It’s Not All About the… – Sex Book One: The Summer of Hard

Sex is probably one of the smartest books on the stands.  The best thing about this book is that it treats the reader like an adult – and it is a book for mature readers.  It does feature sex within its pages, as well as violence, cursing and all manner of adult-type situations.  It is a book for grownups, or frankly, most comic book readers these days.  It is also brilliant by the way.  That was mentioned already, but it bore repeating.  The book is honest and forthright and does not try to hide anything within its pages, except the actual planned surprises by writer Joe Casey.

Sex takes us on a journey of a retired superhero named Simon Cooke, formerly the Armoured Saint.  His partner and mentor having died some time previous, has left him shaken and left with a promise to find a life outside of the never-ending battle.  And so the book opens with him returning to Saturn City to head up his company and see if he can get on with what people call life.  It is not so easy though, as for most of his life, over half of it, he has been fighting crime.  To suddenly step into normality does not sit well, and Simon is having trouble doing so.  He has problems with women, with co-workers and with friends including his lawyer.  He has never been inebriated either and upon being so, finds it is not really the thing for him.  The only thing that he can seem to concentrate on is his past life, and his one-time foe Shadow Lynx whom he keeps obessessing over.  But not all is peaceful in his world and though he is unaware of it, crime, and his former foes, is on the rise.

Summing it up more succinctly, the book is about one man’s life, not necessarily about sex though it figures heavily into the book.  It is scattered throughout the book and serves to move the plot and the issues along at a fairly decent and brisk pace.  The story is text heavy at times, but is never really noticeable as it is so interesting and absorbing that you savour every word and do not even come to realize that you have just sat and read for an hour thinking it had only been a couple of minutes.  And those words that Casey has penned are sharp as well, and cut your mind with their directness and meaning.  The title alone – Sex – more of a statement than a subject, cuts through the preconceived thoughts of what this book could be once you come to figure out it is not just about the act.  Frankly the best sex featured in the book is that between the pages and your retinas as they take in the story and art that is laid out before you.
The art is fantastic as well.  Piotr Kowalski, wherever he has been hiding, is a revelation.  That art coupled with the colouring by Brad Simpson make this book a much more in-depth read than would have been otherwise.  At times the colours convey the mood with their sparse pallet as Kowalski brings it home with his tight, yet flowing pencils.  His women are gorgeous and objects of desire, whether he means them to be or not.  The men, most oftentimes are the same, except in some particular cases such as the Foggy Nelson-ish lawyer and The Old Man.  Kowalski makes the book seductive whether through the aforementioned sex, through the violence that takes place within the book or simply through situation as his pencils draw you in.  Together he, Casey and Simpson make this one of the best looking books out today.

Building his world up around Simon and Saturn City, Casey does a great job and it comes to life quite naturally as we get to learn about some of the different areas within its limits.  We come to know about the people, the heroes and the villains who inhabit the world and most of them, if not all of them, have something that they are hiding.  Everyone and everything in the book seems seedy and dirty under the surface and Casey does a great job of putting that across to the reader, but at an eventual pace.  Not everything in the book is as it seems and it makes the story much richer for being so.  The chapter titles are genius as well often having multiple meanings and leave you never knowing what they refer to until you finish said chapter.  On every level, this book is a marvel to read.

If there is one thing that can be said about the book, much like its title is that it always leaves you wanting more.  Even when you finish, you just want to pick up where you left off and continue on.  In the case of this tale, you have to wait either monthly for the single issues, or months for the trade.  Because of all involved, creators and subject matter, it is worth the wait, and more than likely, all the more satisfying for having done so.

5 out of 5

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