Well look who is back: Sex Criminals. After disappearing off the face of the Earth with no real mention of its future, it reappears and is ready for the second arc to commence. Will we see an actual crime committed? Will we get a different storytelling engine? Will the pacing be better? Will it actually be funny? Is it good?
Sex Criminals #6 (Image Comics)
After the fallout of their botched robbery, Susie and Jon try to get on with their lives. However, the sex police team has left them a little surprise. Some kind of weird white iPhone crap that seems to be tracking them. For whatever reason, they don’t get rid of it and just live with it being around and Jon soon finds himself going nuts, due to being spied on and most likely not taking his medication.
Wait narrator! Don’t leave me alone with this gray and colorless looking creep!
Right away, there are some vast improvements in this comic that really help. For one thing, it finally kicks to the curb the present/flashback/present story structure. That was really wearing thin, especially since it made the comic feel like it was padded out and the most interesting angle, the bank robbery, wasn’t given enough time and felt unimportant (really weird since this is called Sex Criminals). The whole ADHD part of Jon actually feels relevant instead of a random thing that was tossed in haphazardly in the last issue, adding more to the characterization with him. The issue also has a good setup for what the arc will be about and for the first time, I’m genuinely interested in what happens next. Please follow up on it immediately, Mr. next issue writer, because that would be really nice.
What’s not so good is that this comic has some real tonal problems. It’s hard to tell what kind of comic it is after reading it. It has an absurd and silly premise and some goofy moments/lines sprinkled throughout, but the story and the feel of the book it is conveying is really super serious and rather dark. It makes it hard to really know how to feel during the book and it really makes any attempt at humor feel out of place. This comic really needs to figure out a way how to properly balance these conflicting tones, like Chew does with aplomb.
Dude, it’s not there because the artist hasn’t drawn anything yet!
In the regards with the rest of the writing, there are certainly other things to comment on. The pacing and story structure are nice, better than previous arc without a doubt. The ending is pretty good as well and like I said, gives me hope for where the comic will be going from here. The biggest thing to comment on though is the characters. The focus of the issue and perhaps the arc itself, is on Jon and his own personal avatar narrator is talking to us this time. As such, he gets all the focus and characterization and everyone else is just sort of there. That’s perfectly fine and makes sense, but I would have liked to have seen a little bit of how Susie was dealing after everything or basically have some more depth about this mysterious sex police and how they work. Also, during the comic, it felt like it was trying to make the sex police more villainous and despicable with some of the action and how they were affecting Jon and Susie. The problem is though… the two of them sort of have it coming to them. They may have tried to commit the robbery with more noble intentions, but they still tried to commit a bank robbery with a superpower that stops time. It’s not hard to see the other side’s perspective here on why they may want to spy and stalk them to make sure they stay in line.
The last thing to note with the writing as always is the comedy. Honestly, this issue is just not funny and it goes back to the tonal problem with the comic. It was playing itself so straight and narrow, so serious that the first half of the book there are really no laughs to be found. As the story went on, there were attempts at bringing in humor (one joke did work personally) and levity, but it was all going on while Jon was having a mental breakdown that it made the comic more awkward and uneasy if anything. Just so problematic with its “humor.”
Sex noises now come in “bloop” sound effects.
The artwork is fine like it always has been. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it and it does its job (decent layouts, characters look fine, etc.), but there’s nothing that really jumps out about it in this particular issue, except for one area: the coloring, which is really the star here to the point where I think the penciling wouldn’t be nearly as good with a different colorist. Becky Kinize’s colors really shine here, with her bright and darker tones that really help a lot with the feel of the book. It’s especially good at depicting how much Jon is slowly losing himself over time as he turns gray. Just really good stuff here.
Is It Good?
Sex Criminals #6 is a promising start of a brand new arc that fills me with a bit of hope and confidence that previous issues haven’t been able to instill. The story is interesting and could be very good depending on how it plays it out, but problems still remain. The book can’t decide on or balance its tone, the humor falls even flatter than usual, and almost every character but Jon gets the shaft this issue. Hopefully, things will be getting better as time goes on and this is merely a bump in the road for the new arc.