The previous volumes of this series have carried an albatross around their metaphorical necks. (It’s a reference, not a weird sex thing. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if it was turned into a weird sex thing given how this title rolls.) An albatross by the name of Myrtle “Kegelface” Spurge. It’s understandable that series called “Sex Criminals” would have a kind of “Sex Cop” as its main antagonist, but she goes about her business in a way that feels counterproductive, unfair, and more than a little vindictive. I have an immense dislike for the character, is what I’m saying here. So I was surprised to see that writer Matt Fraction managed to humanize even a little bit in this volume.
Still out to get Jon and Suzie for their bank-robbing by way of orgasmic time-stopping antics, Myrtle has now set her sights on establishing a relationship with Jon’s therapist. This is so that she can get the doctor’s notes on Jon and find a way to really put the screws to the miscreant’s actions. Problem is that she actually starts to have feelings for Dr. Glass and the deception leading to the actual theft really starts to grind on her. Oh, and there’s whatever toll all this is taking on her current marriage to consider as well.
This adds some much needed depth to the character and makes her less of a plot device whose purpose in the story is simply to obstruct the progress of the main characters. I still hope that she’ll be shown the error of her ways -- How much trouble would it have been to just sit down with Jon and Suzie and explain to them the rules for how their powers are regulated? -- but her development here is a step in the right direction.
Meanwhile, the title characters’ romantic drama continues to engage, with plenty of sexual drama between the old and new characters to help keep your interest throughout the volume. Vol. 3 also features what may be the title’s most self-indulgently meta sequence as Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky go back and forth (Well, Fraction does. Chip gets a fur coat, nods off, and talks about how “Howard the Duck” funds his coke habit.) about what would’ve been a particularly on-the-nose argument between Suzie and former porn star/current human sexualit professor Ana Kinkaid about their respective life choices.
If you’ve merely tolerated the creators’ meta hijinks up until now, then this sequence may be a dealbreaker for you. This four page sequence puts a hard stop on the plot as the issues with having Suzie and Ana argue are hashed out with a fair amount of ridiculousness. Personally, I loved it. It was easy to imagine how this argument would’ve played out in the comic and how much of a downer it would’ve been. Fraction and Zdarsky’s approach is a lot more fun with its wicked sense of self-deprecation. From Matt’s “tortured artist” mindset, Zdarsky’s self-absorbed indifference, the gun-shaped doughnut, and the “How could this be masturbatory?” climax, it’s a master class in how to dodge a necessary plot point and still convey its essential information. Some might see the whole sequence as terminally self-indulgent, but I’m not one of them.
The volume ends on a high note as several of the major players converge together and begin to hash out their issues. With a minor involvement of fisticuffs. It sets up a potential Anti-Spurge coalition for vol. 4, assuming these people can get over their differences. As well as the fact that one of them is capable of generating a tentacled magical girl monstrosity with their semen. I’m down with that, as well as any further character development that moves Kegelface in the direction of “actual, relatable human being.”
(BTW, all of the issues here were originally published with XXX-variant covers. None of them are reprinted here, so you’ll have to go buy the actual issues if you want to see these covers. Or, you know, just Google “Sex Criminals comic XXX covers.”)