*SPOILER ALERT* This article contains spoilers for Sex Criminals #1-4
Even though there are only four issues out of Sex Criminals, the romance between its two lead characters Jon and Suzie has become one of my favorite relationships in comics. Jon and Suzie are a pair of bibliophiles stuck in dead-end jobs who share a big secret: they can stop time when they orgasm. Matt Fraction spends a good amount of time fleshing out Jon and Suzie’s backstories in each of the issues of Sex Criminals and shows how much they are meant for each other. They have common interests and goals, like saving the library from being foreclosed, but they also are the only people who can access the Cumworld or The Quiet. (Or are they.) Artist Chip Zdarsky does a great job showing The Quiet/Cumworld as a trippy, yet beautiful place where Jon and Suzie are free to be themselves. The differences in the name for the place where they “go” when they stop shows that Jon and Suzie aren’t clones and have different personalities shaped by their pasts.
And both Jon and Suzie have great personalities. Fraction’s dialogue is both witty and raunchy with references both highbrow and lowbrow. Jon and Suzie both bond over their love of the novel Lolita, but they also enjoy making fun of Jon’s favorite porn star Jazmine St. Cocaine. Fraction and Zdarsky provide a mix of over the top gags, like when Jon and Suzie wreck a porn store while being in the Quiet, and more intimate moments, like Jon telling Suzie about how he is happy that he has someone he can share his “secret” with. It is refreshing to see this kind of raw honesty in a comic about touchy subjects, like sex and relationships.
But between the Queen sing-a-longs, Jon and Suzie have their share of differences. Jon wants to use his powers more actively to rob the bank and save the library. He has always used his powers in this way even when he was younger and just switched out porn VCR tapes. Suzie is afraid about using her powers openly and thinks that people, like her roommate Rachel, might find out about her secret. This tension along with the introduction of the Sex Police in Sex Criminals #4 adds further complications to the star-crossed lovers’ relationship. I think that the Sex Police act as a big, weird metaphor for any kind of tension or problem in a new relationship. Jon and Suzie might have a lot of thing in common, but robbing banks isn’t really a normal date activity, especially for a new couple. The combination of the subtle, internal tension between Jon and Suzie as well as the threat of the Sex Police makes for suspenseful reading along with the well-developed characters and fun sex and literature jokes.
Along with the overall entertainment value of their shenanigans, what draws me to Jon and Suzie as a couple in Sex Criminals is the awkward, messy, and occasionally sexy nature of their relationship. They feel like regular young people with liberal arts degrees, who happen to have crazy, weird powers. Even though the flashbacks don’t move the overall plot of Sex Criminals forward, they continue to support the fact that Jon and Suzie are meant for each other. And I hope they find some way to get out of the Sex Police’s clutches and live happily ever after in a big house full of books. This is after I give them a lecture about ethics and superpowers.