Sunday, 11 September 2016

Sex Criminals Vol 3: Three the Hard Way by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Sex Criminals Vol 3: Three the Hard Way written by Matt Fraction and illustrated Chip Zdarsky is, obviously, the third volume in the ongoing Sex Criminals comic book series. It collects issues #11–15 and pretty continues the story where Volume 2 left off. I don't particularly recommend reading this volume if you haven't already read the earlier volumes/comics. The blurb below and this review will also contain some spoilers for the earlier volumes.

So it turns out Jon and Suzie aren't alone ― other people around the world, like them, freeze time when they climax. A self-appointed group wants to regulate and control them through fear and intimidation. Jon and Suzie are falling in love and want their freak flags to fly, but if they're going to fight back they can't do it alone.

And really, isn't that a metaphor for the whole series? That we might all be alone but we're all alone together? I think so. 

Following on directly from the events in the previous issues, Volume 3 of Sex Criminals deals with John and Suzi investigating and coming to terms with other people who have their time-stopping powers. Of course, like the first group of time stoppers they met, not everyone automatically wants to be friends with them, so things get a little hairy for them.

My favourite thing about this volume was the introduction of a new asexual character, which is especially interesting and cool given the basic premise of "having orgasms stops time". The character didn't get a huge amount of page time, but I'm hoping that will change in the future, especially given the cliffhanger ending. We got a decent amount of backstory, though, and I appreciated the overall way in which the character was introduced.

I didn't hate but was less fond of the meta-commentary that popped up every so often. Issue 14 in particular broke a fourth wall a little bit too hard for my tastes. Not so much because it was bad commentary (it was funny too) but it did slow down the story and, well, even admitted to being masturbatory. So there's that.

On a more positive note, I found the characters more likeable too, especially John. We also see the relationship between Joh and Suzi growing and becoming more meaningful and less based on "oh, hey, you stop time when you orgasm too??! Let's go rob a bank!" Presumably this will be a trend that continues in subsequent comics.

Overall, I would recommend this volume to people who have read the earlier Sex Criminals issues/volumes and want to continue the story. This is definitely not a good place to start and if you hated the earlier books I don't see this one changing your mind unless you really like fourth-wall-breaking commentary or were hanging out for the sensitive introduction of an asexual character.

4 / 5 stars

First published: June 2016, Image Comics
Series: Sex Criminals volume 3 of ongoing series containing issues #11–15
Format read: Trade paperback
Source: Real life comic book shop (although I've forgotten in which country)

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