• Sex Criminals Volume 5 – Five Fingered Discount (Image Comics) Comic Review



    Sex Criminals Volume 5 – Five Fingered Discount
    Released by: Image Comics
    Released on: August 22nd, 2018.
    Written by: Matt Fraction
    Illustrated by: Chip Zdarsky
    Purchase From Amazon

    This latest collected edition compiles Sex Criminals issues #21 through 25.

    Six months after his breakup with Suzie, Jon spends a lot of time in Cum World. He realizes the irony of this but he tells himself he’s fine with it. Really, he’s working in a sex shop and sharing an apartment with a lesbian named Polly. Everything is fine. He keeps telling himself this.

    Meanwhile, a guy named Dewey works as a banker. He’s undercover. After he sees Myrtle Spurge manually deposit her check for the third time he meets with Jon and the others at a diner to tell them about it. Why doesn’t she use direct deposit like everyone else? We see her go shopping, run into Dr. Kincaid and his new pal Ana Kincaid. It’s a little awkward but Myrtle likes the fact that she’s still in his head a little bit.

    Pol reminds Jon that they’re going to a fancy dress party. He thinks it’s a costume party so when he arrives and sees Pol in a black cocktail dress, he feels pretty stupid having shown up dressed like Freddy Mercury. At least when he gets there he sees one other person, ironically, the same costume – it’s Suzie, now going by Suzanne. She’s there with her new boyfriend, Geoff Queen, who just so happens to work with Polly. In fact, he’s her boss.

    We flashback to some of Suzanne’s time with Geoff – he’s not good in bed, he’s not that exciting… he’s not Jon. He knows a lot about art and wants everyone to know that, rambling on about things that clearly bore Suzie. But if he isn’t ‘the one’ he is at least mature and responsible. She winds up moving back in with her mom who has essentially built a ‘museum to the way things used to be’ since her father passed away. She’s also really into her vagina and is getting more action than Suzy. She tells herself everything is fine.

    The first issue to take place in a post Jon/Suzie breakup world is an interesting one. We’re basically playing catch up here, learning what Jon’s been up to, what Suzie has been up to, and how they’re clearly unhappy without each other even if they have both moved on in their own way. There’s a lot of good humor here – a trademark of the series from the start – and some of the zanier sexual elements are back, though not on the level of some of the more absurd issues. But like that issue that came before this one, there’s still a focus on the heavier, more dramatic side of the story. Fraction did such a damn good job of getting us to care about Jon and Suzie that, now that they’re no longer an item, we care about them. The sadness that was such a big part of issue #20 is still here, albeit on a smaller scale than that fairly devastating issue. But it works. It’s the right mix of humor, drama and yes, even romance. The human element has always been what made Sex Criminals worth reading and what gave the series its staying power. That hasn’t changed.

    Zdarksy’s art is as good here as it’s ever been, maybe even a little better. We don’t get the swirling, psychedelic full page perversions that some issues have had but we get more ‘little things’ and in a way, that’s more impressive. The look on Jon and Suzie’s faces when they see each other at the party, Suzie’s expression when she’s alone watching a geriatric cat clean itself, the recreated memories in Suzie’s mother’s house – little things like that add a lot and complement the writing perfectly.

    Once we get to the first page of issue #22, Suzie is about to leave her mom’s place where she’s been staying. Her mom is really into getting into touch with her own sexuality, so there are erotic paintings and dildos about. She’s got her SplaskKween Ejaculation Workshop going on tonight so she needs the car. Suzy, quite understandably, doesn’t really know how to deal with this. So instead of dealing with it she just cancels her date with Geoff, who isn’t happy that he’s wasted sixty-nine dollars a piece on tickets. The fact that her mom has painstakingly recreated their old family home in a new house freaks her out. She has memories of her father. In fact, she just might converse with him over an old DOS based computer.

    Jazmine is getting ready for bed, but she can’t quite convince the shrink, Dr. Glass, to come with her – he’s got work to do and sits downstairs alone, playing on his laptop. She’s annoyed, so she gets dressed and heads out, tells him not to wait up. Is he in love with her, for real, or in love with Jazmine St. Cocaine, the porn star she once posed as… or someone else altogether?

