In the last little while I have been trying my best to avoid the comic book store. It just gets to be too expensive. I walk in there thinking I am here for one things, until I reach the door I am focused on my specific task. But then I open the door and I want all the things; the comics, figures, memorabilia. I walk out in a daze, not remembering what happened, with multiple bags in my hand. Every time!
Anyways, the last time I was there I picked up a couple of books that were recommended to me. I was looking for something different outside of the regular Marvel and DC universes and just told some interesting stories.
Sex Criminals Volume One: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky published by Image Comics
I had seen this title around for a long time and was always tempted but afraid to pick it up. I mean it say “SEX CRIMINALS” in big bold letters across the front. I had no idea what kind of perviness awaited me in its pages. And I also felt kinda dirty wanting to read something called “SEX CRIMINALS”. Can you blame me? But I read some reviews online and a couple of friends actually recommended it assuring me that the title was accurate but it was not going to be what I expected. So I headed to the comic book store.
I couldn’t go straight for it as soon as I walked in so, very nonchalantly, I perused the store. After picking up a few things that caught my eye (DAMN YOU COMIC BOOK STORE!!!) I went for it. I touched a few of the books surrounding it, glanced over my shoulder to see who was paying attention and gingerly picked up the title. I put it at the bottom of my stack of purchases and headed to the cashier. I felt like that guy in the trench coat buying porn. We see you. We all see you. I was hoping no one could see me, I wasn’t wearing a trench after all. The cashier was scanning my purchases and as he got l closer I got more nervous. My shame was uncovered and he looked up at me. “This one is really great,” he said, a little too enthusiastically. “Oh yeah?” I tried to sound as calm as possible, “My friend recommended it.” We finished our transaction and I headed for the door.
So it turns out all the theatrics were not necessary. It was being sold in a comic book store after all (duh). The series isn’t about “sex criminals” as we use the term in its horrible connotation, it is about people who have sex and are criminals. Totally different.
When Suzie and Jon have sex they enter, what Suzie calls, The Quiet (Jon has a much more perverse name for it) where time literally stands still. After a bit of discussion and a look at their situation they decide to use that time to…rob banks. They are careful, only stealing small amounts so the problem isn’t noticed immediately. But they do catch the of the Sex Police, “…a secret paramilitary sex army keeping the world safe from deviants…” as it says in the book.
With a premise like that “Sex Criminals” could easily go very wrong – filled with dirty pics and lacking a real story – but the writers do a great job with this story. Suzie and Jon are full characters that are interesting and complex in a world that has done them no favours. In the pages of this comic you like this funny couple with an unconventional sex life. The layout is pretty conventional and the art is good but what really gets me is how they tell the story. They use some visual tricks to make it work. there are a lot of flashbacks and side stories that could seem out of place or affect the pacing but they are placed in the story seamlessly making the overall story fuller.
Yes, as the title and description suggest, there is a lot of nudity, scenes of a sexual nature, course language, and adult themes in this comic, so definately keep it from young impressionable minds. Â This trade has the first 5 issues of the series which provides a good solid set up for story, characters, and the world all of this is happening in. I am looking forward to Volume 2 hoping that they story continues being this good.
Pretty Deadly Volume 1: The Shrike by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Emma Rios. Published by Image Comics
Before it was recommended to me by a coworker I had never heard of the “Pretty Deadly” series. From what she said I obviously thought it was something that I would enjoy. Unfortunately I wasn’t very impressed.
I don’t think I can properly tell you what this story is about. There is a rabbit, a butterfly, a blind man, a child story teller with Heterochromia iridum, the daughter of death, and death himself. And it all takes place in the wild west. To me, at least, I found a lot of it confusing. But I think that was somewhat purposeful as this story is almost dream-like with spirits and demons drifting into the harsh beautiful landscape that was the wild west.
The visual style of the comic though is captivating. With a paler pallet it lends to the dreamy feel of the story coupled with soft lines that gives the illusion of movement. There are a lot of wind swept panels with blowing hair, fabric, tall grass, leaves, fire. If anything I am happy I bought this just to flip through the pages to take in some of the detail and beautiful imagery.
“Pretty Deadly” isn’t for a younger reading audience, there is nudity, course language, and it is intensely violent with a lot of blood. This trade has the first 5 issues of the series but to me this was a complete and finished story so I have no idea what they would be doing next. But this still isn’t something I am going to keep up with, it just didn’t appeal to me. I did not connect with the characters and the overall story wasn’t that great. If you are into comics purely for the visuals then this is for you but otherwise…meh.