Suspicions, our sleuth, and a soft strongman stretch out the story in this sustaining segment of Wicked Things. The ongoing series from the creative team behind Giant Days shows us the sweet-talking smoothness of a subtler Lottie against a series of strange casino smash and grabs.
Wicked Things #5
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)
September 23, 2020
Continuing where Wicked Things #4 left off, we see Lottie back in her own clothes and on the trail of a string of casino heists.
While Lottie is on the Casino Case, her friend Claire is investigating Lottie’s involvement in Kendo Miyamoto’s coma. Having promised at the end of the last issue to get Lottie out, Claire is now at university obsessed with the attempted murder. In a panel set reminiscent of Giant Days, we see Claire’s schoolmates uncomfortably discussing Claire’s interest in murder as she leaves to conduct more suspect interviews. Claire works her way through interviews of the snobs. While gaining nothing during an uncomfortable interview-perceived-as-date with Dieter, Claire moves to interview Ms. Maki, the translator for Kendo Miyamoto.
Claire believes Lottie is innocent, until she speaks with Ms. Maki. The literal picture that Sarin and Cogar paint of Maki’s tale of the attack is a stark contrast to the rest of the series. Sarin’s typically light-hearted style is put to eerie use with Cogar using only black, white, and red to depict a gruesome scene. The flat red feels sprayed onto the page, with splotches that look like dried blood. It reminds the audience of the reality of the attack. Yes, this is a book about a teenager, but it is not one without real violence or consequence. Claire says, “I don’t believe you, Maki! This is a nutty fantasy” but her face suggests otherwise. Sarin’s depiction of her expression is not disgust, but discomfort and disbelief.
Lottie does not learn of Claire’s shaken resolve, so Lottie’s scenes maintain the levity of the series. Lottie is back in her exceptionally fun plaid purple suit, stylish and professional in a way that adds a respectful air to her dealings with the police. Sarin uses a single panel to show Lottie moving through the static space as she talks through the clues she sees. It gives a nice impression of keeping the crime scene untouched as she notices details and out-of-place undergarments.
This moment contrasts her previous actions and we see a more controlled Lottie. After a few weeks, she’s settled into her civilian consultant role. She’s learned a way to balance her think-of-everything problem-solving skills with her colleagues’ expertise. Although the casino case preoccupies her, Detective Bohle reminds Lottie that she’s still a suspect in a serious crime. However, Lottie’s fear of going to jail seems to have dissipated. She’s gained some confidence in the system and for now, she trusts that Miyamoto-san will clear her name when he wakes up.
This issue shows us the evolving relationship between Lottie and her housemate Bulldog. A bulky man who previously embodied Lottie’s fears, he turns out to be an important ally and sounding board for the casino case. They bond over chess. The evolution of their matches, from him checkmating her early on to her doing the same at the end of the issue, parallels the development of Lottie’s understanding of the case. While he may have a delicate ego, he cares about Lottie and his two girls. There’s a comforting intimacy that Lottie and Bulldog have developed that provides solace in her isolation.
It doesn’t hurt that he knows his way around a well-executed heist. As they play, they suss out the details of the ongoing casino raids. While Lottie focuses on the patterns the raids make, the face of a badger, she doesn’t know the city itself. That’s where Bulldog’s knowledge comes in. He knows the underside of London and after seeing a map of the previous heist locations he knows the next place they’ll hit. Lottie brings this to the attention of her supervisors who plan an undercover operation that she cannot participate in.
Lottie, despite her eye for the absurd in premeditated crimes, lacks impulse control. And there is no truer temptation than the rooftop exit revealed at the end of the issue. A secret passage to a rooftop exit follows to “flipping freedom” but could damage the rapport she’s built with the police. Will fresh air and the chance to go undercover tempt her into breaking house arrest? Or have the practical approaches of Bulldog and Detective Bohle made their mark? We will find out in the next issue of Wicked Things.