They broke up, and now everything has changed… Your Major Spoilers review of Sex Criminals #21 awaits!

SEX CRIMINALS #21

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Chip Zdarsky
Colorist: Chip Zdarsky
Letterer: Chip Zdarsky
Editor: Thomas K
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Sex Criminals: “Jon & Suzie broke up, so now it’s like six months later?”

STEELING MYSELF FOR SADNESS

So. to date, ‘Sex Criminals’ has been the story of two people with strange abilities who found themselves together and did some incredibly stupid and destructive things together….

That part is done.

Six months after the big breakup in issue #20, we check back in with Jon, who is living in an apartment with his new friend, working in the porn shop he used to frequent and basically idling through his life with nothing to motivate him or make him happy.  When an invitation to a “fancy dress” party goes bad, he thinks that humiliation is the worst of it, until he sees that Suzie is also at the party.  And she also misunderstood “fancy dress.”  And that they’re both wearing the same Freddy Mercury costume.  It’s awwwkwaaard…

SOOOO INCREDIBLY AWKWARD

I honestly almost couldn’t bring myself to review this book, because it does such a good job of portraying the aftermath of a tough breakup and all the painful, stupid, existential, ridiculous awfulness that comes with it.  Fraction and Zdarsky have imbued Jon and Suzie and the entire supporting cast (many of whom get checked in with in these pages, including Myrtle Spurge, Jon’s psychiatrist, undercover Dewey working in a bank and even Jazmine St. Cocaine/Rae Anne, who foolishly asks Suzie to house-sit for her) with such life that seeing their relationship implode feels… too personal?  I don’t know, but I can tell you that this issue is a pretty amazing achievement, simmering in a strange mix of inertia, resentment and quiet sadness, and the end of the issue is heart-breaking, as Suzie finally admits how terribly $&#$ed up the whole situation is.  It’s hard to create this kind of drama, because the readers have to be fully immersed and involved in the characters, but Fraction & Zdarsky’s storytelling is worth the terrible price of admission and makes the reader feel the loss and vague overwhelming universal sadness of Jon and Suzie apart.

BOTTOM LINE: HOPING FOR A HAPPY ENDING

The fact that our protagonists make exactly the same silly mistake in these pages is a moment that will eventually be funny to them (it’s already funny to everyone else) but it’s also a sign that they’re perfect for one another and that they eventually have to work it all out, right?

Right?

When a comic makes you desperately want somebody to tell you it’s gonna be okay without disasters, explosions or alien clone monsters, you know it’s got to be a good’n, leaving Sex Criminals #21 with a quietly devastating 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  This is a book known for poking holes in anything that might be considered a traditional Hollywood romance cliché, though, so I’m prepared to be disappointed and steeling myself for a long arc of quiet desperation and silently shouting at these idiots to get themselves together.

[taq_review]

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About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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