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SFSX (Safe Sex) #2 review: Let the messy human drama commence!

Comic Books

SFSX (Safe Sex) #2 review: Let the messy human drama commence!

The sex-positive tale of revolution starts letting the characters shine bright.

About Last Night: Issue #1 of SfSx introduced us to the absolute saddest dystopia ever, in which sex has been effectively bureaucratized. More specifically, we meet Avory and George, a formerly kinky couple and frequent guests at the local palace of perversion, The Dirty Mind. After the club was raided a few years prior, Avory and George attempt to go straight (so, like, keeping their kink behind the closed doors of a modest condo). But when George is caught up in some conspiracy and taken away by the state police, Avory has no choice but to hook up with her former Dirty Mind compatriots.

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SFSX (Safe Sex) #2 review: Let the messy human drama commence!Stupid Girl: …who hate her stinking guts. Once Avory tries to recruit some folks to storm the old Dirty Mind (now the government’s Pleasure Center, or sex DMV), she’s greeted with disdain. And rightfully so: Avory did bail on her friends, and she wasn’t there for Sylvia after her girlfriend, and the club’s badass owner, Jones, was seized during said raid. And with Sylvia now trying to keep these insurgents afloat, she’s far less likely to help Avory out.

So far, the whole Avory-Sylvia dynamic seems like the best source of contention in a story that will likely involve, at least to some extent, a proper exploration of the painful side of nostalgia and returning to the fold. You want to cheer for Avory, because she made it out alive, and she’s only trying to help someone she loves, but she’s basically Benedict Arnold in pumps. Sylvia, meanwhile, seems like a tragic hero, rebelling against The Man in the hopes of keeping the dream of herself and her (hopefully not fully) lost love Jones.

Another standout seems to be Casey, another devotee of the kink who lays down some harsh realities in a great convo with Avory.  It’s an important moment regarding Avory’s inability to choose lives, and that really speaks to themes of commitment and identity, which is especially compelling in the context of queer characters living in Fascist Disney.

Making Old Friends: Once Avory gets bounced out of the Dirty Mind Collective’s leather-bound embrace, she only has one more place to go, the home of a former client, Nick. Basically a stand in for every tech bro ever, Nick welcomes Avory in, and they proceed to to begin a partnership to try and rescue George from the government. During their little back-and-forth — they’ve got a great dynamic, like two exes with far more layers of context and politics between them — there’s a few key happenings. One is that Nick’s also had a loved one black-bagged, and that adds even more layers to their relationship, which should prove essential down the line. We also learn more about their dealings together, and not only does that color their interactions, but it helps us better understand Avory and her place in the sex community.

As a continuation of that, Avory has a little speech where she basically talks about wanting it all, the life as a normie housewife and the power of a sex goddess. It’s a little naive, but then that’s what Avory is, this simple fool in a world far larger than herself, trying to strike at real meaning. However, it’s also a nice commentary about sexuality in general, namely the pursuit of balance and how all of our needs and wants are nuanced. We’re simple creatures, all of us, and at the end of the day everyone from the deeply repressed to the golden dominatrix wants to be given autonomy, and as a direct extension, some level of “value” to society.

SFSX (Safe Sex) #2 review: Let the messy human drama commence!Sex and Surprises: There’s a couple big “reveals” in issue #2. One of them I won’t spoil, but it does involve Sylvia and Casey, and it’s the moment that’s a little more of a surprise and thus more impactful. The moment I will spoil, though, is that Jones is not dead, and she’s been brain-washed and reprogrammed by the government as a new agent for purity. The whole lead up to her appearance on TV is a little heavy-handed, and while it’s not a viscerally shocking moment, it’s an important decision by the duo of writer Tina Horn and artist Michael Dowling. Because rather than drawing out this mystery, they use the Jones character to bash Avory in the face, wounding her in the worst way possible. It’s not just some faceless bureaucrat attacking them, but someone near and dear. It could be in line with the rest of the story; perhaps some reflection on how people change or whatnot. Or it could be the creators messing with their creations, finding the best way to stir things up and see what they wrought.

Also, if you’re like me and it takes a second, there’s a brief appearance by an “imprisoned” George, and maybe something about a reprogramming initiative…

Give Me More: If I enjoyed issue #1, I think issue # 2 is all the more effective. More than just further setting the stage, this “chapter” helps us better understand the complicated thoughts and desires of Avory, and if she seems a little weird or contradictory, that’s the point. She’s our way in to fully understand the themes of this book, concepts like human dichotomy, the power of self acceptance, how society ostracizes groups, etc. And it’s not just her, either, as there’s a great supporting cast starting to form around her. All of that has me eager for what comes next, to delve into this world with the purest forms of curiosity and joy. That, and pray there’s a fight scene with sex toys.

SFSX (Safe Sex) #2
Is it good?
The sex-positive tale of revolution starts letting the characters shine bright.
Characters get a chance to strut their stuff (and develop meaningfully).
The politics and cultural dissection is always digestible and never mucks up the narrative.
Even with a basic structure, issue #2 proves the real story's in the characters.
One major "surprise" feels a little heavy-handed (but whatevers.org).
7.5
Good

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