Sex Criminals is an ongoing (2013-present) creator-owned Image Comics series by writer Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky. To say the premise is a little out there would be putting it mildly, it's...sort of a crime/romance/sci-fi story.In 1997, Suzie Dickson was a normal middle-class middle-school girl when her father was killed in a random act of workplace violence. In the aftermath of his death, Suzie's mother began drinking heavily and their relationship suffered; Suzie was particularly bothered that instead of talking, her mother would pretend she was fine and then wait until Suzie left the room to break down. Suzie found that if she drew a bath and ducked under the surface, she couldn't hear anything, and took to doing this at night so she couldn't hear her mother crying.And then one night as she submerged herself, Suzie's "lower region" slid a little too close to the running water, if you get the meaning. Having heard the standard gossip, she understood what was going to happen, and then it did. But as she exited the tub, she realized something truly weird had occurred: accompanied by swirling lights and silence, time had stopped for the world and everyone in it but her.Understandably freaked out and guessing that this probably wasn't normal, Suzie embarked on a weeks-long quest to get answers about what does happen after sex/an orgasm, but repeatedly struck out. Finally, she decided on a regimen of "private research" to document the effects of "The Quiet", as she called it. But after compiling a list of results, she had no idea how to organize it until a trip to the local library introduced her to a method of cataloging the data, which began a life-long fondness for libraries. 16 years later, she's drifting in life a bit, trying to buy as many books as she can from her local library before a bank shuts it down. At a fundraising party she meets an interesting man named Jon, who wears glasses and can quote Lolita; one thing leads to another...
Suzie: Boy, that felt nice.Surprise! Jon can do it too. And what better use for their power than to save their precious libraries by robbing banks? Thus begins one of the more original — if odd — plots in recent comic history. The series has been a hit from day one, and won Best New Series in the 2014 Eisner Awards.It was recently announced that Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick will be producing a television adaption of the series (as well as Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's The Wicked + The Divine) with Universal through their company Milkfed Criminal Masterminds — no creative talent have been attached to the project as of yet.
Suzie & Jon: How are you here?
Suzie & Jon: How are you here?
- Adults Are Useless: As part of her quest to understand why what happens happens, Suzie turns first to a gynecologist and then her mom. Neither are any help. Somewhat justified in that they have no idea what Suzie is talking about, especially since she's not expressing herself very well, and is reluctant to press the point due to embarrassment.
- Anachronic Order: The first issue begins in the present, then loops back to the past, then to the present again, then the past again, and finally back to the present. Issues that introduce new characters tend to follow this process as well to explain their motivations.
- Anatomically Impossible Sex: In the first issue, from one of the 'bad girls,' clearly illustrating she's got no idea what she's talking about.
- Arc Words: "Don't judge me/us."
- Asexuality: In the third arc of the series, we meet Alix, an asexual person. Not only is her story incredibly touching and heartbreaking, but we learn that she accesses her orgasm-power via BASE jumping. Way to introduce a great new character who resolutely decides to kill our heroes.
- Bi the Way: Jon is shown in early issues as having sex with a guy named George. While speculated on for a while by fans, in the letters section of Issue #13, writer Matt Fraction cleared up the confusion by stating that "Jon would categorize himself as bisexual. There were more men than George. I don't know if we'll get to all of them. I guess I thought including George in his list addressed his sexuality."
- Black Comedy: Suzie begins her narration with her and Jon about to be arrested, then goes on to relate the story of her father getting murdered, all the while insisting she's going to start joking soon.
- Break the Cutie: Suzie notes that her "whole world" ended when her father was killed. Later, Jon gets hit with this hard: the Quiet detector/Cumpass prevents him and Suzie from enjoying sex, the relationship starts to cool down, he suffers so much stress and paranoia he gets a breakout of shingles - a conga line of problems that forces him to go back on his medication. Even this isn't a positive step; when on his meds, he's coloured in black and white and is completely numb to everything. And then the Sex Police destroy Suzie's library out of sheer spite.
- Cannot Spit It Out: In issue #10, Jon realizes he's fallen in love with Suzie, but is afraid to tell her.
- Chekov's Gun: Suzie still doesn't know that the Sex Police primarily figured out her and Jon's bank-robbing scheme because a worried Rachelle called the cops (which would have been bad enough, but it was Kegelface, the precinct receptionist, who answered the phone).
