Thursday, October 27, 2016

Twelve Things About Sex Criminals Volume 3 by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Cover of Sex Criminals Volume 3, featuring a slightly blurred drawing of two people looking in horror at something off screen. Pinky purple swirls of light surround them. The comic's title appears inside a white circle in the centre of the cover.
I set out to write a list of three things about SEX CRIMINALS VOLUME THREE: THREE THE HARD WAY as part of a Murchie Plus Books post, but I found I had heaps of things I wanted to say in brief. Heaps.

So instead, I offer you this list of twelve things about SEX CRIMINALS in general and THREE THE HARD WAY in specific:

1. If you're not familiar with the comic, it's probably not about what you think it's about. Some people can stop time with their orgasms. Some of these time-stopping orgasm people (namely, Suzie and Jon) use their powers to rob banks. They use sex to commit crimes, but they don’t commit sex crimes because consent is really important.

Also, some other time-stopping orgasm people strongly disagree with how Suzie and Jon use their sex powers.

2. It's hilarious. I laughed long and hard all while I read this third volume. Long. And. Hard. Suzie would approve.

3. You maybe don’t want to start here, since there’s been a lot of backstory so far and it might not be as funny if you don’t know the context in which these characters live their lives. But I mean, you can start here. I just wouldn't recommend it if you want the full effect.

4. There are a lot of penes in this volume. (Penes is the proper plural of penis. It's pronounced "peen-ees." I know this because my Classical Mythology prof once slammed me for incorrectly pluralizing “penis.” She was one of those professors who showers you with praise when you do well but does not hesitate to tell you when you done fucked up.) "A lot" is an understatement. There are FUCKTONS OF PENES IN HERE. There is a PENIS GOD MADE OF PENES. If you have a problem with seeing lots and lots of drawings of dicks, you want to read something else.

5. I thiiiiiiiink there's only one vagina this time around? If you want to see lots and lots of drawings of vaginas, you'll be more interested in Volume Two, where we meet OB-GYN Robert Rainbow. He has a seriously cool name and he spends all day making sure vaginas are healthy. By poking them in a nonsexual way.

6. It's all heartfelt and stuff. Like, people have both time-stopping orgasms and real, messy relationships that they work on because they care about one another and/or they realize they realize they should fight their social conditioning. Slut shaming ain’t cool, y’all.

7. It'd be super easy for Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky to either deny or ignore asexuality, given the series' premise, but they introduce an asexual character this time around! An asexual character who can enter the Quiet via adrenaline instead of orgasms!

8. It's super meta. The characters break the hell out of the fourth wall because they know they're in a comic book and seriously, how wild is it that they not only have sex powers but live in a comic book? The creators enter the story whenever they deem it necessary. Lots of the messy, awkward, nonsexual social stuff gets blasted over with black boxes filled with explanatory white text because who the hell wants to see a shopping and/or meeting scene when we could watch them stop time and/or talk about stopping time instead?


10. Some of the characters have sex powers beyond the whole time-stopping thing, so let's go ahead and call it a superhero comic. Don’t you just love unconventional superhero comics?

11. It's really frank about everything. Not just about sex. I appreciate that in a comic.

12. You should read it, unless you really don’t want to see drawings of genital organs and/or panels in which people have sex. Which is cool. There are lots of other very funny comics that might be more up your alley. May I recommend SQUIRREL GIRL by Ryan North and Erica Henderson? Squirrel Girl is super cool and meta, she cracks a lot of jokes, and there are no penes or vaginas. I also giggled my way through the first issue of JUGHEAD, written by SEX CRIMINALS artist Chip Zdarsky and drawn by SQUIRREL GIRL artist Henderson, and Juggie is asexual so you know he ain't gonna wave any dicks in your face. Unlike some comics characters I could name (Jon).


  1. I appreciate how frank the comic is too, about mental illness and such in particular. The thing is (I know I have complained about this before, sorry) with reading comics that are in process, the thing is that I never know where an individual story arc is going to end. And I'd much rather read a batch of five issues that concludes a story arc than read one per month and inevitably forget everything that's happened so far. THIS IS CHALLENGING and is a reason I prefer trades.

    (I'm not defensive.)

    (I am defensive. All this stuff with Chelsea Cain lately has brought a resurgence of the whole "if you don't buy floppies it's your fault the series got canceled" line of talk.)

    1. I always always wait for complete story arcs, partly for this reason and partly because my budget doesn't support single issues. I can take trades out of the library, where they're also available for everyone else in my city to enjoy.

      (Except word on the street--ie, on local librarians' Twitter feeds--says people often steal Matt Fraction's comics from the library. They had an especial problem keeping HAWKEYE on the shelves a few months back. Grrrrr.)