By Dustin Cabeal
Listen… I have no idea what I read, but I enjoyed it. By that I mean, it’s unclear to me what’s going on in this story and where it’s going to go from here, but what I read was enjoyable. It really boiled down to one line of dialogue, which I won’t spoil, but basically, I was like, “yeah, I agree.” There was probably a swear word and something else that I said attached to that sentence, but that was the gist.
The story opens with the title character, the Ice Cream Man. It seems pretty normal except for the fact that it’s happening in the modern era and this dude has a 1940’s TV wholesome vibe to him. All the kids are in line with their parents except one; he proclaims that he’s a big boy and gets his cone and is on his way. Then the fucker puts a clothespin on his nose and enters his home. Come on… you know what’s happened. You don’t know how it’s gone down, but the narration will tell you that. I’m not here to regurgitate that in review form. Eventually, we meet a police officer that’s been assigned to look in on the parents of the kid when they stop showing up for work and shit gets weird. Weirder because at one point a woman has a cat skeleton and the Ice Cream Man turns into a werewolf or some shit, that part was in the preview so eat my ass for telling it to you.
Again, no fucking clue what I read, but it was my kind of weird. I’m sure a lot of other reviewers will say “it’s like IT and Twin Peaks had a comic book baby.” They’d be wrong to say that but boiled down to its meekest form maybe. For me, it was more along the lines of that episode nearly all supernatural/sci-fi shows have in which they venture into the seemingly ordinary suburbia and find weird crap, but we’re staying in that town with the weird crap.
W. Maxwell Prince’s writing is sharp, witty and all kinds of strange. The narration isn’t specifically for anything we see on the page, but it adds to the story in a remarkable way. Most it is actually just encyclopedia facts, but the way it’s written and the way it makes you speak them is catchy. Narration replaced word bubbles, but that doesn’t make them inherently better. Both have plenty of pitfalls, and at times weaker writers can bore you to death with them. Prince’s narration grabs your attention and holds it like a magician performing a trick.
Ice Cream Man is my first time seeing Martín Morazzo working with a different creator than his usual collaborating. Nothing against his other work, but damn it’s a lot better here in Ice Cream Man. There is a wide range of emotions that the art brings out and it’s not necessarily because of the characters. The visual storytelling is tighter than his previous work; there isn’t a wasted panel because the movement of the pages are fluid feeling. Otherwise, his linework is sharp and detailed. In particular, I enjoy how he illustrates lips and particularly the crease on the upper lip. Illustrating that crease in a non-annoying way is a big plus in my book. Chris O’Halloran’s coloring gives a distinct look to the book, half eerie and then half quaint and normal.
When I read the preview of this issue, I wasn’t expecting much. If anything, I thought it would end up trying a bit too hard to be weird, which is a huge turn off for me as a reader. Instead, what I found was the first book from Image that I’ve enjoyed in a long while. Over the last two years there’s been a familiar theme to all their titles, but nothing that’s grabbed me and excited me as a reader. Most of it’s been average, which is okay because if you’re honest with yourself, most comics are average just like most TV shows. Ice Cream Man has left an impression. I’m not going to say it’s the best book so far of the year or anything outrageous, but if it manages to deliver a few more issues like this one, we could be on to something. I’ll be looking forward to the next issue for sure.
Ice Cream Man #1