Written by Joe Casey
Art by Piotr Kowalski
Colors by Brad Simpson
Reviewed by Steve Seigh
Let it never be said that Image Comics is a timid comic book company. With releases like Black Kiss II and (now) Sex it’s obvious that Image is willing to take risks on books that will raise eyebrows … and perhaps other body parts as well. You get me? Good. Okay, let’s move on.
Sex #1, in my estimation, is a rather deceptive comic book. While I found it to be an intriguing and atmospheric read I’d also surmised that a fair amount of vital information was missing from the comic that was keeping it from being a solid #1 issue. Who exactly is or was Simon Cooke? What is the function of this ginormous company that he’s come back to helm? So far, all we really know is that he used to be a super hero called The Armored Saint, and that after the tragic death of a loved one, he retired from (I would assume) being a super hero, in order to uphold a promise to become just like everyone else.
Unfortunately, for me, this is where the problems began. Who is this person that has such sway over the deeds of someone once in charge of protecting an entire city? Who could get a once great hero to not only up and quit, but disappear for a total of seven months, leaving the city to fall to ruin in The Armored Saint’s absence? I suppose that the ailing person’s identity is perhaps part of the mystery, and will later be revealed in the issues to come, but I personally would have welcomed knowing the identity of this character, as it would have helped me to care about that event much more by the end of the issue.
You see, the thing about Sex #1 is that it does have a few things working for it that I really enjoyed. I dig the gritty, inner city atmosphere to it. The massive cityscapes remind me of something right out of Total Recall or perhaps Blade Runner. The world feels realized and teeming with life, making Saturn City the perfect landscape for all manner of heroism and debauchery. Though, I am left to wonder about the “sex” showcased inside of this issue. While the explicit and graphic art made it quite the spectacle on paper I’m not certain of its purpose in the story beyond it being a gateway to introduce who I would assume to be our female lead. It’s my guess that the sex was there to convey to you (visually) how removed Simon is from his own surroundings, but I’m not sure that this is reason enough, and I’m hoping for it to become about more than that in future issues. Otherwise, it’s just a word and activity embedded into the story to try and sell books, which to me feels hollow.
My chief concern with Sex #1 is that I feel as if I don’t have a firm grasp on what this book is supposed to be about. Is this a story about Simon’s struggle to regain his sanity? Is it about a broken hero who perhaps falls even further down the rabbit hole after his efforts to find a new way to function inside of his city fail? Or, maybe I’m completely wrong and this is going to be a tale about a shattered hero who does hit bottom, but then snaps to, and discovers that he once again must be Saturn City’s savior. I’d even be down for Simon becoming a part of the seedy underbelly, and for a time selling himself as a retired super hero turned escort. I mean c’mon, who hasn’t at some point in their lives fantasized about bedding a super hero? I used to have this poster of Rogue in my room that was hung right across from my bed and … oh, ha ha ha! Well, you see the point I’m trying to make here.
The bottom line is that while Sex #1 left me feeling a little “unfulfilled” I have a sneaking suspicion that this could become a series that becomes something much greater after its had some time to find its legs. There are more than enough elements to the tale of Simon Cooke and the mystery of his past that could make for the telling of a great story. It’s my hope that the missing pieces find their way to us soon so that this book could be worth having orgasms over. What? Did you really expect me to not make at least a few sex puns while reviewing this book? Pffft, please.
Wait and See. Sex is another gritty, niche book from the Image imprint that needs time to grow. I understand that you can’t accomplish everything with a first issue all of the time but a little more clarity would have been nice. That being said, Sex also has the potential to become something damn good. However, it’s up to you as to whether or not you want to take the plunge. I personally love taking a chance on new titles and I’ll be checking out at least another issue or two before I decide whether or not to go for another round of Sex.
* This review was written while listening to the album Third by the band Portishead.