It's a real thrill to find a comic book that's funny, dramatic, real, fantasy-filled, and thoroughly original.  It's also about sex.  Sex Criminals vol. 1: One Weird Trick collects the first five issues of this terrific series.  And like Y: The Last Man, it's a premise that sounds like a porno but is actually very adult -- er, mature -- er, well done.

Written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky, Sex Criminals opens in the middle of Suzie and Jon in trouble in a bank.  Suzie then narrates their story in a series of flashbacks.  Suzie had a rough childhood: Her father was killed at a bank, her mother was distant from her, and she was ostracized at school.  When she has her first sexual experience (alone, in a bathtub), time seems to stop and the world seems to be full of psychedelic lights.  And in her case it's literally true: For a while after she climaxes, time freezes for everyone around her, everything goes quiet, and she can interact with the frozen people and things around her.

Suzie tries to learn about this, but she hits a virtual brick wall of lack of information.  The "bad" girls at school tell her a variety of bizarre and humorous sexual positions, her doctor is no help, and her mother calls her a whore.  She winds up at a library, which inspires her to become a librarian.  Unfortonately, her library is about to be foreclosed on by the bank.

 At a library fundraiser, Suzie meets Jon.  He's funny, intelligent (quoting Lolita when they meet), handsome, and he wants to be an actor but is a secretary.  And when they wind up in bed, afterwards they're both amazed that the other isn't frozen in time:
 It turns out that Jon has the same power as Suzie.  His backstory is similar to Suzie's, but with several differences that highlight the differences between men and women.  While Suzie tried to figure out what was going on, Jon used his ability to pillage his local porn store.  ("I literally must have stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars of porn from this place over the years."  "Boy.  That's gotta be like... seventeen pornos at these prices.")  While Suzie calls the frozen-time experience "the Quiet," he calls it "Cumworld," after the name of the aforementioned porn store.  But despite their differences, Suzie and Jon are thrilled with each other and to have found someone like themselves.
 Jon also has a plan to save the library: They use their power to enter the Quiet/Cumworld, rob some banks, and donate the money anonymously to the library.  Suzie isn't sure about this, while Jon seems a little too eager: "It's less than one thousandth of a percent of their annual budget on fucking lobby pens, Suze."  This leads to helping the library, but also to Suzie learning some unpleasant things about Jon as well.

Oh, there's also a trio of people in white who call themselves the Sex Police who seen determined to stop Suzie and Jon.

There is so very much I like about Sex Criminals.  While the idea of an orgasm-fueled superpower may seem crazy (even for comic books), it's treated initially as a typical adolescent discovery and exploration of sexuality, whether not finding information or overindulging in the discovery.  There's plenty of humor here, from the numerous details of Jon's porno store ("OBAMACORE: Medical/socialist themed," "MEN FUCKING LESBIANS: Everyone's Having a Horrible Time!") to a musical number where the comic book folks couldn't get the rights to print the song lyrics.  The relationship between Suzie and Jon also rings very true, from the initial infatuation and euphoria to the concerns when learning more about each other may be worrisome and troubling.  And the big bank robbery leads to more action and complications -- plus a cliffhanger that has me eagerly waiting for the second volume.  Sex Criminals is certainly for adults only, and it shows just how much comic books can offer adults. (The trade paperback has quite a few extras: a photoshopped ad, the alternate covers, and their full list of "ultimate sex moves" that did and didn't make it into the comic.)
Overall grade: A+
Reviewed by James Lynch

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