SFSX (Safe Sex) #5 Review

by Jay Hill on January 14, 2020

Written by: Tina Horn
Art and colors by: Jen Hickman
Lettered by: Steve Wands
Published by: Image Comics

"You're only a rebel from the waist downwards[.]” – Winston Smith (Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four)

The mission to infiltrate the Pleasure Center is underway in SFSX #5. The issue is framed with timestamps at the top of some pages giving it immediate tension. The already suspenseful mission is then kept nerve-racking with a pace that plays well with the composition of the issue. It feels like some of the most “action” this series has seen without having any flashy scenes. This is a “jigsaw falling into place” or “dominoes toppling” sort of story where everything from the previous 4 issues leads to this organic series of events. There are some surprising explorations into Dr. Powell. He is given a past and some personality that develops him and keeps him from feeling 2 dimensionally villainous. That is one thing Tina Horn has been great at. She fleshes many elements out and displays the level of thought she’s put into this story. As seen slightly in the previous issues, there is some conflict within the Party. Boreman has to share her big moment with the cop Avory stilettoed; that stands as another example of the depth of Horn’s writing. This interests me a lot. The inner-Party fighting could be a great addition to the story dynamic. Maybe the best way to take down the beast is from the inside.

Since the Dirty Dozen Filthy Five’s jailbreak was detailed in the last issue, any complications that arose would have been obvious to the reader immediately. I was hoping this issue wouldn’t hinge on big mistakes by the team or sudden unforeseen problems. And, luckily, it doesn’t go that route, for the most part. The spot that the jailbreak ends in is one that is understandable given all the factors in place. With the issue ending in the most interesting situation yet, it has me at my most engaged to see what happens next.

Jen Hickman has taken over the art and colors for the book. The new style has a fun and cool aspect to it, not to take away from how serious it can get. But, with the story involving elements like going undercover at a high society ball and a group of friends breaking into a highly secure building, I’d say that “coolness” is quite appropriate for some of the subject matter. The scene where Avory almost busts her backside seemed to be a great showcase of the strengths of how this new style plays with the writing. That scene also featured Hickman’s fantastic coloring which was a real standout in the last issue and continued to shine in this one. The coloring has such a creative way of blending colors by brushing them atop each other; it’s very nice to look at and lends a unique atmosphere. Hickman shows great confidence with their panel layouts. They are neat but layered in creative ways and used interestingly. Those panels then create nice little canvases for Hickman’s shots that are framed to match the panel's shape perfectly. Steve Wands also deserves some recognition for his lettering. There were too many times when I noticed how visually pleasing it was for me not to give it a mention.

Tina Horn’s tale of sex, suppression, and solidarity is continuing to be a great read. This comic is not short on ideas or entertainment. And, in this issue, you can add suspenseful action to the long list of elements this comic brings to the table. With Jen Hickman’s “cool” art and magnificent colors, the sex is still in safe hands.

Our Score:


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