Sex Criminals Volume 5: Five-Fingered Discount

Creators: Matt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky
Editing: Thomas K.
Production: Drew Gill
Managing Editor: Lauren Sankovitch

Review by Christoph Staffl

I want to start this review with a little disclaimer: I haven’t read Sex Criminals in a very long time. I stopped reading it after volume three, I think. And since I can’t remember where I ended, I figured this new volume would be an excellent re-entry point for me–especially after reading the synopsis:

Suzie and Jon have that special something — when they have sex, they freeze time and do crimes. Well — they HAD that special something. In the aftermath of what would appear to be a breakup, where do our two love-crazy time-freezing sex-having bank robbers go? REBOUND AHOY! Also, everything gets more dangerous and complicated? But it’s okay.

One thing that is always intriguing about Sex Criminals is the openness the characters talk about sex, masturbation, toys, and everything beyond and in-between. It seems fresh, like something that should be a more significant part of our world–not just some topics you talk about behind closed doors. This feeling starts right at the beginning with Jon’s new job at CumWorld. It seems like he created this brand, bringing the idea of the metaphysical CumWorld to the public.

At the same time, the other realm doesn’t play a big part in the storyline as it once did, which also brings a fresh feeling to the series. It focuses even more on the characters and how they cope with the new status quo. Though Jon has a great new job, his private life with his girlfriend is everything but. The same is true for Suzie. She moved back in with her mother, which comes with a lot of unwanted flashbacks to her youth and some unusual “encounters” with her mother’s “club.”

But it’s not just the characters who make this world so exciting and worthwhile. It is also the overall design of it. For example, the creators have a great sense of detail for the backgrounds. Be it the Apple-inspired marketing for CumWorld, the pieces in an art gallery, or the menu of a certain club, everything fits the bigger picture.

Speaking of the bigger picture: let’s talk about the power of sex for a moment, shall we? In the first couple of volumes of Sex Criminals, as far as I remember it, stopping time was the only magical-ish thing in the world, Fraction and Zdarsky created. But now, the power of ejaculation can have different outlets. I don’t want to spoil what this new power is, because discovering it on your own is just ridiculously funny. Let’s just say there is a giant machine involved. With tubes. And sockets. It’s crazy.

But that is not the only new thing we discover, and I wonder what else has a magical touch in this world. Besides the aforementioned new powers of ejaculation, one of the characters has confrontations with a long lost loved one. There seem to be a lot of stories hidden beneath the panels, floating in the gutter, and I am looking forward to the next volume.

The last thing I want to mention is the artwork. The creative team is spectacular at creating a different look for each scene. The color palette not only fits the mood, it’s also unique for each location–ingrained with a pinch of sparkle or a specific hue to hint at the power of sex or a flashback. It is also worth stating that the panel structure builds organically around the scenes and the needs of every specific moment.

The design of the page is particularly important when it comes to creating a natural, smooth flow for the eye. The captions and the panels are never confusing but guide you elegantly through the pages. We take this sometimes for granted, not thinking about the work and talent that comes along with such a great overall design. 

The Verdict: Buy it.

Volume 5 of Sex Criminals is not just a great continuation but also a fantastic re-entry point for readers like me. It was as if I never left this world. Everything feels familiar, and I wanted to stay longer, accompanying the characters in their journeys. Sex Criminals is fantastic and a great example of why I have so many Image books in my collection.

Christoph Staffl

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