Sex Criminals: Big Hard Sex Criminals Hardcover
Matt Fraction, author; Chip Zdarsky artist

Image Comics, 2015

Sex Criminals was such a runaway hit that the first ten issues were given the deluxe hardcover treatment (in addition to the trade paperback collections and the numerous reprints of individual issues). I had intended to read this (digitally) to catch up on the second story arc, but realized it had been so long since I read the first TPB collection that I wound up speed-reading the first five issues as a reminder. The end of issue #5 found Suzie and Jon running away from the Sex Police, who had just detained them while they were trying to rob a bank. For a good cause, of course: to save a public library that was about to get foreclosed.

Matt Fraction has said that the runaway success of this series was a complete surprise: he never expected it to get past five issues. So he took a hard turn at the end of the first arc to keep the story going, and there's more evidence of frantic re-plotting at the beginning of this one. Jon suffers mental and physical breakdown, and he and Suzie drift apart. But when the Sex Police threaten Suzie with immediate  foreclosure of the library, Jon gets angry and attacks the S.P. headquarters (which he learned about due to a deposit at the bank where he works).

There's also a lot of Jon's history in high school, which intersects with the present when Suzie sees a new OB/GYN who turns out to be an old friend. The S.P. files tell them about another person with their talent, a woman who had been a porn star--Jon was a fan, and we get her history as well, which includes a fun porn parody of the comic series The Wicked + The Divine. Suzie and Jon recruit her to their counterattack on the S.P. And this arc closes much like the first one, with the S.P. about to do something bad to the rebels.

This deluxe collection has a ton of extra material. All the original covers (including alternates); limited bookplate images; and Zdarsky's breakdown of his artistic process. Then there's all of the short Sex Tips from the individual issues; as well as an extensive tour through the insane background details Zdarsky creates for most of the issues (e.g. fake band posters and t-shirts, and a book cover only seen in one panel).

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