Sex Criminals Review: Would you eat a street muffin?

Sex Criminals Chip Zdarsky Image Comics

Sex Criminals #7Sex Criminals #7 Chip Zdarsky September 2014 Image Comics

Matt Fraction (W)

Chip Zdarsky (A)

Image Comics

Sex Criminals #7 opens with Suzie mulling over the downsides of birth control pills before dropping her badly-needed muffin on the street. What would you do? Would you eat the street muffin?

Suzie picks it off the street and takes a bite, then looks up to see her old roommate Rach. They head off to get some coffee. Let’s talk about the art for a moment.

Look at this cluster of panels, where Suzie is explaining The Quiet to Rach. Do you see how Suzie’s interior goes from the colors and glows of The Quiet only to fade and have everything but her face turn to black?

Sex Criminals #7  Chip Zdarsky September 2014 Image ComicsThat’s some serious comicing right there, nicely foreshadowing the end.

Then on the next page there are back and forth panels of the two women’s faces as Suzie panics over what she revealed and Rach tries to take it in. Their expressions are very real, and Rach makes a queef joke. That is an excellent depiction of female friendship. Nailed it.

And this issue made my heart break a little for young Jon, even after I thought I couldn’t roll my eyes through another coming-of-age story about a boy coming to grips (heh) with his fear of girls. The middle panels at the bottom of page 7 showing his crush Jennibeth go in and out of focus when Jon turns his camera on her are simply beautiful. Jennibeth turns to see Jon just as he can really see her.

The panels turn black again when Jon interacts with his dad, who doesn’t really see him, and the text only panels break up the two sections of Jon’s backstory. There are punctuations of red throughout, in Jennibeth’s tank top and the darkroom.

Jon likes to watch. He watches the girl he crushes on in high school, the other students’ important moments, his father at work, Kegelface in her bed. He feels guilt about the voyeurism, at least until he sees another opportunity to violate someone’s privacy. Then Jon forgets to feel bad for a bit.

The swirling colors of The Quiet/CumWorld make the pages where Jon is breaking into the Sex Police hideout a little hard to parse – you have to really get in there and look. You don’t get to just gloss over Jon’s intrusion into someone else’s life. You have to get close to the page to see what he’s up to, and it makes you complicit.

That double-dildo? Artistic genius, courtesy of Chip Zdarsky.

In the first part you see the interior world of Suzie and her vulnerability, versus the brazen crudeness of the Sex Police’s hideout filled with a tower of dildos, displays of masks and gimp suits, and sex harnesses and swings. And an ordinary file cabinet, which holds the secret that blows Jon’s mind. They’re not alone. There are many, many other people who can stop time with their climaxes as well.

This is a Jon-heavy issue. And I won’t lie – he makes me a little uncomfortable. It’s not just the shitting-in-his-boss’-plant, or how his nose kinda looks like a dick, or his confession of how close he’d come to sexual assault, but just how okay he is overall with transgressing boundaries. I liked getting the story of why he was that way. It made me like him a little better.

We’re taken back to the current time in the last page, and it’s filled with a lot of black. Everyone is either a black silhouette in front of who’s being seen, or the blackness presses in against their backs. And the last panel shows their apartment drifting in a sea of black, giving us a visual for an uncomfortable silence.

So it’s a world where there are many people who can stop time by climaxing, and having found each other, Suzie and Jon end up feeling alone. Alone in the black.

Sarah Richardson

Sarah Richardson

Sarah Richardson is a graphic artist living in Chicago. In addition to illustrating and laying out tabletop RPGs and zines, she burns through comics and books as fast as her eyes can move. Sarah swears a lot on twitter as @scorcha79.