SFSX (Safe Sex) #4 Review

by Jay Hill on December 19, 2019

Written by: Tina Horn
Art by: Michael Dowling
Colors by: Jen Hickman
Lettered by: Steve Wands
Published by: Image Comics

“I hate purity, I hate goodness! I don't want virtue to exist anywhere. I want everyone to be corrupt to the bones.” – Winston Smith (Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four)

After an issue that took a look back at past events from a different pov, this issue moves the story forward with great efficiency. Although the last issue was fun and had great art by Alejandra Gutiérrez, it did feel like it could have been a misuse of time, but this issue proves the plot is on a great track. The rebellion is planning their attack on the Pleasure Center and it seems like it just might work. The dynamic between our main group of characters is good and although they still have some patching up to do, it’s nice to see them not bickering with each other. The best part of this issue was the scenes of George’s rehabilitation in the Pleasure Center. The brutality of it, reminiscent of Winston Smith’s experience in the Ministry of Love, really drove home the madness of his captures. Tina Horn showing George is a fan of pain at the beginning, then showing the irony of his circumstance was really good; him saying, "I didn't consent to any of this," was heartbreaking. But then, she also shows how resilient he has been made. However, it was watching Jones’ transformation, or “reformation”, that was the most brutal. The former leader of the Dirty Mind has now completely turned into the Pleasure Center’s greatest asset. There seemed to be no hint in her actions that she was still the purveyor of perversions she once was. This deep glimpse into just how much of her mind has been taken over by the Party makes the main plot even more interesting because, if their mission does work and they can infiltrate the Pleasure Center, do they actually want to see what they’ll find there?

This is the parting issue for Michael Dowling on art. I love his use of lines. He knows exactly how to flesh out detail with a few well-placed strokes of the pen. And, his way of bleeding the lines into deep shadow gave it a nice noir flair. That moody flair added to the brutality and desperation of the scenes of George’s torture. And, Jen Hickman, who will be providing the art going forward, colored this issue outstandingly. Their colors really popped in this issue. I immediately notice them in the opening scene at the Dirty Mind. They infused that look back at a happier time with colors that gave it a sensual quality. The way Hickman blends colors is what sets them apart, that technique gives scenes a distinct mood. Especially, seen in the coloring of the Pleasure Center's soulless interior. The color blending was then used to denote scaring on the flesh in multiple scenes. You could see the scaring of the tattoos taken off of Jones, showing physically what the Party has done to her mentally. I’m looking forward to what Hickman will add when they take over but I have to say the pair worked perfectly in tandem. The scratchy and frantic lines mixed with the infusion of coloring was exactly what this issue needed.

The plan to infiltrate the Party and break into the Pleasure Center has been mapped out. This was the issue required after the last issue's look back; it moves the story forward with skill. And, the tragic scenes of George’s current ordeal made the stakes clearer than ever. With the plan being to rescue him and Jones, and given Jones’ actions in this issue, you have to wonder can they actually save them both?

Our Score:


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