Comics on the can – SEX (issue #6)

GameStop, Inc.

Comics on the can

SEX

Issue #6

 

Writer – Joe Casey Art – Piotr Kowalski

 

Previously on COMICS ON THE CAN…

Dinosaurs with mini-guns…

Kool-Aid Man as an analogy for late era capitalism…

Black Panther after literally years of promising…

Six dimensional nazis vs mutants…

AVN Awards recap paired with a JLA new 52 clusterfuck…

A weak sauce comic book adaptation of an 80’s video game…

A bizarre Transformer/Schick razor cross promotional hack job…

A bunch of free comics including Rick, A little girl with an axe and “Hot Picard”…

An 80’s action movie parody you can’t help but hear Kenny Loggins singing on every page…

And more dinosaurs with mini-guns…

You can tell that comics cover a wide variety of utterly strange subject matter and even though only two of the ten above mentioned books were superhero joints (one with an explanation) it is the most used genre in America. At least that WAS the case for a long time. With the blasting open of the indie comics scene, the advent of digital distribution methods and a host of creators launching projects that aren’t superhero but still comic books the medium has, IMO grown and arguably matured. A lot of that can be credited to the renaissance of Image comics. What started out as a launching point for MORE superhero comics has become the go to for the prestige high concept different comic book. Break-out hits like Walking Dead, Saga, Manhattan Projects and Chew all brought something new or at least distinct, to the medium. Superheroes have persisted of course; plenty of Spawn, Hit Girl and Youngblood to name a few. Image has also produced (technically just distributed) some hybrids of the Superhero genre where a book has more mature themes and perspective. When I say mature, I don’t necessarily mean grim and gritty… I mean grown up subjects and experienced explorations using Superheroes as a jumping off point.

I know that “Sex” is one of these types of books. Joe Casey has done his time in the superhero mines and done some damn good work there. Obviously there were other themes scratching around in his head while writing and/or thinking about guys and girls dressed up in costumes beating the crap out of one another. In particular what everyone does AFTER they stop doing that kinda crap. SEX asks the question “What does Bruce Wayne do after he stops being Batman?” And even more importantly: “What does Gotham do?”  

SEX is about billionaire philanthropist Simon Cooke who at one time was a costumed vigilante called “Armored Saint”. Sound familiar? Two years previous to the starting of the book Cooke stopped being Armored Saint and bolted from his home turf, Saturn City. I’m not sure as to the “why” but the city moved on. Now Simon is back but the Saint isn’t. The book, I assume because that’s what I got from reading it, is interested in the dynamics of what happens AFTER; the power shifts, the ones left behind and the ones influenced either directly or indirectly by the events in the past. Casey says as much in the afterword letters column referring to “Post Experience fiction” which is to say exploring what happens after an event or interesting situation. Think “The Leftovers” or “Ex Machina” (the comic). Such a time period can be fertile ground for character exploration, recurring themes and world building. Simon was The Armored Saint. Now he’s not. How does this affect his former rogues gallery, the bad guys that don’t know a world with the Saint, and the people that looked up to this hero? What would the Joker do if Batman just ditched? How would the Penguin change his criminal empire without the Bat breathing down his neck? What about all those potential Robins out there with nothing but legends to work off of?

Of course you’d never know that from reading issue six cold. An uninformed read of this particular issue presents SEX as white collar crime story with some street level shenanigans pulling at the dangling threads. Indeed that is the plot mechanics of this story arc at least. I only know about the superhero aspect of the book from researching what little I could find online, the letters column and hearsay. To the book’s credit the (quite naturalistic) dialogue works without the knowledge of the backstory. Issue six does play like a “moving the pieces” episode of a serialized cable crime drama. I honestly don’t mean that as a dig or even a backhanded compliment. Such episodes are an integral part of those kind of shows. The characters and what they say are intriguing enough (if done right) to keep you around. Sure there is sex and violence in something like “Animal Kingdom” but the lion’s share of the show is the characters using words as tools and weapons. SEX doesn’t feel that much different.

There is a lot of talking in a book titled SEX to be sure but that’s what grown ups do for the most part… talk. They badger, convince, cajole, explore, question, threaten and strategize with words. Joe Casey gets this and it seems to me that the slow burn/absence of people being punched through walls is exactly what he’s aiming for. By this point maybe the Armored Saint has returned in the series, maybe he hasn’t. He may never return. Casey and crew don’t seem that concerned with going back to a superhero book anytime soon. What they are doing is interesting all in itself.

 

THOUGHTS TANGENTIAL TO THE MAIN BODY OF THE COLUMN BUT I COULDN’T FIT IN ORGANICALLY

 

After reading this, which has been sitting in our set cart for the better part of the season, I found I had very little to say about it. Not that it wasn’t good; this issue was, as I said, a transitional issue plot wise. I couldn’t ding it for that. To the book’s credit I was able to grok on what was going on without knowing much going IN. Made it tough to draw on the snark though.

I thought of setting up a gag about expecting this comic to be drenched in boobs and coitus and not getting that but my free form style went in a different direction. More dick jokes next time, promise.

Speaking of the second scene Kowalski isn’t afraid to go widescreen when he gets a chance. There is a top half of two page spread of Saturn City that is hella impressive. Most of the books panels play in medium and full shots along with some wide establishing shots but every frame feels rightly constructed for the tension building in the text.

Brad Simpson does the colors, drenching the panels with character specific or content specific colors. The anal rape scene is, understandably, soaked in a violent red. It also boosts the tension and creates emotional subtext. If nothing else SEX is a hell of a book to LOOK at.

The only odd flourish is the lettering which has particular words highlighted in different colors. It wasn’t distracting, mostly, but I do feel I was missing something.

As for the sex part of SEX that has a grown-up approach too, for the most part. In the second scene the mayor of Saturn city is trying to get Simon more involved in the affairs of the town. Smart people circling one another with words. Meanwhile one of the Mayor’s aids asks Simon’s assistant out. It come across as smart, a little playful and sexy. Another scene has an aging socialite reveal fishnet stockings and garter while talking to another main character about a young man’s stamina.

There is also an anal rape and a cunnilingus scene.

The letters column “Dirty talk” is something you don’t see a lot nowadays. This particular column was pretty insightful about the backstory of SEX and Casey’s thoughts about creating the book.

There are a lot of good basic cable dramas out there. Animal Kingdom was just the first that sprung to mind.

Ellen Barkin is a character nicknamed Smurf on that show.

Not sure WHY. Just felt like pointing that out.

Ok, one dick joke: A pirate with a steering wheel sticking out of his pants walks into a bar. He saddles up and says “Yar, Bartender, gimme a drink!’

“Why sure, Mr Pirate, but did you know you have a steering wheel sticking out of your pants?”

“YAR, it’s driving me nuts!”

 

NEXT: Maybe Jupiter Rising or, if I do a sprawling multi column crossover recap of the AVN Awards, then later…

 

LATER: Whatever is in the box or I decide to look at in my plethora of books waiting near my throne.

Anytime Costumes

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