I love Sex Criminals. And by Sex Criminals, I mean the critically acclaimed comic book series by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. And not the…you know…other type of sex criminals…
Sex Criminals tells the story of Suzie, a young woman who discovers that she can freeze time when she orgasms. It’s not until she meets and bumps uglies with Jon that she discovers that she isn’t the only one with this ability. Together, Suzie and Jon set out on a mission to save their local library by pulling off a series of bank robberies.
As you’d imagine, there is a fair bit of sex in Sex Criminals. But it’s how the series handles the topic that makes Sex Criminals really shine. The early issues of the series balances the bank robbing with the story of how Suzie and Jon first learn about the often taboo subject of sex and deal with the discovery of their time-freezing superpowers.
In Sex Criminals, Suzie and Jon’s discovery of sex is the equivalent of the “origin story” found in most traditional comics. In a way, this makes the characters in Sex Criminals more relatable than those found in traditional comics. Very few of us come from an alien planet that exploded or are billionaire orphans that have dedicated our lives to fighting crime. But most of us have had to go through the awkward process of learning about sex while growing up. It’s a journey that is both unique and universal.
Sex can be many different things to different people. In fact it can be many different things to the same person. It can be naughty, awkward, fun, funny, crude, amazing, embarrassing or emotional. Sex Criminals captures this perfectly with moments that range from incredibly honest to laugh out loud funny.
The worst thing about Sex Criminals is that it’s over too quickly (insert joke here). You spend the whole month waiting for the next issue and before you know it, it’s finished. But perhaps the only good thing about having reached the end of an issue of Sex Criminals is getting to the letters page.
I’ve been reading comics since I could read and I’ve never once read the letters printed at the end of each issue sent in by fans. But Sex Criminals has built a large community of loyal fans who write not only to sing the series’ praises, but also share their own experiences, and to ask questions – both of which are often hilarious. In some cases, there are 6 or 7 pages of fan letters, all with responses from Fraction and Zdarsky. The pair also take it one step further by offering a number of “SEX TIPS” in the letters section such as:
SEX TIP: Role playing can help spice up your sex life. Pretend to be someone who’s good at sex.
SEX TIP: 1. Stick it in. 2. Wiggle it around. 3. NAILED IT
SEX TIP: Sex is a wonderful and natural way to discover if your partner is a lousy lay or not.
SEX TIP: You need to change your safeword every three weeks for security reasons, and it must have numbers in it.
SEX TIP: Have sex while standing up (for the rights of gays and lesbians to marry their partners).
All in all, Sex Criminals is one of the best and most interesting comic books that you can read at the moment. Through the combination of great writing and artwork, the series is able to tackle the topic of sex in way that is both humorous and human. If you like comic books you should read Sex Criminals. If you’ve never read a comic book, you should read Sex Criminals. Just have a cigarette ready for when you finish.
Sex Criminals is available at all good and bad comic shops. For instant gratification, you can also get Sex Criminals on comiXology
X-Men: Days of Future Past is pretty ambitious. The latest installment of the X-Men franchise aims to merge the original X-Men trilogy with the excellent X-Men: First Class prequel. By taking advantage of the time traveling elements of the original Days of Future Past storyline, it’s also aims to erase the worst parts of the previous X-Men movies (namely X-Men: The Last Stand) while keeping the good parts (namely Hugh Jackman and the cast from First Class).
The good news is that Days of Future Past largely succeeds on both accounts. While it is not perfect, it is definitely one of the best X-Men movies and one of the better superhero movies released to date.
As a general rule, comic book movies have always excelled when they stick as close as possible to the source material and failed when they haven’t. Days of Future Past is no exception. It’s based on one of the most iconic X-Men stories, perfectly highlighting the themes of fear and prejudice that make the X-Men so unique.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is definitely the darkest X-Men movie so far. It’s partly set in a post-apocalyptic future where mutants have been hunted to the point of near extinction by an army of giant robotic Sentinels. In order to save themselves from destruction, the X-Men send Wolverine back to 1973 to prevent the events that will lead to the extinction of the mutant race – and to be groovy.
