays for things to be ‘correct’ and ‘have meaning’ and I love that Sex Criminals says “yes, but you can do all of those things without being a complete killjoy.”

What I mean by that is even though the series is aware of its completely lax nature, it tackles some very pertinent topics in human sexuality in a very relaxed and conversational way. Topics like masturbation and its stigma in society, slut shaming and the fluidity of sexuality are some seen in this volume. Suzie and John are so open about their sex lives with the reader, you begin to feel comfortable with your own sexual vices. And believe me, we all have them whether we are willing to admit them or not.

However, Sex Criminals‘ strength is also its weakness. The relaxed and conversational tone may work for some readers, like it did with me, but with others it may come off as not taking the topics seriously enough. And its very easy to get this impression because of the amount of sex jokes and the way some of them straddle the line between funny and immature.

Another downfall for me is that the story jumps from one point in time to another. For example, we could be in the present then the following panel is in the past with no prior notice or warning. Sometimes we see past Suzie and present Suzie in the same panel with present Suzie narrating directly to the viewer and it all feels very cluttered and confusing. It definitely put me off at first, but as I slowed down and read a bit more carefully I got used to it.

All things considered, Sex Criminals is a highly entertaining graphic novel series that I recommend for people involved in sex and identity research or, if you have even a remote interest in it. I shouldn’t even have to mention this but it’s only for mature audiences. Even if it’s comedy appeals to one’s inner child. Go into this series with an open mind and light heart, and maybe you might learn a thing or two.

 

 

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