- Commonality Connection: Several. Jon works for the same bank that Suzie's dad worked for; one of the bank's owners is a member of the Sex Police; Suzie's new OB/GYN is a childhood friend of Jon's who then ends up dating Rachelle, and all seven of the main characters(Suzie, Jon, Rachelle, Robert, and the Sex Police) live in the same town.
- Convenient Miscarriage: Definitely not so much 'convenient' given that she's very upset about it, but Rachelle has a miscarriage in issue #20, just after finding out in issue #19 that she was pregnant.
- Creator Cameo: Zdarsky seems to love this trope. Lots of characters have more than a passing resemblance to Chip. Once he (alone, by the way) won the Harvey Award for Humor, he draws himself in the background of a coffee shop wearing a top hat, smoking a cigar lit off of a burning newspaper, and getting a foot massage from co-creator (and not Harvey-award-winning-humorist) Matt Fraction.
- Deadpan Snarker: The letter column in the back features... questionable sex advice. This is also the gimmick of Fraction and Zdarsky's satirical "Just The Tips" mini-book.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Played with; the series often uses its sexy parts to reflect Jon and Suzie's emotional well-being.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Suzie refers to the totally silent, frozen-time post-orgasm world as "The Quiet". Almost everything for sale in the sex shop Jon visited as a teen. There are boxes marked "Half a Tit: Because Why Not?" and "Sex Elbow: Have Sex with an Elbow!".
- Experimented in College: Going by the mental 'snapshots' of her former partners, Suzie has had at least one lesbian encounter. Jon has had sex with men, at first as a search for people who can enter The Quiet and then apparently explored more off-panel, as he is confirmed bisexual by Word of God.
- Funny Background Event: See Parallel Porn Titles below.
- Genre-Busting: It's a Romantic Crime Drama with elements of Sci-Fi. It's telling when The Other Wiki simply lists it as "Crime" when it's really not exclusively that.
- Good Bad Girl: Invoked; with the books "present" taking place in late 2013 and it having been probably 10 years since she lost her virginity, Suzie's been with around seventeen other people since then, but this isn't presented as out of the ordinary.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Possibly averted with Suzie. When she and her doctor are discussing forms of contraception other than the Pill, he notes that statistically only 2 out 100 women become pregnant when using condoms. Suzie replies that she's "been one of the two", though it isn't said whether she had an abortion or miscarried.
- Good People Have Good Sex: Averted and how. Neither Suzie nor Jon are fundamentally bad people, but they are screwed up, and that factors into their sex lives. Played with in Rachelle and Robert's relationship; she's much more experienced than he is (the implication being that he spent most of college actually doing schoolwork, while she was a party girl), and says he's afraid of being too "vanilla" for her. So far, he hasn't been, as she seems to like being able to take it easy. His insecurities about being able to satisfy her sexually lead them to break up briefly, though they get back together in issue #18. Just in time for Rachelle to find out in issue #19 that she's pregnant.
- Heel–Face Turn: Seems to be happening with Alix as of issue #19. She was already becoming disillusioned with Kegelface and Badel's actions, but appears to have been legitimately angered by Badel's insinuating that he could use his wealth to harm Jon.
- Hormone-Addled Teenager: After the first time, Suzie tries to suppress her urge to masturbate until she can figure The Quiet out. This doesn't last.
- How We Got Here: The first few issues are dedicated to what led to Suzie and Jon having sex in the bank bathroom.
- Improbable Weapon User: The Bus Driver member of the "Sex Police" smacks Jon across the face. With a dildo.
- Interplay of Sex and Violence: The first sex scene in the book is Suzie and Jon trying to enter The Quiet to escape from their latest robbery.
- Introduction by Hookup: Suzie and Jon meet at a party she's throwing to raise funds to save her local library. One thing leads to another, and they find out they have the same ability.
- Lemony Narrator: Suzie and Jon at times.
- Living a Double Life: Suzie is a fairly average woman who likes books. In her spare time she uses her time-freezing power to rob banks so she can support libraries. Most of the people in the book, actually. The Sex Police turn out to be little more than self-appointed busybodies, though they do have a point about Jon and Suzie's antics possibly attracting attention.
