Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky have mastered the art of juxtaposition, and each issue of SEX CRIMINALS guarantees a cleverly-balanced combination of juvenile giggles and serious introspective thinking. They provoke lighthearted laughs with sexually-charged jokes that have a self-deprecating edge, but remind us that the book is really about humans -- humans who have hopes and fears and emotional baggage. It's a hard balance to strike, but SEX CRIMINALS is consistently good at being multi-dimensional.
Five issues in, the quirky high concept of people who think about committing crimes during their special time-stopping "Quiet" has proven to be a surprisingly solid base for a story about human beings. Sure, there's a lot of weird stuff going on, but there's also a very consistent, very sincere narrative about the way relationships develop and evolve. Amidst the sex toy jokes and interactions with the Sex Police, we get to watch human emotions develop, and we take a trip into Serious Town as Jon admits that he's off his meds.
Creatively, Fraction and Zdarsky are in perfect sync -- it's not a matter of the art driving the narrative or vice-versa, because they're both forging ahead in the same direction. The swirly "Quiet" wouldn't be as meaningful without bright, trippy streaks of color, nor would the seriousness of the Criminals' conversations sink in without just the right scripting -- it's a great sequential tandem.
You know how sometimes a song gets stuck in your head, and there's nothing you can do to stop it? The word "kegelface" is doing that to me right now, and I can't look at people who are making serious or strained faces without thinking of that word. Which means…I'm basically laughing at people who are in the least likely mood to appreciate it.
SEX CRIMINALS is a rare breed of comic book; it's simultaneously hilarious and thought-provoking, pairing bedroom humor with genuinely human moments (and the occasional ethical question). Neither side is over-the-top -- every dildo joke is balanced with commentary on people, relationships, and rules. It's tempered and thoughtful in ways that might surprise (given all of those dildo jokes), and SEX CRIMINALS is a positively excellent addition to any (adult) pull list.