Sleuths, snobbery, and suspense sum up this singular start to Wicked Things #1. The new series from the creative team behind Giant Days starts off sinister and sets up a strange and scintillating mystery. One where the star is both suspect and sleuth.
Wicked Things #1
Creators: John Allison (creator, writer, variant cover), Max Sarin (art and cover), Whitney Cogar (colors), Jim Campbell (letters), Gurihiru (retailer variant), Michelle Ankely (designer), Sophie Philips-Roberts (associate editor), Shannon Waters (editor)
March 18, 2020
Giant Days is one of my favorite series. So when John Allison, Max Sarin, and Whitney Cogar’s names were on a new book, set in the same world, I was excited and nervous. Giant Days looms large. When I read the last issue, which I did not realize was the last issue until it was too late, I cried. Could another series come close? Or would it just make me remember that Giant Days was over?
When I opened the first pages though, it felt like coming home. The joy and emotion of Sarin’s art and Cogar’s colors brought me back to Giant Days, even if Esther, Susan, and Daisy were not the main characters.
Wicked Things focuses on Charlotte Grote, a now teen detective who first appeared in Allison’s Scary–Go–Round. I was briefly introduced to Charlotte in Giant Days, as the younger sister of Sarah Grote who visited Esther de Groot at University.
In Wicked Things, it’s Charlotte’s turn to go to Uni. We see her hanging out in her room, not packing, and lamenting never being nominated in the teen category for the annual National Solver detective awards. Except, this year she is nominated. Her friend Claire Little nominated her, so the two go off to attend the awards before the start of the new school term.
One of the things I adore about Sarin’s work, encapsulated by these two characters, is that they always use a variety of body types for their characters. While Cogar’s colors make Charlotte and Esther appear similar, pale with long dark hair, Charlotte has curves while Esther does not. I love the way this plays out with her suit when she first arrives at the National Solver event. I love a nice suit and seeing one drawn on someone with solid hips is a refreshing change.
Impeccably dressed in said suit, Charlotte meets the other teen competitors for the National Solver awards. While a successful sleuth, with a plethora of local newspaper clippings proving her prowess, Charlotte feels dwarfed in the room. She knows almost all of her competitors by reputation and look. Sarin depicts them as the sort of people who look good in sweats and an old T-shirt. Not only that, they physically loom over Charlotte, who is only 5’2”.
They seem to not recognize her or acknowledge her as competition. While obviously annoyed, thank you Sarin and Cogar for the excellent skulls emanating from her, Charlotte knows her worth. She wakes up the next morning calm and excited for the event. At an opportune early breakfast, she has the chance to meet with Kendo Miyamoto, possibly the best detective in the world.
And my folks, you can’t have a sleuth without a mystery. Nor can you work on an empty stomach, and this turned out to be a very important breakfast for Charlotte. Miyamoto-san’s companion invites Charlotte to the table to meet the famous detective but that companion translator is obviously playing a long game. The next nine panels depict the interaction. Contrasting Charlotte’s excitement, stars, diamonds, and blushing; with the shock and disgust of Miyamoto, lines and then waves of irritation.
They are literally having two different conversations as Miyamoto-san’s companion changes Charlotte’s words. This does not bode well. So when the translator appears again unexpectedly, later in the issue, I was expecting the worst. And essentially, that’s what we get. Charlotte, finding a hero of hers stabbed and getting arrested as a suspect. So the mystery begins.
The sleuth and the snobs will meet again in the next issue and I’m excited to see more. While this takes on a more violent topic than anything in Giant Days, it does not feel excessive nor overdone. We do not see a graphically violent scene and teen Charlotte is not made to witness one, which I appreciate. We still don’t know that Miyamoto-san has died, which is a terrible thing to pin on a teenager, but there are clearly lots of moving parts. Our only clue so far is the translator and we’ll only know more by picking up the next issue of Wicked Things.