The teen detective, Lottie Grote, is an integral part of John Allison‘s shared universe, Bobbinsverse. She appeared as a main character in Bad Machinery, a few guest appearances in Giant Days, and is now starring in her own comic, Wicked Things. Wicked Things #1 reunites the Giant Days creative team of Allison, Max Sarin, and Whitney Cogar. It’s a more genre-centric story of a teen detectives award show that turns into a whodunit of its own.
However, Allison and Sarin take their time building the friendship between Lottie and Claire and showing her fandom for the famous Japanese detective, Miyamoto, and her not-so-thinly veiled disdain for her fellow detectives. Wicked Things #1 gets into the feeling of not caring, but actually caring, which is Lottie’s opinion towards teen detective awards. She doesn’t care if she’s nominated, then has a great, fun trip to the awards show in London, and isn’t present to get her award… for reasons.
Lottie is an exercise in breathtaking (and hilarious) facial expression from artist Max Sarin. She can go from moody, withdrawn teenager (Think Billie Eilish.) to wildly gesticulating across a row of panels when she think she’s been spurned by her idol, Miyamoto. Sarin and colorist Whitney Cogar make her magnetic presence sauntering from cluttered room at her mom’s house to a sunny train trip and the fancy hotel she got put up in for the teen detective awards.
Claire is a great counterbalance to her as her biggest cheerleader while also indulging in some of the hotel’s finer offerings like 18 types of birds. Her acceptance speech on behalf of the missing Lottie is a true study in sincerity. Sarin also gives her the same wide, wholesome eyes that she gave to Daisy back in Giant Days. Even though Lottie might seem burnt out on the whole detective thing, Claire is there to remind her of her passion for clues and capers. We could also use someone to believe us as much as she believes in Lottie. (The events of the last few pages of Wicked Things shed some doubt on this.)
If you like slow burn, character-driven mystery stories with quirky leads, then Wicked Things is the comic for you. The sheer absurdity of a teen detective awards show and convention makes it a showcase for comedy and fashion choices. (Claire rocks the Fleabag jumpsuit.) But, hey, there’s murder too.
Story: John Allison Art: Max Sarin Colors: Whitney Cogar Letters: Jim Campbell Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
Publisher: BOOM! Box, an imprint of BOOM! Studios Writer: John Allison Artist: Max Sarin Colorist: Whitney Cogar Letterer: Jim Campbell Cover Artists: Main Cover: Max Sarin Variant Cover: John Allison Unlocked Retailer Variant Cover: Gurihurui Price: $3.99
The Eisner Award winning team of John Allison and Max Sarin return to the world of Giant Days for a new series about everyone’s favorite child detective; Charlotte Grote.
Nineteen year old Charlotte Grote has her whole life ahead of her; headed straight to Oxford and a future as a real detective—until she’s framed for murder!
Given the choice between going to jail basically forever or joining the police, Lottie decides to hit the beat, all while trying to find the real murderer. Lottie may have been running rings about the police since her 9th birthday, but she’s never been on this side of the security tape.
Could the future of law enforcement be 5’2” with an extremely strong bangs game? Yes. Very yes.
Publisher: KaBOOM, an imprint of BOOM! Studios Writer: Grace Kraft Artist: Rii Abrego Colorist: Whitney Cogar Letterer: Mike Fiorentino Cover Artist: Missy Peña Price: $14.99
It’s never a dull day for Steven and The Crystal Gems in this collection of all new adventures! Peridot looks to Steven and Greg for help in learning about the power of music; Cat Steven needs Connie to help Steven learn to be a better owner; and Pearl helps Steven try to find the perfect birthday surprise for Connie!
Writer Grace Kraft and artist Rii Abrego (Adventure Time™) present all new stories from the world of the Cartoon Network Emmy® Award-nominated series featuring all your favorite characters!
Publisher: BOOM! Box, an imprint of BOOM! Studios Writer: John Allison Artist: Max Sarin, John Allison Colorist: Whitney Cogar Letterer: Jim Campbell Cover Artist: Max Sarin Price: $14.99
It’s never a quiet day at the University of Sheffield as best friends Esther, Susan and Daisy try do regular things like solving comic book shop capers, attending McGraw’s brother’s wedding, and Daisy learning to drive OH MY GOD WE’RE ALL DOOMED.
The Eisner Award nominated team of John Allison (By Night) and Max Sarin are back with new unforgettable stories about the best BFFs ever, including a special issue both written and illustrated by Allison himself.
Publisher: KaBOOM!, an imprint of BOOM! Studios Writer: Taylor Robin Artist: S.M. Mara Colorist: Whitney Cogar Letterer: Mike Fiorentino Cover Artists: Main Cover: Missy Peña Preorder Cover: Killian Ng Price: $3.99
Steven and Connie discover that books around the library have disappeared! It’s up to the two of them to confront the small worm-like corrupted gem responsible for this dastardly crime—and maybe learn more about Gem history while they’re at it!