Days of Future Past features the largest ensemble cast to date. Due to the sheer scope of the film, the majority of the cast is relegated to smaller, supporting roles in order to focus on Wolverine and the younger versions of Xavier and Magneto. Each of these characters have a satisfying character arc, but it would have been nice to see a bit more of Ian Mckellen, Patrick Stewart and the rest of the future X-Men.
Evan Peter’s Quicksilver also deserves a special mention. While the internet freaked out because he looked like a dork in photos, he delivers some of the best moments in the film.
Days of Future Past does a good job of balancing character and action with some of the best action set pieces in any X-Men film. The action ranges from epic battles between the future X-Men and hordes of sentinels to a daring prison break in the Pentagon and an all-out assault on the White House.
I always feel ambivalent about the action scenes in an X-Men movie. The X-Men’s mutant powers have always resulted in action packed comics and this action has never been fully captured on screen. In my opinion, the X-Men deserve the scale of action seen in Man of Steel. Days of Future Past is a step in the right direction, mainly due to the sentinels who are powerful enough to pose a genuine threat to the X-Men. They will thrill any X-Men fan.
X-Men: Days of Future Past is a great comic book movie. It is definitely darker than X-Men: First Class, but I’m still undecided if it is actually a better film. What Days of Future Past does do is solidify the X-Men franchise – even if it does so through some slightly wonky “time travel fixes everything” mechanics. The filmmakers have already announced that they will continue to draw upon iconic X-Men stories for future films. Next up is X-Men: Apocalypse, based on the Age of Apocalypse run from the 1990’s. If they can continue mining the best of the source material, then the future is definitely looking bright for the X-Men franchise.
- Brings together the best bits of all the X-Men movies
- Based on one of the most iconic X-Men stories
- The darkest and most ambitious X-Men movies so far
- Solidifies the X-Men franchise
- Scary Sentinels
- Some wonky time travel mechanics
8.5 out of 10
My initial attempt to review the Marvel Unlimited app turned into a rant about the merits of digital comics versus real comics. At the time, the Marvel Unlimited App was poorly designed and extremely buggy. But one year later, I can honestly say that Marvel Unlimited has become one of my favourite and most used apps. And after a recent and major update to the app, I think it’s finally time to do a proper review.
Marvel Unlimited is an annual subscription-based service that gives you access to roughly 13,000 digital comics that can be read on your smartphone, computer or tablet. It costs $69.99 (R700) a year which could be an incredible deal depending on how many comics you are going to read. For example, digital comics cost between $2 and $4. In the past year, I’ve read about 200 digital comics on the app, which means that I’ve essentially consumed at least $200 worth of comics. So if you like to geek-out hard, this could be the app for you.
When the app first came out, the comic book reading experience was quite clunky, very buggy and would often crash. Thankfully, this has been fixed in the recent update and the reading experience is on par with other comic book apps like ComixOlogy. Another feature that started working after the recent update is offline reading, where you can save up to 12 issues onto your device. This is incredibly handy if you have a Wi-Fi only device or are about to get stuck on a plane…
The sheer variety of comics available on the Marvel Unlimited app is still amazing, astonishing, incredible, fantastic and spectacular…It’s still pretty awesome having access to everything from classics from the Golden Age of comics to the latest issues of Marvel Now. No matter what type of Marvel comics you’re into, the app will keep you pretty well covered.
The only downside is that Marvel only loads a comic onto the app 6 months after it has been published. This is not a train smash, but if you like your comics fresh off the press, you will need to make another plan.
Despite this, I cannot overemphasise how many great titles are on the app. There are plenty of great Marvel Now titles including Uncanny Avengers, Brian Michael Bendis’ excellent run on All-New X-Men, Thor: God of Thunder (the most Sandman-like comic since Sandman) and Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye which is my favourite Marvel series ever. It has an entire issue told from the perspective of a one-eyed dog and is just generally fucking incredible. There is also the complete Age of Ultron series which will form the basis for the next Avengers movie (just saying).
There is no shortage of great comics on the Marvel Unlimited app. If you like reading comics, want to catch up with what’s happening in the Marvel Universe or just explore it; download this app and just give Marvel your money. I know it’s quite rare to write a review after spending almost a year using a product or service…but I have loved this service and look forward to spending another year in the Marvel Universe.
