Creators: Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky
Publisher: Image Comics
SPOILER ALERT! This review discusses the entirety of Sex Criminals so far, including specific plot details from issue #26, which is available at your local comic shop at time of publication.
They’re baaaaaack. Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky are diving into one last arc of Sex Criminals, starting with today’s issue #26, and despite more than a year’s hiatus, they haven’t lost any momentum. And true to form, they even acknowledge that hiatus in-verse, right on the first page, as well as in a letter from Fraction in the back of the issue. I won’t spoil it, but I will say I appreciate the honesty — especially if it means my favorite comic will end on the right note.
When last we saw Suze and Jon, they were back together and figuring out how to get out of their own way and be happy. Of course, the world has other plans; they still have to deal with Badal and the bank and whatever else wants to stand in their way, so Sex Criminals #26 deals with that. Mostly, though, it deals with Suze and Jon trying to navigate their individual trauma, in a way that not only feels genuine to the characters but genuine to real life.
Trauma is a tricky thing, and it registers differently for different people. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has different forms. Mental health isn’t always cut and dry, and the things we think aren’t a big deal when they’re happening could have dire and lasting consequences as we age.
Given that Sex Criminals is ostensibly a book about fucking and sticking it to The Man, it may seem bizarre that it so deftly handles mental illness, but it does. I’ve written about this before, but as the series continues, I’m continually in awe of how Fraction and Zdarsky tackle this topic, even as they make metatextual jokes about writing comics or about their own creative processes. (There are also lots of sex jokes, obviously. The sex jokes definitely aren’t going anywhere.)
So, Sex Criminals #26 isn’t particularly funny, for a funny book. But that’s OK. With seven issues left including this one, the characters still have a lot of unpacking and growing to do, and of course, Fraction and Zdarsky still have to wrap up the plotty bits, which potentially include Suze having prophetic dreams and definitely include Jon somehow ending up in jail.
The end of this issue made me shout, “Wait, what?!” out loud, which was probably the point. Whatever happens next, these two are going to have to get through it together — but they finally seem to be on the same page about that, which is encouraging. We love a happy ending.
Now that the heroes and villains are working together to take down the Big Bad, they’ve got to figure out how, which feels like a satisfying way to pull this whole story together and end it on a high note. These characters have been through a lot, and they still don’t trust each other completely, which is totally valid. The tension is earned, and it’s explored well in Sex Criminals #26, and I’m genuinely excited to see where the story goes from here.
It seems like the time away did what Fraction hoped: it reinvigorated the story, which was never lacking, but could have easily tripped and fallen into awfulness if he and Zdarsky had kept going without the passion that makes this book so damn good.
If you haven’t read Sex Criminals, now is the perfect time to catch up; barreling into the sixth and final arc, this comic continues to prove itself worthy of top praise.