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Sex Criminals has been one of my favorite comics since the beginning, even after Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky forever tainted “Fat Bottommed Girls” for me in issue 3. The first two issues were hilarious, realistic, and only slightly demented coming of age stories, in which the protagonists just happened to be able to stop time after orgasm. However, the third issue really got us into the meat of things, where the idea to use their abilities together for crime (a kind-hearted one) came to fruition. Also, as this reviewer kindly points out, people get slapped in the face with phalluses. More than once.
In the most recent issue, we see the execution of these crimes, as well as the punishment. (Also an explanation as to why Matt Fraction’s twitter handle reads “BUTT STUFF WEREWOLF“). The story finally climbs out of back story territory and moves forward, finally encountering the antagonists of the piece. Of course, they only meet these antagonists after an saucy crime spree in “Cumworld”, where they rearrange dildos, nipple clamps, etc. to the public’s delight.
Naturally this event, and frequent thefts after, do not go unnoticed. Fraction and Zdarsky manage to make facing the police force of people who stop time with their orgasm simultaneously serious and absurd as the protagonists face their first obstacle – Kegelface and her minions. That this police force carries sex toys modified for violence makes the subsequent take-down of the protagonists is a brilliant stroke of creativity, keeping the whimsical tone of the book while moving it towards darker territory.
This issue is darker than the previous three. The humor, honesty and sex are still present, but there an ominous tone is added to the mix as Suzy narrates Kegelface’s origin. For a series that has often come across irreverent and playful, this seriousness of this issue is a new twist. Instead of finding myself with warm fuzzies at the end of this issue, I was left with concern and curiosity for Suzy and Jon’s fate. If the ability of a comic team is determined by their effect on the people reading their work, then Fraction and Zdarsky continue to bend me to their combined will with every issue.