Sex Criminals is thankfully back on a regular schedule–I was starting to miss Jon and Suzie and their incredibly screwed up adventures. Last issue served to catch readers back up to speed after an extended hiatus, so issue #17, entitled "The Skell," should set some new stories in motion.
Sex Criminals #17 (Image Comics)
So what are we getting ourselves into this time? Here’s Image’s official synopsis:
You think it’s hard being a sex criminal? Try being a sex cop for, like, an issue, give or take. ALSO THIS ISSUE: a special sequence guest-colored by a MYSTERY COLORIST whose name rhymes exactly with "ELIZABETH BREITWEISER.”
And just like it sounds, we actually get nearly none of Jon and Suzie this issue, so if you were desperately awaiting more of their sexploits, you’re out of luck. Instead, the issue veers in a unique direction, as we see things from the sex police’s point of view.
This is actually a welcome change, as their motivations and purpose have been pretty unclear up to now. This issue may not make them crystal clear, but it was interesting to see what a typical "case" in this very atypical force looks like. We focus on a man referred to only as "the skell" as he’s being traced by the sex police for his heinous crime of…sexually enjoying pain and most importantly, pity. Something a lot of people are pretty into, but I guess when you have special powers as a result of climaxing from those interests, it’s a bit more serious.
I enjoyed this change of pace quite a bit, though it did feel a bit disconnected from the main story thread. Fleshing out the enigmatic antagonists is a good thing to be sure however, and it isn’t like there has been a lack of Jon and Suzie issues. Still, with the series freshly back from hiatus, my expectations were set on spending some time with those two.
It could be said there are two types of issues of Sex Criminals: more to the point, story-focused, easy read issues, and introspective, poignant, "f--k maybe that’s why I’m so depressed" hard hitters. This one is definitely the former, so prepare for a light read, albeit a fulfilling one.
The writing and artwork are, as with every single issue of Sex Criminals, brilliant and at points laugh out loud funny. There are lots of background puns, so be sure to spend some time absorbing the panels. Special shoutout goes to the Ed Brubaker-inspired (okay, more "shamelessly ripped" than "inspired") title page.
Is It Good?
A different point of view shakes things up pretty well this issue. Sex Criminals is never not good, and issue #17 is no exception. However, readers who were looking forward to really hunkering down with the series’ main characters may be a bit disappointed.