Image from Imagecomics.com
Sex Vol. 1: The Summer of Hard (Issues #1-8)
Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: Piotr Kowalski
Colorist: Brad Simpson
Publisher: Image Comics
What if Batman quit being Batman? That’s the simple premise behind Joe Casey’s new ongoing series, “Sex.”
Simon Cooke is billionaire, playboy, philanthropist at the head of a major corporation in Saturn City who also moonlights as the crime fighter, The Armored Saint. Cooke, on a seven month sabbatical following the death of his closest confidant, Quinn, tries to fulfill her dying wish in wanting him to have a normal life and give up the cape.
Cooke returns to Saturn City to take control of his family’s corporation and run the day to day operations. After years of superheroics, the daily grind is getting to him, sleeping through meetings and restless nights daydreaming of the past. Along with not knowing who he truly is, Cooke is having doubts seeing if anything he’s accomplished as The Armored Saint has truly done any good. He thinks that the city maybe in worse shape than before he started.
Trying help him through his identity crisis is his lawyer, Warren. Warren tries anything to get Cooke’s mind of his problems by taking him to parties, dinners or places of more cardinal satisfaction, the mythical Saturnalia. The only person Cooke can relate to is high-scale brothel owner Annabelle Lagravenese, aka former villain Shadow Lynx (and possible former lover), who is also going though the same identity crisis as Cooke.
Meanwhile, the Armored Saint’s absence is leading to an all-out-war between the various crime groups in Saturn City. With no one keeping them in check, the syndicates are eating at each other over territory and money, leaving Cooke’s former sidekick, Keenan, to do the work that Cooke no longer will do. Keenan may be getting in over his head.
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The correlations between Casey’s “Sex” and the “Batman” series are many. Cooke is Batman, Saturn City is Gotham, Annabelle is Catwoman, Quinn is Alfred and that’s just a few examples. Even the villains and syndicate leaders are characters, if not exact, of Batman’s Arkham Inmates. As a satire, its fine to have shades of other deconstructions of superheroes stories like “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” and “Incognito.” The star of Sex is really Piotr Kowalski’s art with hints of Steven Dillon’s carnage and Milo Manara’s eroticism, with neon colors juxtaposed with the darker themes of the story.
With volume one collecting the first eight issues, my main issue with “Sex” is that you get a tease at something great but the story never really climaxes. It reads as if Casey is teasing something more by stating on the first page that this story “Is a real motherfucker,” but by the end that promise is never fulfilled. The violence depicted sure is graphic, and the sex is portrayed so graphically that it would rival Howard Chaykin’s “Black Kiss,” but there isn’t enough substance to make me beg for more and pick up the single issues.
I’ve liked Casey’s stuff in the past (like the bizarre “Marijuanaman”), but I just wish there was more to “Sex” and I hope to see Casey give us more than just a peek next time around.
Image from Imagecomics.com