Sex #11 by Joe Casey & Piotr Kowalski
Joe Casey would probably like readers to think of this series as something other than a thinly veiled Batman allegory, which is fair of him. Sex is more than a case study of Bruce Wayne plus explicit sex. That said, however, it is difficult to resist the temptation at times. One of the reasons is that Casey is continually shifting his focus, offering different perspectives on the life of Simon Cooke, who used to be the protector of Saturn City, its Armored Saint. Burned out on that former lifestyle, he is trying to readjust to an authentic civilian life. As might be expected, this transition is proving to be a bit of a challenge.
This issue begins with a confrontation between Simon and Keenan Wade, Simon’s former teen sidekick. Their brief partnership (lasting ten months) was a tense one. This issue provides a brief glimpse into their past dynamic with repeated flashback scenes of Simon berating Keenan. It would appear that Simon was never satisfied with Keenan, repeatedly questioning not only Keenan’s abilities, but his commitment as well. It is hard to read these scenes without thinking of the “tough love” Batman has dished out to all his assorted sidekicks and partners over time. The important difference is this is not Batman, a character with 75 years of pop cultural assumptions built into him. When Bruce would reprimand Dick/Jason/Tim etc, it might sound cruel, but we knew that Bruce would be proven right in the end. He’s The Batman after all—he knows exactly what he is doing.
And this leads me to one of the reasons Sex succeeds as more than a high concept gimmick. Casey has filled his story with people who are complex characters. In the debate between Simon and Keenan, it is not obvious who is “right” or “wrong.” Until this moment, I did not want to see Simon suit up again. He had served his tour of duty, and earned a civilian life. Yet, beneath Keenan’s bitter resentment, the young man has a point: there is a void which the Armored Saint’s absence leaves behind in Saturn City. Does not Simon have a responsibility to do what he can? Or has he earned his peace(such as it is)? Let someone else fight the good fight now. This debate raises an additional issue of class. It is easy for Simon to wave his hand, letting the problems fall on someone else’s head. He is a rich man, after all, surrounded by comfort. If street crime jumps, he will unlikely be personally effected. Not everyone is so lucky. Not everyone has another life they might resume as if they had simply been on vacation.
The fact that Casey leaves his readers with no clear cut answer to these questions, is another reason why Sex continues to be so satisfying . . .