What happens when a character loses interest in the central conceit of the story? Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky bring that question front and center in “Sex Criminals” #15, where the concept of robbing banks hits home for Suzie, even as Robert and Rachel’s relationship hits a major bump and trouble comes home to roost.
This third story arc of “Sex Criminals” has not only introduced new characters who also possess orgasm-linked powers, but also brought up a larger point about Jon and Suzie’s ethical behavior (or lack thereof) as they rob banks; Robin Hood is, after all, a great character for stories, but not quite as admirable in reality. In many ways, “Sex Criminals” #15 is the culmination of that plot thread, as Suzie both unleashes My Little Library boxes into the neighborhood and tells Jon she’s no longer interested in robbing banks.
It’s a big turning point for the comic, which has admittedly become less about the crime and more about relationships, not only between people, but between people and sex. In doing so, it’s become that much more intriguing, so seeing the crime nature drop even lower in the grand scheme of things is a fascinating turn of events. Regardless of what Fraction has in mind for the future of the comic, the story has carefully led up to this moment for quite some time.
At the same time, Fraction doesn’t lose sight of everything else that’s worked so well over the course of the series. As Rachel and Robert’s relationship falls apart, their jealousy and feelings of inadequacy ring remarkably true to anyone who’s ever experienced or witnessed that kind of relationship speed bump. It’s a great depiction of human nature and all of the neuroses that are bound up in sex; Rachel and Robert are great for each other, but — because of that — these problems crop and magnify quickly. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if the stakes weren’t so important, especially for Robert. Fraction brings that seething ball of emotions onto the page in a way that few comics have so accurately depicted.
Zdarsky’s art is a key part of this puzzle. So many little moments — like Jon staring up at the ceiling in frustration or Robert’s increasingly distressed expressions at brunch — make the emotional turmoil seem that much realer. Even the stone-faced Myrtle gets in on the act, so to speak; she feels that much more intriguing when we see her reactions to her attempts to steal the files as well as the aftermath of her actions. Zdarsky’s art is so expressive that it takes a book with its emotions on its proverbial sleeve and gives it the needed-power to bring it all home to the readers.
“Sex Criminals” #15 is another good chapter in this series, complete with a solid cliffhanger to assure readers that the more out-there aspects of the book haven’t been forgotten. Where are we going from here? Darned if I know, but I’m dying to find out. Fraction and Zdarsky continue to make “Sex Criminals” one of the freshest and most original series on sale.