Last issue was all about the sex police, with very little Suzie and Jon action (of either variety) to speak of. This week, issue #18, "Totems," puts the spotlight back on everyone’s favorite couple, and looks to get the story moving forward a bit.
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Chip Zdarsky
Publisher: Image Comics
Right from the get go, it appears as if this is going to be a different type of issue and the cover is pretty atypical for the series. Well, it is and it isn’t–in a way, it’s back to the status quo, as we’re focusing on protagonists Jon and Suzie rather than the villainous sex police like we were last issue. But there’s very little action in this issue. No Quiet, no chases, no crazy ejaculate-based monsters.
Rather, what we do get is an incredibly well written, introspective and at time poignant look at the nature of relationships through the lens of the ones in the series: Suzie and Jon’s strained relationship, Robert and Rachel’s destroyed one, and the former Jazmine St. Cocaine’s relationship with herself.
This has always been a series with two sides to it: it deftly switches from completely bonkers comedy to heavy introspection. This issue, however, is pretty much all the latter. It’s executed so well that it’s not a bad thing at all, but fans who read Sex Criminals for the lulz will be disappointed this time around. There are some good gags, as a porn convention called Sexxxporgascon provides plenty of opportunity for puns, but by and large this issue is a serious one.
But yeah, don’t go into this one expecting too many laughs. Instead, expect to examine the various relationships in the series and cut to their core to see what makes them tick, and in some cases, what went wrong. Anyone who’s been in a serious relationship will relate to the moments depicted in this issue, aided by spot-on dialogue by writer Matt Fraction. I don’t normally expect such introspection to be brought on by comic books, but Sex Criminals is not your average comic book.
There isn’t much to be said about Chip Zdarsky’s artwork–it’s as good as ever. As I said, there aren’t many opportunities for laughs, which are a staple of his artwork in this series, but there are some. Sexxxporgascon in particular offers some chuckles, but for the most part this is a far more subdued issue than we’ve seen in the past. Still, Zdarsky’s artwork shines even when it’s just depicting characters talking in bed.
Is It Good?
Sex Criminals usually manages a balance between off-the-wall humor and a deep look at human relationships, and while this issue is nearly all the latter, it’s executed wonderfully. There aren’t many laughs and the story doesn’t progress all that much, but regardless this is not an issue to miss.