Charlotte Grote is living the dream as a teenage detective, solving crimes and getting some local notoriety. The big recognition comes from the National Solver awards and at long last, she’s been nominated. Charlotte finally gets to hob-knob with the other amateur sleuths and finds that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Also, there’s MURDER!
Wicked Things reunites the creative team behind one of my absolute favorite comics, Giant Days. Writer John Allison, artist Max Sarin, colorist Whitney Cogar, and letterer Jim Campbell have not missed a beat. They have seamlessly transitioned to some new characters and a new genre and it’s just as fun, quirky, and interesting as ever.
Unsurprisingly, there’s a mystery vibe to Wicked Things, especially when the aforementioned murder happens. The thing is that you don’t necessarily realize you’re in a mystery story until something big and shocking happens. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in Charlotte’s antics that you’re completely blindsided.
Much of this is attributable to Sarin’s artwork, using just the right amount of cartoonish elements to provide larger-than-life characters. Every emotion is amplified by their expressions, from Charlotte’s initial shock of being nominated to the condescending nature of the other detectives to Charlotte’s anger at not being accepted by this crowd. This instantly defines the personalities of each character in a really fun way.
Cogar blends the bright, airy nature of all these personalities with just the right amount of shadow and intrigue. Although we are dealing with murder, Wicked Things doesn’t get into the doom and gloom of it all. Yes, it’s shocking, but it doesn’t suddenly turn into an episode of Law & Order. That’s a delicate balance and Cogar absolutely nails it.
Campbell helps with this aspect as well. The tension rises just so when Charlotte has an exclamation with big, bold text. Similarly, the dialogue seems to move faster as Charlotte starts to put some pieces together and her words get italicized for extra emphasis.
Allison packs quite a lot of story in this debut issue. Looking back on it, we get so much in a short amount of time. The characters are all introduced with extra time spent with Charlotte since she’s the main one, the basic hook comes in with a smash, and we get a ton of background. Even with all this, Wicked Things never feels overwhelming. It flows at a nice pace.
I was predisposed to liking Wicked Things after how much I loved Giant Days. I would have been completely satisfied with Giant Days II. Wicked Things is not that and that’s not a bad thing. Instead, it stands on its own as a solid murder mystery with all the fun and quirkiness we’ve come to expect from this creative team. It will leave you intrigued and smiling, which is a great combination.