Book Reviews

Review: SEX Book One: The Summer of Hard



This was the announcement released by Image Comics at the advent of Joe Casey’s and Piotr Kowalski’s newest ongoing series Sex. Pretty ingenious marketing really; simple and to the point. It was first recommended to me by one of my comic shops – although with a title like this, there was little need for coercion; Joe Casey being the scribe behind this new tale was the ultimate selling point; that, and the beautifully rendered debauchery awaiting my perverse sensibilities with each turn of the page.

Sex tells the story of a former superhero named Simon Cooke, a sort of Batman-esque character, acclimating – or attempting to acclimate – to a civilian life devoid of any trace of his former glory days as Saturn City’s Armored Saint. As part of his search for a place in the conventionally “normal” world, he has committed himself to running his company full-time, yet he’s reluctant to actually engage in its day-to-day decision-making; transition, he discovers, is harder than it appears. He’s never allowed himself to enjoy the “delicacies” of the wealthy and powerful and finds his curiosity leading him into a world where decadence is as commonplace as a stop-sign on a corner.

Sex also introduces us to an eccentric list of characters and villains, most notable of which is Cooke’s former “adversary” Annabelle Lagravenese; I’ll use the term “adversary” loosely since she was more of a sexually-charged distraction for the Armored Saint. Ms. Lagravenese was one of Saturn City’s former criminals parading around under the guise of her alias Shadow Lynx. A Catwoman to Cooke’s Batman, she has since hung up the “tights” in favor of running an escort service and, like Cooke, seems to find the transition a little less than facile.

Although the graphic – albeit beautiful – art is at first read a bit surprising, it’s not gratuitous. Yes, the book could have easily degenerated into nothing more than porn in the hands of a schmuck solely looking to shock us readers into doling out some cash for his/her comic book smut. But in the hands of a writer like Joe Casey, it’s more than the sexual imprudence on display; it’s what happens after the music stops and the proverbial party comes to an end. It’s the story of a man grappling with the desire for normalcy and continence while those around him live otherwise; in a city which cossets those who have the means and the resources to frivolously indulge to their heart’s content.

Sex is available as single issues or in trade at your local comic shop. Check it out, folks.

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