by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky
With a title like Sex Criminals you wonder what kind of story you are getting into when you pick it up. Even when you are about halfway through it you are still wondering, “where is this going?” Once you reach the final panel though it all makes sense and you understand for the most part what this series is.
Fraction tells the story of a young Suzanne, who after the death of her father, which causes a rift between her and her mother, she experiences her first orgasm in a bathtub from the running water. Seems pretty much like a typical, awkward teen story except when Suzanne has an orgasm bright colors begin to bleed, everything falls silent except a low-rumble and time stops for everyone and everything except her. Fraction does a good job of not revealing too much about the basic plot of this story by making this first issue still interesting and appealing with Suzanne’s “origin story.” By the time you read the last page everything clicks into place and you immediately think, “I get it now.”
For being such an adult themed book the art could be quite off-putting. Zdarsky’s style of art has a very cartoon, almost animated look to it which felt very out of place for this story. After a second read the art almost compliments this weird dark comedy that Fraction is piecing together and a more realistic or dark artist wouldn’t have such an impact on the reader. When we have two pages of Suzie Dickson (Eastview Middle School’s biggest ho-bag) drawing some ridiculous (but possibly legit?) sex positions on a girl’s bathroom wall, it really embodied the whole comical but weird story we are reading.
Sex Criminals is a unique read, there isn’t a lot of similar books out on the shelves getting this kind of attention so while it may be jarring it was also stimulating. This story isn’t going to be for everyone and most people will probably judge this book on the goofy but honest title or the adult subject matter. Sex Criminals is a book that most people should check out and make up their own minds about but it is also an example of never judging a book by its cover, or title.