Sex v.1: The Summer Of Hard
I don’t usually do negative reviews, so I won’t dwell on this too long as I found it to be a bit of a disappointment. Having read the first couple of issues when they came out, I decided to wait and read the series in trade as it was fairly slow-moving and not a huge amount was happening.
Unfortunately, by the end of this first (eight-issue!) trade, I felt the same.
The concept is interesting enough - a Batman analogue returns to his city after making a promise to a dying friend to give up on his costumed identity - and the art by Piotr Kowalski is pretty good, especially when it comes to big establishing shots of the city or using light and shadow to create mood.
But I just didn’t feel like it really went anywhere. Each issue seems to juggle the same handful of subplots (a few involving the criminal underworld, one involving a retired Catwoman analogue, and a couple of other bits and pieces) without really advancing them in a big way. And when developments do come, they come at a snail’s pace.
Also, the series seems to play on its explicit sexual elements without really doing anything very interesting or meaningful with them. There are some vague attempts to explore the well-worn ideas linking costumed superheroes to repressed/frustrated sexuality, and the story builds up to a conclusion (of sorts) to this first batch of issues that is intentionally anticlimactic and limp.
But it all feels a bit gratuitous and not as arresting as the book seems to think, and I found myself wishing the space given over to sex was used to advance the story more instead.
Because by the end of the book, very little has really happened, despite setting up a potentially interesting cast of characters with potentially interesting backstories, in a potentially interesting location. That was my overwhelming feeling coming out of the book: unrealised potential.
Unfortunately there isn’t enough here to convince me that the book can realise that potential, so I don’t think I’ll be picking up volume two.