    Jon sits with Dewey and Alix. Dewey is convinced they’re ‘all effed’ and tells the other two that he quits. And then he tells them why, but we won’t spoil that here, let it suffice to say he got pinched doing something he shouldn’t have in the name of the mission. Now they have to figure out how to ‘burn down the cloud.’ Elsewhere, In the Badalcorp offices Kegelface, or Myrtle if you prefer, and Kuber talk about how they have to keep things secret, they don’t want people like them to be turned into lab rats. The conversation turns into an argument. Elsewhere again, John and Polly head to a sex club but he knows he can’t erase heartbreak with sex no matter how hard he tries.

    Issue #23? Jon walks into the room with a towel around his waist, various participants using a swing or any other prop handy to get it on. Couples, three-ways, straight or gay, it’s all going on right in front of him and all of a sudden it’s he that looks like the square. He looks around and then makes eye contact with a woman in a harness – Jazmine St. Cocaine is doing what the world believes she does best. The fact that she who he came with is still in there leaves him without a ride when he decides it’s time to leave. Good thing there’s a bus nearby. Elsewhere, supporting characters brush their teeth and masturbate to Guillermo Del Toro themed smut.

    Jon wakes up at home and finds Polly in his room. She left the club, a bit irritated that there wasn’t enough lesbian action there for her liking. Before she splits she gets him off of his phone and reminds him of that ‘thing’ he’s got to do tonight…

    …at which point we see him bolt from this bed and run to where he was supposed to meet up with Alix. She’s still there waiting for him but she’s not happy. He needs to get off and she needs to… jump in front of a bus. They talk, as they should, and then she goes for it.

    In the Baldacorp building, a certain high ranking executive named Mr. Badal gets intimate with some of the machinery on the premise, writes down some numbers once he spurts, while Suzie comes to love her job and become increasingly confused with her mother while simultaneously becoming disenfranchised with the local art scene.

    Vague enough for you?

    Suzy stands in the art museum staring at a painting – just as she’s about to touch it, her new boyfriend busts her and yells at her. She was about to defile a priceless masterpiece, one that could never be replaced. After he yells at her she corrects him – he said it was a Picasso, but it was really a Van Gogh. She calls him a pretentious prick, tells him to fuck off and leave, her phone ringing in her pocket as she goes. She’s excited to get a text from ‘ThatFuckinGuy.’

    Elsewhere, two gay men walk and talk as they stroll through the park. They talk about having to have led secret lives, about coming out, and about how one man realized that the ‘secret me’ he saw as a hero really was a part of him after all – not a pretend character like he first thought, but a real flesh and blood person. They kiss.

    Suzy sits at home trying to summon up the courage to text Jon back. She misses him. She distracts herself by going over her late father’s books and in doing so discovers that he just might have been up to something involving mortgage securities, inside trading, a pending stock market crash and fraud. She sends the text to Jon and then realizes her mother has set the house on fire.

    Jon, meanwhile, is having lunch with Alix. He gets Suzy’s text, and flees, telling his lunch-mate that he’s going to be late for work before he dashes out the door. Which isn’t entirely untrue. We cut to the store where Jon works, where he runs into George and his husband Ron. George addresses Jon as the ‘King Of Cum World’ and then Jon splits, heads to his apartment where he fesses up to Polly about his feelings for Suzy, how he’s not over her. She takes it as well as anyone could, but still needs him to leave.

    And then we head to the roller rink.

    This one ends on a pretty heavy cliffhanger. This issue, like many before it, is all about relationships but maybe more so than ever before. Obviously Jon and Suzy miss one another and are making steps to correct that –we kind of saw that coming, it makes total sense given who they are, what they meant to one another and what they’d been through together –but there’s more to it than that. This issue also deals with Suzy’s relationship with her mother, her late father and we presume the pretentious dick she dumped in the art gallery. All this while Jon sorts things out with Alix and Polly and the gay dudes seem to be taking the next step together. There’s even more to it than that but we don’t get to get even more spoilery than we already have. It’s a deep issue, written with the depth, warmth and most importantly humor that Matt Fraction has made such a huge part of this series’ success.

    Chip Zdarsky’s art hasn’t changed much since the series began, but that’s a good thing. The book’s trademark look is here, just as it should be, and once again there’s a lot of fun detail in the backgrounds of certain panels for those who want to look for them (pay attention to the scenes where Jon is at work or the details of what is on Suzy’s computer screen, for example). Things have been a little slow in the last few issues, not dull, but a bit more somber and dramatic than what came before – clearly, if this twenty-fourth issue is any indication, that was the calm before the storm – or if not the storm, the moment of catharis. We won’t spoil that last chapter in the book.