The funny stuff is still funny and the sexy stuff is still sexy in this series. So what’s left to talk about? Well, there is the conflict that threatens to split apart Lisa and Ally’s relationship. Though the volume begins with the former moving into the latter’s apartment with all sorts of romantic, sexual, and comedic hijinks ensuing. While things are going great for a while, there’s the issue of friendship that keeps the two from taking things to the next level. By that I mean Lisa keeps putting Ally in the friend zone whenever they’re together in public with or without friends. Considering all that they’ve done for each other, it starts to eat at Ally after a while and the semi-platonic introduction of Annie, a tattoo artist who has a budding interest in S&M, to their circle doesn’t do a whole lot to alleviate her fears. Things come to a head at a Halloween party where all this tension finally comes to the surface between Lisa and Ally, resulting in a lot of unwelcome emotional and physical pain for their relationship.
This should have resulted in a cliffhanger that makes the wait for vol. 5 feel agonizing beyond belief. Except, as the present-day sequences throughout the series have made clear, everything works out all right for Lisa and Ally in the end. So it becomes a question of “how” things are going to get better, rather than “if.” Which is a little less dramatic. I do have faith that creator Stjepan Sejic’s storytelling skills are up to the task of making that a compelling read as he skillfully develops the underlying issues that lead to the calamity at the end of the volume. The whole “friend zone” issue encompasses a lot of little issues in Lisa and Ally’s relationship, and even when things seem to be getting better it’s still clear that some kind of reckoning is in the offing just from how the tone of certain scenes is pitched. It might seem somewhat unbelievable that two women in a sexual S&M relationship who have just moved in together have trouble declaring their feelings for each other. I get that, but it’s also clear that they’ve established this specialized, comfortable niche for themselves that they need to break out of if their relationship is going to continue. I’m fully expecting to see that happen in vol. 5, along with all the resultant joy that’ll come along with it. (And the lulz too, because it wouldn’t be “Sunstone” without that.)