- The updated app actually works
- Amazing, astonishing, fantastic and spectacular content
- Updated weekly with new mix of classic and recent comics
- Good value for geeks with lots of time on their hands
- Newest comics are 6 months old
- Occasional bugs (although more and more of them are being squashed)
8.5 out of 10
A few months back, I signed up for Marvel Unlimited, a relatively new service that provides on-demand access to thousands of digital comics from Marvel that you can read online, on your phone or on your tablet. The service offers an all access pass to the Marvel Universe and costs about R500 a year, which is incredible value for money.
I initially signed up for the service with great hopes of writing a review on Electric Sheep. Unfortunately, my review of Marvel Unlimited is pretty simple:
- It’s a potentially great service plagued by buggy mobile apps
- There is no easy way to browse through the thousands of comics on offer
- The offline support is limited to six comics- which you can’t access without a working internet connection.
It’s pretty easy to get frustrated by any of the above issues. But…there is one area where the service shines, and that is the content. The library of comics on offer is absolutely amazing, fantastic, spectacular and uncanny. Plus Marvel keeps adding new comics to read each month. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for some of the more recent titles, or if you’re looking to dig into classic issues from the Golden Age of the Marvel Universe. Marvel Unlimited is worth the price of admission for any comic book fan.
After playing around with the Marvel Unlimited app, I’ve given a lot of thought to how digital has changed the ways we consume media. I thought back to what it was like when I first started collecting comics as a kid. And as much as I like all things digital, I think I had my first “old man moment” when I started thinking about the future of the comic book.
I remember the trials and tribulations of trying collect comics while growing up in South Africa. My local CNA had a modest selection at best (basically X-Men, Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, and maybe a few other titles). Availability was often sporadic. I once spent months collecting the first three issues of a particular run of Amazing Spider-Man and then waiting the usual four weeks for the fourth and final issue which mysteriously never came…This kind of stuff happened all the time.
I started collecting comics in an age of scarcity. I remember going over to my cousin’s house and finding out that he had bought a direct edition of X-Men #25. It’s the issue where Magneto rips out Wolverine’s skeleton, and my cousin had picked it up for a whole R25 – which was a lot of money when I was a kid. It was the last copy and there was no way to get another one. I spent years trying to find a comic that my cousin wanted enough to trade for his copy of X-Men #25 but never found one.
One of the best parts of collecting comics was actually going to my local comic shop. The first comic shop I went to closed down shortly after I first visited it. It didn’t take me long to migrate over to Zed Bee in Edenvale which is where I spent the majority of my formative years, as well as all of my pocket money. Visiting Zed Bee was the highlight of my week and I can honestly say that my love of reading and writing was born in that store.
I still try to visit Zed Bee as often as possible. I love browsing their shelves, talking to the staff and getting their recommendations about what’s worth reading. Earlier this year I got into a fascinating conversation about how the comic book is the only medium where dozens of writers have interpreted the same characters for such a long time – pretty much 80 plus years and counting.
Thinking back to my experiences of collecting comics growing up and it makes me feel conflicted about a service like Marvel Unlimited. Part of me wishes I had something like it when I was growing up. I don’t think I could have ever imagined that one day; it would be possible to read almost any Marvel comic with the push of a button. I think that would have blown my tiny little mind.
But for all the value and convenience, I don’t think I would have traded it for my memories of collecting comics.
I hope that any kid growing up today gets their parent to sign them up for something like Marvel Unlimited. I hope any kid lucky enough to have a tablet buys a digital comic or two on a regular basis and spends less time playing Angry Birds or taking photos of milkshakes on Instagram. But I also hope that the parents of those same kids take them to a comic shop so they can buy actual comics.
There are so many great things about the digital world. Digital makes our lives more convenient and can offer value in ways that the real world can’t. But when I think back to my experience of collecting comics as a kid, I realise that you lose something if your only experience of something you love is digital.
It doesn’t matter if it’s comics, books or music. There is no question that the majority of the content that we’ll consume moving forward will be digital. But there are still some books that I want to own as physical books. There are still some artists that I want to see live instead of on a playlist. And there are still some experiences like visiting your local comic shop that no digital offering will be able to match.
So what does the future of the comic book look like? More than likely, it will be mostly digital. But hopefully there is still a bit of room for the real comic books that I grew up with. I’ve still got the entire collection that I built up as a kid and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.