“This rap shit is like reality TV, it’s totally different from what it’s marketed as.”
“Quivers ‘n’ Shakes”
Sex, no. 5
Joe Casey & Piotr Kowalski
With Brad Simpson, Rus Wooton and Sonia Harris
This is less about the comic and more about marketing.
When Joe Casey, co-creator of Sex, was making the rounds to publicize this series, he described to readers a story wherein sex would be a driving and integral factor. Instead, five issues in, it appears to be a fairly standard post-superhero crime-comic. With one sex scene neatly packed into each issue, tucked into the story to justify the series title.
I am disappointed because I’m not one of those fellows who says “oh this movie *has* sex in it but its about *so much more*” Heck no. I’m all about running through the erotic foreign films department on Netflix. I don’t care. Sex is interesting. Sex is sexy. Sex is appealing. Sex is appalling. I never believed in the idea of sex as something that can be placed-in or dropped-out of a story willy-nilly. “Oh, editing that out doesn’t effect the story,” some writers might plead. Those writers are lying, for sure.
After reading the first gripping issue of Sex, I could tell that Joe Casey and artist Piotr Kowalski don’t have the heart for this. But despite that, I like the idea of reading a comic called “sex” so I kept reading. Perhaps the story would ramp up and the sexuality would not be so perfunctory, so…chaste.
To no avail.
Now feel me: this comic is ably written, expertly executed. I like the colors by Brad Simpson a lot. A whole lot. The colors are all flat night-tones and neon and 1980s sleaze. But the script isn’t holding it.
Yo, let’s talk about the sex in Sex!
This issue, number 5 and the previous issue, titled “Face of the Human Race” each contained one sex scene: they each contained an oral sex scene where a sub-character-woman gives a real-character-man a blowjob. In issue 4, the woman doesn’t even have a name or dialogue or…she’s just a piece of furniture. The woman in issue 5 fares better, she has a name (Cheryl), she flirts with the protagonist and initiates the sex (good for her) but is still a disposable, throwaway character.
Speaking of “disposable” characters:
In the third issue, there’s a woman who gets shot in the head by her sex partner, which is not sexy at all, it’s just horrible. Like, if I were the artist, I would not draw that, I’d demand a rewrite. That’s just me, I’ve quit projects for less misogyny than that. Like, I get it: dude is a bad guy. He’s a bad, evil gangster. But that’s not even normal gangster behavior. He shot her in the head during sex! Are you guys serious?
The answer’s “no.” Joe Casey and Piotr Kowalski are not serious about “sex” or Sex. Why didn’t I stop reading this series way back in issue 3? Very good question, reader. The answer is that in the same issue, the black character, Keenan Wade, has his own sex scene with his own partner, and he’s beginning his own adventure and I had this conflict; black people are Very Rarely depicted as having sex lives or sexual dimension unless we are depicted as predatory, threatening or are representational of some sort of threshold for non-black (white) characters to cross. This particular sex scene just depicts two black people having sex like normal human beings and living their lives.
So I had a little bit of a moral crisis.
Anyway, back to the future, the current issue is number 5 and turns out that Keenan Wade isn’t simply the only primary cast member having normal sex. He’s also the only cast member doing anything at all. The series protagonist, Simon Cooke is a shiftless, wandering lost soul with “white male protagonist” syndrome. Fuck that guy, pardon my French. Keenan Wade is doing things. He’s hacking mobsters bank accounts and turning the crime world sideways. He’s using his combat skills to defeat gunmen in his restaurant. He’s the only person in this series who is even fit to be a protagonist of any sort of story. It’s disappointing that the character will probably spend the next few issues cleaning up the mess that is Simon Cooke.
As you can see, this comic is a disaster. Ruined by the odd couple of timidity and male aggression.
Oh: Rus Wooton’s lettering: I didn’t forget you, Wooton. Turns out that Wooton has finally reigned in that weird highlighting style of his where the words that are being highlighted are actually intended as emphasis. Before it just was…random words. It was weird.
Anyway: don’t be like me. Don’t read the comic book called Sex.