Advance Review – Sex #1
Joe Casey – Writer
Published by Image Comics
You’re a smart reader, right? If you picked up a comic series called Boats you might expect boats to be heavily featured heavily in the aforementioned comic book. What about a series called Food? What do you expect to find in that one? Food, right! Jeezums you’re a smart kid. With that in mind, this series is called, SEX. So, yeah, don’t read it at work, or in your youth group worship service, or in the line of sight of that uptight soccer mom who goes to your coffee shop. Now that we have taken care of that, lets look at the book. Eyes up here, there are words too.
We find Casey’s protagonist, Simon Cooke, returning to Saturn City after seven months away. Right away, Casey hints that there may be more to Simon than meets the eye. He appears to be your run-of-the-mill one-percenter, Captain of Industry type. Again, and again the supporting cast suggests otherwise.
He has a troubled past, full of intrigue and mystery. Casey remains tight-lipped about the details of the events that lead Simon back to the city he refers to as,”this godforsaken place.” Eventually Simon goes looking for some excitement, which is easy to come by in Saturn City by the looks of things. He pays cash to watch a pair of attractive women doing the things that attractive women in pairs normally do in male fantasies. As he looks on, his mind wanders to the promises that he made. In flashback ,a self-proclaimed “cranky old woman,” tells Simon that he has sacrificed enough, that it is time to give up the perverse thrill of dressing up and immersing himself in a world of crime and conflict. He promises her that those days are done.
Along the way we meet a variety of interesting characters including Simon’s lawyer, Warren, who seems to be a confidant as well as council. A pair of fops who call themselves the Alpha Brothers, and revel in the new era dawning on Saturn City in the absence of The Armored Saint. We are introduced to The Old Man, who is scaly and reptilian, and seems genuinely bad. Near the issue’s end we meet Shadow Lynx, or Annabelle, who seems to have a connection to Simon’s past life which he is now trying so hard to run away from.
The art provided by Kowalski and Simpson smolders. The book employs washes of complimentary subjective colors that pop under heavy-handed inks. There is something innately pleasing about the way abstract geometric shapes of black float over the technicolor organic bodies beneath them. We are given an artistic look at an urban dystopia filled with detail and nuance. The environment could have become drab and lackluster in less skilled hands. Even Wooton’s lettering lends a remarkable departure from the expected. The nude figures are not the only treat for the eyes in the pages of SEX.
This book leaves us with more questions than answers, not necessarily a bad thing, I know. One must question the function of the overtly sexually charged nudity on displayed here. The women we see naked and writhing are presumably sex workers, so this is just a Tuesday night for them. Casey does use Simon’s wandering thoughts to give us a few more details about his past. There is a valiant attempt to make it seem essential to the story.
But, if nudity was used effectively, the reader would walk away wondering what The Armored Saint was, not focusing on the fact that you just saw the most graphic drawing of genitalia this side of a medical text book. I don’t know if the team succeeded on that front. The plot is enigmatic, leaving much more to the imagination than the working girls do. It’s full of riddles and half stories aimed at building a mystery. The impressions left by the storytelling just can’t stand up to such an unprecedented show of human sexuality. The book seems at war with itself hoping to tell a serious story while simultaneously attempting to shock us with its graphic content.
Perhaps the team knows that we will not be able to resist buying the next issue, purely for the sake of seeing what taboo they trample next. With books flying off the shelves, they will have plenty of time to tell their story in the fashion that they wish to tell it. I am curious; to see what happens to Simon, where he came from, what all this Armored Saint business is about, and which Real Sex documentary they pillage for storyboard ideas next. I’m definitely curious… I just don’t know if I am “buy-curious.”