REVIEW: Wicked Things #3: Wicked Wishes

Charlotte Lottie Grote getting her civilian badge for working at the police office

A sleuth, more snobbery, and stolen goods set up a subplot in this succeeding segment of Wicked Things. The ongoing series from the creative team behind Giant Days shows us the superpowers of our slightly-ruffled protagonist. Suspicions and a slew of petty crimes capture Lottie’s attention in this newest installment.

Wicked Things #3

John Allison (creator, writer, variant cover), Max Sarin (art and cover), Whitney Cogar (colors), Jim Campbell (letters), Michelle Ankely (designer), Sophie Philips-Roberts (associate editor), Shannon Waters (editor)
Boom! Box
22 July 2020

Charlotte Grote looking Ruffled from coffe shift

Continuing where Wicked Things #2 left off, we take a break from the main mystery to understand how polos, vans, and pegboard might add up to conspiracy.

A Sleuth

Charlotte (Lottie) Grote, teen detective, is put to work in the office. Unfortunately, while promised to help in investigations, she is, essentially, an under-compensated intern. Encouraged to make tea rather than solve crimes, Lottie takes it on herself to get more substantial work. While she does what she’s asked to, that doesn’t mean she does it happily. Artist Max Sarin captures Lottie’s increasing frustration in so many excellent ways. From the exasperation on her face to the green and blue skulls that crop up around her (thanks to Whitney Cogar’s colors), the art fully characterizes Lottie. These details also demonstrate how and why Lottie is a lot. Her dialogue is supplemented by the way that she visually wears her emotions on her sleeves.

This is something that I identify with as someone who emotes with their whole body. It’s not just the eyes, or the mouth, or the head positioning. It is the way that Lottie’s whole being is embodied in her actions, such as when she slaps a notebook down with fine and specific movements to accent her annoyance. Or the way she hunches over when she imagines her life as an elderly person still serving tea. Sarin’s work with Cogar’s colors use all these methods to bring her feelings to life in this issue.

More Snobbery

While we don’t see the teen snobs in this issue, we do get a lot of snobbery from Lottie’s office mates, the actual detectives and police officers. These characters are TV police procedural archetypes: the uniformed officer who sees a bit of his own daughter in Lottie, the mild misogynist who overuses, as Lottie states, attitudes from the 1970s, and so on.

Sarin’s art does an excellent job of embodying each of these individuals. From smarmy to empathetic body motions and positions, we get unique relationships between each individual and Lottie herself. Specifically, there’s a panel where the officer who picks and drops off Lottie from her safe house is securing Lottie’s ankle bracelet. However, with Lottie positioned on the stairs, her drawn slightly smaller in perspective, and the officer kneeling down it’s reminiscent of a parent tying their children’s shoes. These scenes remind us that while Lottie thinks of herself as an adult than a child, she still has a lot to learn.

Stolen Goods

While this issue takes a break from the main series’ mystery, it doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to solve in this issue. A number of the crimes that Lottie observes from different detectives’s case loads appear connected. However, instead of working with the team, she exerts her skills by shouting it to the group, while standing on a desk. Clearly, Lottie’s strength is not in reading the room.

It is frustrating to be underestimated and Sarin’s art with Cogar’s colors really bring the audience into the triumph of that moment for Lottie. Unfortunately, Lottie’s behavior plays into the preconceived notions many of her cop colleagues have about her. They, and we as the audience, don’t see Lottie’s skills. Instead we get an almost trance-like image of her where it just suddenly adds up. Her cop colleagues only get her “whodunit” monologue. What is frustrating about her frustration though, is that the series validates her entitlement. On the last page of the issue the creators reveal that Lottie’s far-fetched idea is spot on.

Additionally, I hate that her skills come at the expense of a competent, seasoned, Black cop. Particularly, the way Lottie demonstrates her skills to others point to entitlement. Rather than walking her colleagues through how she came to her conclusions and why her hypotheses are valid, we get one image and Lottie’s monologue that demand we, as audience and her colleagues, believe her. This entitlement makes me concerned about the future of the series. Youthful exuberance is one thing, entitlement another. With this issue, it’s not clear where Lottie’s line is and without evidence that Lottie acknowledges this about herself I’m not sure I will continue to enjoy the series.

With a new, but essentially solved, mystery introduced in the issue I’m hesitant about where the next issue of Wicked Things may go. We could get some intriguing, character development with Lottie learning that solving a crime is not enough. That how one does it matters. Or we could get a smug white teen smirking at an experienced Black cop saying “I told you so.” At this point I’m not sure which is more likely.

Paulina Przystupa

Paulina Przystupa

Paulina (aka @punuckish) is a Filipino-Polish archaeologist and anthropology graduate student who grew up in the Pacific Northwest and loves comics and pop culture. Her academic work focuses on how buildings and landscapes aid or impede the learning of culture by children. In general, she is an over-educated fan of things; primarily comics, comics-related properties, cartoons, science-fiction, and fantasy. This means she takes what she knows and uses it to critique what she loves. Recently, she has brought such discussions to the public by organizing and moderating panels at comic cons centered on anthropology/culture related topics.

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