No relationship that actually lasts can be built just on sex. That’s something Sex Criminals has been dealing with from its first issue, really, as Jon and Suze discovered their sex-based superpowers, used them to freeze time, knocked over a bank, and discovered they’ll fallen afoul of what turned out to be really nothing more than an exceptionally petty set of busybodies. So where do they go from here?
Amusingly, this issue, the first in nearly a year, is a good place to pick up the comic, as Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky spend the first several pages recapping the plot, reintroducing the characters, and making fun of themselves for ditching the book on a cliffhanger for so long. And it’s a fitting start, because Jon and Suze are essentially back to zero, both in their war on said busybodies and emotionally.
The issue turns out to be about how you build a relationship beyond just having sex. Neither of the protragonists are terribly mature, but they’re trying, and it adds up to an oddly affecting issue. Anybody who’s been in a long-term relationship can grasp as Fraction and Zdarsky sum up a key turning point, when you shift from thinking about the present to thinking about the future. This is rare stuff for comics, let alone one that featured a hentai demon made entirely of bodily fluids, and it emphasizes that Sex Criminals is for adults not in the sense of its content, but in the issues the book covers.
The Wild Storm #1, DC Comics
Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt revive the very ’90s Wildstorm universe, a fictional realm dominated by biological experiments and secret conspiracies. But, hilariously, Ellis takes the perspective that trying to secretly run the world is an exasperating business. Things are always going wrong, people annoyingly give themselves superpowers or become aliens without telling you, and sometimes all you have is a bottle of whiskey with a little polonium in it, just to build a tolerance to poison. Davis-Hunt draws the whole thing with the clean feel of an engineering schematic, giving Ellis’ gallows humor a deadpan feel while showing off with some fun action sequences. This relaunch is worth picking up, whether you’re nostalgic for the ’90s or not.
Dead Inside #3, Dark Horse
Every time you think John Arcudi and Toni Fejzula’s story about an impossible murder inside a prison can’t get more twisty or compelling, they prove you wrong. A jail crimes detective is unraveling a complicated case and uncovering secrets left and right, not all of them related to the case, and some of them with consequences our heroine can’t control. To talk about the book any more would ruin it, but it’s a superb crime story in any medium.
Kill Or Be Killed #6, Image Comics
Sean Phillips and Ed Brubaker continue their brilliant deconstruction of the vigilante genre with an issue laying out how it all goes wrong for Dylan. It turns out that sooner or later, when you run around in a mask shooting people in the face, somebody puts it together that you’re a serial killer. Brubaker has some subtle commentary here both on what a self-pitying brat Dylan really is and how the machinery of the police works against solving crimes, and how the police use the press to break logjams.
Savage #4, Valiant
B. Clay Moore and Clayton Henry wrap up their reinvention of the pulp tropes surrounding Tarzan and Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World with an action-packed climax and an interesting cliffhanger. Moore has been careful not to explain too much about what’s happening, but the careful updating of the pulps has been a fascinating read, not least because they’ve proven more durable than some might think. The main question, of course, is how this’ll tie into Valiant’s other superhero books, but it seems likely we haven’t heard the last of Savage.
Batwoman Rebirth, DC Comics: Marguerite Bennett, James Tynion IV, and Velvet artist Steve Epting deliver everything you need to know about Batwoman in one compelling issue.
James Bond: Hammerhead #5, Dynamite: Andy Diggle’s action-packed story also has what one suspects will be the first of many digs at Brexit and Trump as a plot point.
Black Panther: World of Wakanda #4, Marvel: Roxane Gay’s story of the matriarchal warriors of Wakanda, and the unjustly forbidden romance between two of them, continues to be both a fun action book and a compelling soap opera worthy of Douglas Sirk.
Super Sons #1, DC Comics: Peter Tomasi and Jorge Jimenez deliver a silly, fun story of Robin and Superboy teaming up and getting into what counts as shenanigans when you’re a ninja and a Kryptonian.
The Forever War #1, Titan: Joe Haldemann’s classic SF take on the Vietnam War translates surprisingly well to the comics page.
This Week’s Collected Editions
Angel Catbird Vol. 2: To Castle Catula, Dark Horse (Hardcover, $15): Margaret Atwood‘s Golden Age-esque superhero is back and more pulpy than ever in a delightful sequel.
Runaways Vol. 2: Teenage Wasteland, Marvel (Softcover, $15): The teen heroes on the run from their supervillain parents get a much-deserved new printing of their comic.
Batgirl: A Celebration Of 50 Years, DC Comics (Hardcover, $40): Batgirl gets her due with a nice hardcover containing some of her most interesting stories.