Image Comics wins no awards for being subtle with their latest publication Sex. Considering the landscape of comic books, most are written about heroes we grew up reading as children for an age group that isn’t necessarily mature. That said, more power to publishers for publishing books oriented for adults. As far as Sex #1 goes though, is it good?
Sex #1 (Image Comics)
I read this comic with absolutely no details as to what it was about or why it was being created. By issue’s end I was confused, but also curious as to its purpose, so I moved on to the entire afterword by writer Joe Casey.
That didn’t lend any insight into what the comic was about, so I decided to read an interview he did on CBR which was incredibly enlightening. I then reread the comic and understood what was going on, enjoyed it much more fully and started to get excited for what’s to come. The fact that I needed to read an interview to grasp things is probably not the best place to start though.
Saturn City Proper.
A single and young president of a Corporation, that’s in his name, who isn’t going to treat running the corp like a game anymore…who does that remind me of?
Part of being a critic is evaluating what is delivered be it film, novel or comic book. Allowing noise outside of the work to affect the review isn’t very fair. For that reason I’m going to review this comic from two perspectives, the reader going in knowing nothing and the reader going in knowing the intentions and extra details not delivered in the comic.
To those who go in blind.
Prepare to be confused. There is subtle indications that our protagonist has been away doing something, but that something isn’t too clear. The cover should give you a good clue as to what that something is, but there isn’t a page inside this comic that suggests he did one thing or another. The protagonist’s lawyer refers to his past exploits, but not very clearly. I came away feeling frustrated and annoyed. When the sex bits occur near stories end I couldn’t decide whether our hero was a glum loser or a suicide case. The art style is captivating, especially the way the lettering is done with highlights and all, but you’re going to find yourself confused.
Anyone who wants to pick this book up with no details stop reading. Your story ends here. Do not scroll down, choose your adventure is over, spoilers below.
The man wants to improve the city as a corporate leader not some swashbuckling hero!
To those who read the CBR interview linked above.
OMG it all makes sense now! Our protagonist is an ex-Batman type who no longer wants to be a superhero. Gleaned from a conversation between two men in a club, the protagonist was called the Armored Saint, who has hung up his boots and made a promise. What that is I have no idea. The man lost a loved one and seems to have a complicated relationship with sex.
The interview divulges important points about the protagonist, like how he isn’t some playboy but has lived a monk-like existence, has subverted sex of any kind and now he’s in his 30’s. That detail goes a long way to explain the awkward and strange sexploits that occur in the final pages. Without knowing that it’s incredibly confusing as to what is happening. Chock this up to the writer expecting us to hang in there for the next issue or wait for the trade, but I found these lack of details a bit irresponsible.
Without vigilantism the bad guys run rampant!
Artist Piotr Kowalski is relatively unknown to me, but boy does he draw a mean panel. Colorist Brad Simpson should also not go unmentioned. Together their work is turning into some kind of pop art that reminds me of some of the screen work Andy Warhol is known for. This is partly due to the color choices; for instance two different panels of nearly the same angle might use a completely different color shining on a face, or how background colors seem to change even when it’s the same background. It keeps things fluid, always changing, which is probably why words are highlighted as well. Maybe Casey was aware this would be heavy on dialogue and wanted these stylistic choices to keep things moving even when they weren’t literally moving. Either way it’s striking and interesting to look at.
Sex gets graphic.
Anyone worried (or maybe looking forward to) the sex should be aware it gets slightly graphic. Full frontal is up for grabs here, but there isn’t actually any man on woman sex acts to speak of. There is a sex act, done between two women the protagonist is viewing, but it’s nothing to faint from.
Casey handles these scenes tastefully, particularly because he intercuts the protagonist’s memories of his dying mother and throws an anxiety ridden face on him. It’s a juxtaposition that’ll make any reader have mixed feelings about the sex, in a good way.
Oh he’s so not into it.
- Dazzling art
- Interesting psychoanalytical story going on here
- Confusing and unsatisfying going in cold
If you’re going in cold note you probably won’t have the most fun reading this issue. I was so frustrated I immediately Googled the series to figure out what I was missing. If that shows the book is better than most you’re probably right. Once some of the details were revealed, which hopefully do get revealed in the actual comic in the future, things started to make sense and the book became far more interesting. Full disclosure it took me two readings and a bit of research to enjoy the book fully.
There’s a subversive nature to all superheroes that isn’t ever discussed, mainly because the big two don’t want or should not even be thinking of such things. This series, and Image Comics proper, should be proud to publish something potentially as complex as this story seems to suggest it will be telling.
Is It Good?
Yes. For those of you interested in psychological dramas give this puppy a look.