Sex Criminals #30 Review: A Poignant, Perfect, and Necessary Finale

In its very first line of dialogue, Sex Criminals #30 perfectly captures how fans are going to feel reading it: "I don't want this to end." The Image Comics series, which began in 2013, has courted a passionate group of fans, as well as established the dynamic and unpredictable partnership of Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. After seven years, Sex Criminals comes to an end this week... well, outside of the series' epilogue in the forthcoming issue #69, and a long-awaited one-shot surrounding the origin of Sexual Gary. But even with a bit more of the series still in store, Sex Criminals #30 feels like a bonafide finale, and an incredible one at that. The issue is not only a heartfelt and deeply moving ending to Suzie and Jon's story, but it's the best rumination on love, connection, and mental illness that I have read in recent memory.

Diving too deeply into the plot of Sex Criminals #30 would be a disservice to the issue itself, especially considering how richly constructed this final arc has been. That being said, the issue does address what happened to Suzie after her confrontation (and apparent death-by-explosion) with Kuber Badal, and takes her on a journey that she and, likely, readers weren't prepared for.

Sex Criminals has always been a comic that unabashedly embraces its titular concept, but also uses it as a jumping-off point to capture so much more. The series' take on the intersection of sexuality, self-worth, and mental illness has been one of its biggest strengths, and it's a concept that absolutely sings in this issue. Suzie's navigation of what her future looks like—and what it means for everything that led up to it—unfolds in a truly breathtaking manner, with lines of dialogue that perfectly capture how easily a life can be overcome with anxiety and regret. If you ever thought any part of the previous 29 issues dragged or felt too pretentious, this issue will prove you wrong in the best possible way, as everything culminates in a symphony of emotion. There's a sense that for every jovial, royalty-free singalong of Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls", there are moments of unspeakable pain and strife, but neither one counteracts the emotional significance of the other.

Even as Sex Criminals' cast of characters has expanded outward (and brought some essential LGBTQ+ representation in the process), the heart of the story has always been Suzie and Jon. Unsurprisingly, Fraction absolutely excels at crafting the zenith of their love story, in a way that will feel especially rewarding to those who have followed the series from day one. In a way, this "endgame" feels like something the series had planned for since the beginning, but it also feels incredibly (and perhaps unintentionally) relevant of our current moment. The events of the past few months have shown how human connection and love are things worth savoring and cherishing, and it's easy to see tinges of that in what happens to Suzie, Jon, and the other characters in their orbit. A lesser series would save its emotional resonance for the final "epilogue" issue, but Sex Criminals uses it to craft a powerful foundation, which will only make that follow-up all the more gratifying and surprising.

Sex Criminals has truly felt like a collaboration between both Fraction and Zdarsky, and this issue only showcases how essential Zdarsky's art and aesthetics have been for the series. While Zdarsky's star power in comics has only grown throughout the tenure of Sex Criminals, his work on the series has never ceased to be the perfect mix of poignant and absolutely hilarious. In this issue, those two emotions are pushed to their peaks, with stunning results. Suzie's journey physically manifests in some gorgeous visuals, which are complicated by a shade of bright pink (which is even used in the gutter spaces of some sequences) that harkens back to the series' first cover. Zdarsky has always had a knack for conveying a world of emotion in a single panel, and nearly all of this issue showcases that skill, with some panels that would put the opening of Pixar's Up to shame. At the same time, there's so much lightness and love thrown into the entire issue, especially with the lighter moments and visual jokes. There's one background gag, in particular, that I'm already excited to revisit and examine further once I get a physical copy of the issue.

Sex Criminals has been a beautiful, weird bright spot in the comics world for the past seven years, which makes the very nature of its conclusion incredibly bittersweet. But this week's "final" issue wraps things up as only Sex Criminals could—with a heartfelt, hilarious, and breathtaking thrill-ride of a narrative. It captures the unabashed love that the series has had both within its canon, and among the fandom that has followed it. There's a sentiment throughout this issue of making peace with your past and savoring the moment, something that reads even more powerfully in our moment, as both the past and the future feel slightly beyond our grasp. Nothing has shown how emotionally resonant and unabashedly weird comics can be quite like Sex Criminals, and that was true through the very end.

Published by Image Comics

On August 5, 2020

Written by Matt Fraction

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Art by Chip Zdarsky

Cover by Chip Zdarsky