SEX CRIMINALS #1 REVIEW
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Chip Zdarsky
Review by Suzanne Nagda
Sex Criminals is a book with a surprising amount of heart. Recently, a few indie books (Joe Casey’s Sex in particular) have taken sex as a main theme with varying levels of success. What makes this one stand out? It hinges on the charisma and accessibility of the main character, Suzanne. For most of the issue, Suzanne establishes the book’s status quo and her relationships with other characters through the lens of sexuality.
Suzanne has the ability to stop time whenever she orgasms. Yes, that’s the basic premise of the book. Matt Fraction uses her “special talent” as a metaphor for how lonely young adulthood can be. Chip Zdarsky captures this perfectly in a panel with Suzanne standing alone at a crowded party. Zdarsky seems conscious of all the baggage that comes with female sexuality in comics and is careful to draw Suzanne in poses that don’t feel too voyeuristic. The only character that appears fully naked is male–a nice change from conventions of the medium.
Okay. It’s not all metaphorical. Suzanne’s sexual experiences range from childhood masturbation to sex in a public restroom and back again. Does this sound confusing yet? The plot jumps around in time as Suzanne narrates about her childhood and early adolescence. There’s a ton of exposition in this issue but thankfully its wrapped up in Suzanne’s sense of humor. I love when the older version of Suzanne pops up in random panels as she quips about her younger self. Zdarsky’s contributions to the book can’t be undersold. He really shines with a great sense of comedic timing and strong facial work.
My only complaint is that Fraction tries to pack too much into one issue. Suzanne’s childhood troubles and adolescent yearnings could span entire issues. Paring down the exposition a bit wouldn’t have hurt either. Some readers might not make it past the confusing timeline of the first few pages. Hopefully the next issue will have more action and less flashback scenes now that certain plot points have been established.
The Verdict: Buy it! Fans of Fraction’s writing style will find more to love here. It feels very different from most of the books out right now. After reading this issue, I want to know more about Suzanne’s journey from mild-mannered librarian to sex-positive criminal.