Graphic Novel Review: Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Sex Criminals, Volume 1: One Weird TrickSex Criminals, Volume 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Sexuality

Collects: Sex Criminals #1-5

Publisher: Image Comics

Publication Date: April 29, 2014

Creator /

Matt Fraction dedicates this series to anyone who’s ever rubbed one out for the first time and the first issue opens with a couple having sex in the washroom, with the narrator, Suzanne, offering to explain and asking you not to judge. By way of explanation, she starts with her past and the death of her father, a seemingly random victim of a gun toting rampage. Her mother sinks into a life of tears and drink and Suzanne finds the only escape is underwater in the bathtub. One day, during her moments of seclusion, she makes an accidental discovery that involves touching herself—you know—down there. The result is not merely the incredible feeling of euphoria, but time actually stands still for her. She comes (lol) to call this phenomenon “The Quiet,” and tries to learn more about it. But there is little information available, and worse, no one seems to want to talk about it and asking the wrong people results in shame.

This might be a common experience for many. My birds and bees discussion was less discussion and more “here read this book,” wherein, This Book, had a blue cover, nice ’70s attired young teens smiling sweetly, and a big chapter on why masturbation is evil. In my aged wisdom and experience, I will be working from this book instead when it comes time to get more in depth about sex chats with my kids, however, we still live in a surprisingly prudish society. We love sex, but we’re still too ashamed to admit it. If that’s how you feel about the down and dirty, then this book actually *is* for you. Because you’re not alone in your interest in sex and, while your orgasms might not stop time (or do they?), I love the way Fraction calls us out on our shame and politely and humorously asks why we gotta feel this way.

I’m most familiar with Fraction’s work on the Hawkeye solo series where he takes the Avenger out of his role as a superhero and introduces us to an every day, self-deprecating guy with a penchant for doing nice things for people who could use a break, and getting himself in trouble for the right reasons. That same casual, personable feel exists in Sex Criminals, with characters that you can really empathize with.

So the “criminals” part. Right. That comes in when Suzanne discovers that her ability isn’t as unique as she thought. She meets Jon, whom she actually has a lot in common with and falls for even before she discovers that he can enter The Quiet too, (though he has another name for it). He gets to tell of his discovery of his ability, which a lot of guys can probably identify with. Jon has been using his time stopping abilities to cause a bit more trouble than Suzanne has ever imagined, and he convinces her to try it out for the sake of saving her beloved library. Unfortunately, they discover that they really, really aren’t unique in their abilities, as their antics are halted by the sex police.

Fraction’s sense of humour is light and fun. It’s impossible not to laugh at yourself through the course of the book, as much as you’re laughing at the characters and their situations. I’ve also learned the importance of reading *everything* in comics these days, but most especially comics that Fraction works on. His cheekiness spills into all the pages, cover to cover, and it’s great to see that Zdarsky shares that sense of humour, making for a great team.

Technically speaking, the story telling process is a bit troublesome. It begins with young Suzanne going through her motions, with older Suzanne fourth wall narrating over her shoulder. In present day, Suzanne occasionally breaks the fourth wall as well, looking at the ‘camera’ to deliver some lines. It takes a moment to grasp that, since narrative word boxes are also used to speak to the reader. This is not a deal breaking concern for me, though.

This is yet another winner from Image Comics, which continues to produce great, off the wall comics that push the boundaries of both the medium, and our sensibilities. Sex Criminals even earned itself an Apple ban, which means Fraction and Zdarsky are definitely doing something right.

Still not sold? Check out the first issue for free on Comixology.

With thanks to NetGalley and Image Comics for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this graphic novel in exchange for an honest review.

2 Comments on “Graphic Novel Review: Sex Criminals Volume 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky”

  1. Pingback: PANELS: Sex Criminals vol.1: One Weird Trick | The BiblioSanctum

  2. Pingback: Wendy: Best of 2014 | The BiblioSanctum

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