(w) Matt Fraction (a) Chip Zdarsky
Heterosensual life chums Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky continue Sex Criminals with Sex Criminals Volume 5: Five-Fingered Discount. For those of you who have been trade waiting the series, the fifth volume is a must-read as characters continue to develop, and their relationships with one another are expanded upon.
The volume starts with issue 21, which opens with Jon working at the shiny, new, conspicuously Apple Store-like CumWorld after his breakup with Suzie. He has continued to develop the plan to take out the big bad of the series, Kuber Badal while also exploring his own desires both sexually and emotionally with his new girlfriend Polly. At the same time, Suzie begins settling down with an older artist with a bizarre fascination with hilariously sexual art installations. Throughout the book, a lot of character development takes place in the main cast, with old enemies becoming allies, and a couple of twists and turns along the way.
It seemed the general consensus for the series overall was that the last collected volume spun its tires a little, with nothing seemingly happening of note, besides the big breakup towards the end. Fraction has placed his foot back on the gas pedal, particularly with Jon’s development. Jon, as we have seen in the past, has been struggling with his own mental health and how it affects his relationship with those around him (medication, their effects on him, etc) and this comes to a head in this volume. Suzie’s mother is reintroduced in this volume as a recovering alcoholic who has discovered a newfound appreciation for her sexual prowess. Her interactions with her daughter are at first hysterical and seem at first to be just another running gag in the series actually turns out to be a touching relationship between the two.
Over the past several volumes, Fraction’s ability to write realistic characters has been one of the most well received aspects of the series. It should come as no surprise that this continues here. Despite the backdrop of sex and general hilarity that takes place, a series that at first was penned only as a funny book about dicks has become a fan favorite, with many readers finding solace in characters they oftentimes see themselves in. This is all thanks to Fraction’s continued devotion to tapping into the general awkwardness of being in a relationship and figuring yourself out all at the same time.
Zdarsky continues to absolutely nail the art in this book, doing double duty with drawing and coloring. Warm, bright colors fill the pages, with some environments having their own color scheme, such as Badal’s office, accentuated with different shades of red, oftentimes with an entire page dedicated to one color as its general aesthetic. The backgrounds continue to provide witty and oftentimes hilarious advertisements for readers to enjoy.
Sex Criminals Volume 5: Five-Fingered Discount seems to find its footing once again with this release. Personally, I feel the ending will be happening sooner rather than later, as the story seems to be gearing up for its final arc in the last chapter of the volume.