- Love Confession: After chickening out in issue #10, Jon finally tells Suzie that he loves her in issue #15. She's mildly freaked out by this and gets up to make coffee without returning the sentiment, which puts yets another wrinkle in their relationship.
- Male Frontal Nudity / Modesty Bedsheet: Suzie grabs the sheet when she panics after realizing Jon wasn't affected by her power. On the other side of the bed, Jon now has nothing to cover himself with.
- Odd Friendship: Suzie and Rachelle didn't get along in middle school, but later became best friends and are roommates at the beginning of the series.
- Pair the Spares: Rachelle and Robert hook up in issue #10. Ana and Dave go on a date in issue #19.
- Parallel Porn Titles: Surprisingly, they didn't go with the modern title standards of "This Ain't X" or "X: A XXX Parody" but instead have titles such as Hard-On Fink, The Squirt Locker, Fill Bill, Poon and surprisingly enough, Upream Colon to name a few. Issue 9 has a truly weird one in the form of "The Licked and the Divine," which we actually get to see some of.
- Power Glows: When Suzie and Jon have sex for the first time, she notices this about him.Suzie: Jon...is your dick glowing?
- Puberty Superpower: In middle school, Suzie learns that she has the ability to freeze time when she has an orgasm. Averted with Ana, who as a child suffered a nerve-damaging injury to her genitals that made it extremely difficult for her to orgasm; she never actually had one (and didn't discover her power) until filming her first porno film during her early 20's.
- Rage Breaking Point: A few months after she first enters The Quiet, Suzie finally snaps and takes the opportunity to angrily scream out her feelings at her time-frozen mother. The narrating older Suzie notes this isn't the last time this happens.
- When Jon finds out that his therapist is ignoring everything he says, he winds up storming outside and screaming "Shit on a dick!" in public.
- Rape as Drama: Rachelle was raped in college by a star athlete who got away with it. At least until Suzie went into The Quiet to plant a huge stash of weed on him, leading to him getting his scholarship revoked and the end of his athletic career.
- Reality Ensues: The Sex Police aren't actually police. On the one hand, this means that they have no real power to arrest anyone or any kind of legal authority, but on the other hand, they're essentially vigilantes who have no reason to play nice and nobody to hold them responsible for anything.
- When Susie and Jon tell Ana that they're bank robbers, her response is to tell them to get out — after all, they've just made her an accessory after the fact, why would she want anything more to do with them?
- Susie and Jon's crime spree gets a lot of people with orgasm-powers very pissed off at them. Sure, their motives might be good, but they're committing crimes, potentially exposing everyone, and they have little if any sense of restraint — they're a disaster waiting to happen.
- Sex as Rite-of-Passage: When Suzie sleeps with her high school boyfriend Craig, she thinks it will be this. Turns out all that happens is that she ends up in The Quiet again.
- Sex Comedy: It's about two people who can freeze time when they orgasm and rob banks to use the money to help support libraries. That's not the most serious of premises.
- Sex Magic: The premise is that certain people have a Time Stands Still power when they reach orgasm (as it's not something they can just ask about and they're still preteens or just-turned teens when they discover it, their names for it range from The Quiet to Cumworld). Two of them randomly hook up with each other (with a mutual "How the hell are you in here?!"), and eventually decide to use their power to rob banks. However, there are others with similar powers, who act as a self-appointed police force.
- Slut-Shaming: Played with; in Suzie's middle school there are a group of "dirty girls", but Suzie ends up being the one who's ashamed to speak to them.
- The Talk: Inverted; in her quest for answers Suzie asked her mother, only to get shot down rather brutally.Suzie's Mom: What, Suzie?
Middle-school Suzie: I had a few questions?
Suzie's Mom: About what, Suzie?
Middle-school Suzie: You know. Sex questions.
Suzie's Mom: Great. Now I'm raising a whore. (takes drink)
Present Suzie: (narration) Strike three.
- Wham Issue: After Suzie finds out Jon was lying to her, the end of issue #19 shows her taking an interview with the owners of a library in another city, and saying that she'd be willing to relocate. And then on the very back page, Rachelle, who just got back together with Robert after a short break-up, finds out she's pregnant.