2019 was an interesting year for me comics-wise as I did not get to read as widely or deeply as I liked because of a variety of factors, including my final two semesters of graduate school, working two library jobs (Where ordering and promoting comics were part of my duties.), and an impending move. Also, I decided to catch up on some “classic” comics like Miracleman, Ghost in the Shell, Junji Ito‘sTomie, and most of Brian Michael Bendis‘ and Michael Oeming‘s Powers, and Gail Simone‘s run on Secret Six.
However, I did have the opportunity to read some fantastic comics in 2019 as two of my favorite series of all time reached their conclusion. I also branched out a little bit, and this is the first time my year-end list has featured books from Ahoy and Harper Collins as well as a self-published comic.
10. Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion (Dark Horse)
Gerard Way, Gabriel Bá, and Nick Filardi‘s Umbrella Academy: Hotel Oblivion is as wild and anarchic as the Netflix show was tame and Muggle-friendly. Hotel Oblivion is a love letter to Silver Age supervillains while actually taking time to deal with the relationships between the Hargreaves siblings. Bá and Filardi’s visuals are a chaos magic-shaped bullet to the head and especially sings in the world and city-rending set pieces towards the end of the miniseries that I read in trade paperback format.
Beth Barnett‘s self-published graphic memoir-meets-historical biography Dreamers of the Day is one of the most unique comics I’ve read in recent years. It chronicles the author’s trip to England as she conducts research on a graphic biography about T.E. Lawrence aka Lawrence of Arabia and is educational while being emotionally compelling. If there’s one word to describe this comic, it is “enthusiastic” as Barnett’s passion for making art, studying history, and making it relevant to contemporary readers shines through in her iconic, Herge-esque art style and accessible prose.
8. Winter Soldier#2-5(Marvel)
Kyle Higgins and Rod Reis create a redemptive narrative for the sidekick-turned assassin-turned superhero and occasional black ops agent, Bucky Barnes in their Winter Soldier miniseries. The comic’s beating heart is the flawed relationship between Bucky and RJ, a child assassin, that Bucky sees a lot of himself in. There is both humor and tragedy in their interactions. Reis’ lush pencils to color art style works for both the emotional breakdowns and action beatdowns.
7. Steeple #1-4 (Dark Horse)
The fantastic John Allison (Giant Days) both writes and draws this miniseries about an Anglican priest in training named Billie, who is assigned to a parish in the kooky village of Tredregyn, Cornwall. Steeple has an “anything but the kitchen sink” tone as its plots include fights against sea monsters, a charismatic Christian cult connected to windmills, and an ongoing conflict against the Church of Satan. (Billie also strikes up an unlikely friendship with the Satanic priestess, Maggie.) Allison mines a lot of humor out of the idiosyncrasies of different religions and small town life as well as the melodrama of good versus evil, and his art is expressive as always with the help of colorist Sarah Stern.
6. Second Coming #1-5 (Ahoy)
Speaking of religious satire, Mark Russell, Richard Pace, Leonard Kirk, and Andy Troy do an excellent job of showing how the historical figure Jesus would be received in the modern world with the twist of having an “edgy” superhero named Sunstar as a roommate. Beginning with a retelling of the creation of the world, Russell and Pace walk a tightrope between reverence and irreverence touching on a variety of issues, including megachurches, homophobia, and Pauline theology. Another enjoyable part of Second Coming is Leonard Kirk’s inking when the story decides to be a traditional superhero comic for a second, or there’s a flashback to Satan tempting Jesus as he plays a complex role in the narrative.
I knew Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, and Tamra Bonvillain‘s Once and Future would be my cup of tea when it featured Arthurian legends and the town of Bath where I studied abroad in summer 2014 as plot points as well as having a complicated relationship between a grandmother and grandson at its core. Once and Future is action-packed read steeped in Arthurian lore with dynamic art from Mora and a mystical color palette from Bonvillain. It’s a straightforward adventure/dysfunctional family/romance comic that also plays with the symbols (Excalibur, Holy Grail etc.) and tropes of these kinds of stories, and I’m glad that it’s an ongoing and not just a mini.
4. Giant Days #46-54, As Time Goes By (BOOM! Studios)
Esther, Daisy, and Susan finally go their separate ways in the final issues of John Allison, Max Sarin, and Whitney Cogar‘s Giant Days plus a reunion one-shot where Daisy and Susan tag-team and rescue Esther from the clutches of Type A London publishing types. The final year of Giant Days had a lot of pathos to go with its usual comedy with several issues focusing on the strained relationship between Susan’s boyfriend McGraw and his father and his reaction to his sudden death. There is also all the usual college shenanigans with moments of reflection to show that these women have come a long way from randomly sharing a room back in far off 2015.
