Sex Criminals #23 by Writer Matt Fraction and Artist Chip Zdarsky
This issue of Sex Crimz continues to build on the seemingly apathetic state of the central characters as they try to figure out their place in the world romantically and sexually. Since Suzie and Jon’s separation in the previous arc, each issue has been roughly split in half, giving each character a portion of the book to explore their stories. Additionally, through expanding rifts in the relationships of peripheral characters in the story, it seems as if Fraction is creating a sort-of divergence in the way characters approach their sexuality and sexual identity–identified through their relationship to Jon and Suzie–which in the context of the book speaks loudly about the characters’ mental states and views toward the world.
Interestingly, this issue gives readers a clearer understanding of the central villain’s–Kuber Badal’s–sexual powers (literally, not metaphorically), better defining his larger moral threat to the world, and Jon and the other seX-Men’s plan to overthrow him. Currently, Fraction is remaining rather elusive about what exactly is going on, but it is clear, that Badal’s sex-ploits certainly serve a ethically corrupt purpose, making the enforcement of the sex police more hypocritical. Readers also gain further insights into Jon’s questionable descent into more adventurous sexual encounters and Suzie’s relationship with her father, who she interacts with via his old computer.
Overall, this is another outstanding issue in a series that should be read by everyone, especially younger people growing into their mature sexual identity. Like the other issues in the series, #23 continues to explore an oft-taboo topic with a sensitive and compassionate eye toward personal sexual identity.
Batman #44 by Writer Tom King and Artists Mikel Jann & Joelle Jones
In another personal take on one of DC’s most mythical couples, Tom King and artists Mikel Jann & Joelle Jones bring readers intimately close to Catwoman aka Selina Kyle as she shops for her wedding dress. Of course, it is only fitting that Selina’s approach to this task is set up as a heist, which is apt for the type of story that King crafted.
Split between Selina’s B and E shopping spree and past encounters between Batman and Catwoman, the story serves to show how the act of marriage–and by extension, the act of choosing a wedding dress–is both unprecedented and entirely traditional within the Batman narrative. To reinforce this concept, the artwork for the shopping scenes and flashbacks are drawn by Jann and Jones respectively, creating a tonal shift between moments. However, as chronology in the flashback scenes move closer to the present, Jones’ artwork begins to resemble Jann’s, showing the growth of the characters and the naturalness of the matrimony.
A particularly fun component of King’s writing in this issue comes in the form of a dialogue between Bat and Cat, in which Batman expresses concern of their marriage. Cat jokingly connects this line of thinking to their changing outfits of the years and adds that what they are looking for is a costume that fits “purrfectly.” This is clearly a joke on behalf of the spectrum of costume changes both characters have endured over the years, but it also points to the strangely natural shift their putting on wedding attire really is–just another costume change.
Tom King is one of the masters of the mundane, making what could be the most painfully tedious aspect of a super hero or villain’s life interesting and deeply probing, and this issue is another example of his skill. I look forward to the Bats and Cats wedding, as I think King’s take has been engaging and humanizing, but I worry that the nature of mainstream super hero comics will ultimately doom this couple to an early divorce.