3. House of X #1-6, Powers of X #1-6 (Marvel)
In their ambitious twelve-issue House of X/Powers of X “event”, Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva, and Pepe Larraz made the X-Men relevant again thanks to a heavy dose of speculative fiction, geopolitics, and good old fashioned superhero soap opera. Hickman gave B-list characters like Goldballs, Doug Ramsey, and of course, Moira MacTaggert and the sentient island of Krakoa pivotal roles in his story of a rise of a mutant nation as well as the usual suspects like Magneto, Professor X, the Summers family, Jean Grey, and Emma Frost. He created a fantastic sandbox for these fan-favorite characters to play in as well as leaving some intrigue open for the spinoff stories. (The whole Moira X thing, Kitty Pryde being unable to enter Krakoa, Apocalypse and Sinister’s intentions.) I haven’t been this excited to read the X-Books as a line since Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen were writing Wolverine and the X-Men and Uncanny X-Men respectively. Plus the Hickman designed diagrams add great depth to the story and area visual treat.
2. New Kid (HarperCollins)
New Kid is a middle-grade graphic novel by cartoonist Jerry Craft that was recommended to me by my supervisor at the public library I worked at. Itis about an African-American teenager named Jordan, who transfers from a diverse public middle school to a less diverse private one. Over the course of the book, Craft fleshes out Jordan and his relationships with his old friends from his neighborhood to his new ones at the private school as he navigates playing soccer, racial microaggressions, crushes, and bonding over art and video games. The comic deftly navigates race and class issues while being an enjoyable slice of life story with Craft adding some fun visual flourishes like making the title page of each chapter a pop culture homage. New Kid‘s clear storytelling and a relatable storyline about not fitting in at a new school make it a book that I would recommend to kids and adults, comics and non-comics readers.
1. The Wicked + the Divine #41-45 (Image)
Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson really stuck the landing in the final arc of The Wicked + the Divine, which was titled “Okay” and followed the surviving Pantheon members as they gave up divinity and lived normal lives. Basically, they grew up, and so did I. The last issues of WicDiv are peppered with powerful moments as Gillen and McKelvie connect flashbacks of the millennia past to the Pantheon’s reality and let Ananke/Minerva be a manipulator, Luci be wicked, Baal be a protector, and Laura be human one last time. The final issue is an epilogue set in the future and filled with love and emotion with McKelvie and Wilson nailing the look of the elderly, former Pantheon members. It’s sad to see WicDiv go, but it had a beautiful ending and was my favorite comic, both of 2019 and of the decade as a whole.
Publisher: KaBOOM, an imprint of BOOM! Studios Writer: Taylor Robin Artist: S. M. Mara Colorist: Whitney Cogar Letterer: Mike Fiorentino Cover Artists: Main Cover: Missy Peña Preorder Cover: Borg Sinaban Price: $3.99
Greg and fan-favorite character Bismuth team up to defend Beach City while the Gems are off-world. Yeah… Beach City is doomed.
BOOM! Studios has announcedWicked Things, reuniting the Eisner Award-winning team, writer John Allison, artist Max Sarin, colorist Whitney Cogar, and letterer Jim Campbell for a new original six-issue series about everyone’s favorite young detective from the world of Giant Days: Charlotte Grote.
Nineteen year old Charlotte “Lottie” Grote has her whole life ahead of her; headed straight to university and a future as a real detective—until she’s framed for murder! Given the choice between going to jail basically forever or joining the police, Lottie decides to hit the beat, all while trying to find the real murderer. Lottie may have been running rings about the police since her 9th birthday, but she’s never been on this side of the security tape. Could the future of law enforcement be 5’2” with an extremely strong bangs game? Yes. Very yes.
Publisher: BOOM! Box, an imprint of BOOM! Studios Writer: John Allison Artist: Max Sarin Colorist: Whitney Cogar Letterer: Jim Campbell Cover Artists: Main Cover: Max Sarin Variant Cover: Max Sarin Price: $7.99
One year after their graduation from university, Esther De Groot and Daisy Wooten are back in Sheffield for a reunion with Susan and McGraw.
The year apart has not been easy for all of them, and this reunion will only draw out the secrets they have all been keeping for too long!
The series finale of one of the most acclaimed comics series of the decade reveals the future of everyone’s favorite best friends!
Publisher: BOOM! Box, an imprint of BOOM! Studios Writer: John Allison Artist: Max Sarin Colorist: Whitney Cogar Letterer: Jim Campbell Cover Artist: Max Sarin Price: $14.99
The third (and final!) year of university is finally here, and BFFs Daisy, Esther, and Susan are in for some surprising upsets in their first semester. Between Halloween run-ins with Daisy’s dreaded (dreadful) ex, part-time gigs at a shady pop-up Christmas market, Esther dating a tech-bro, and Susan attempting to be…romantic, there’s still plenty to learn and more than enough misadventure to squeeze in before it’s time to don caps and gowns!
Written by John Allison (Scary Go Round, By Night) and illustrated by the incredible Max Sarin, Giant Days volume 11 kicks off third year with a bang, collecting issues #41-44 of the Eisner Award-nominated series.