How Scary Can an Ice Cream Man Be? (Image's Ice Cream Man #1 Review)

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I actually had no plans on picking up ICE CREAM MAN.  Image does put out a lot of cool, quirky books, but my comic budget is already stretched to its limit.  Plus, this book flew completely under my radar.  But, they had put a preview after last week’s YOUNGBLOOD, and I ended up reading it.  We see a young kid buying ice cream from an ice cream truck, while the narration starts talking about the world’s most deadly spider.  The kid gets home, puts a clothespin on his nose and the preview stops abruptly.  When I was done, I was asking “What the hell did I just read?”

Then I checked out the solicitation which told me “Chocolate, vanilla, existential horror, drug addiction, musical fantasy…there’s a flavor for everyone’s misery. ICE CREAM MAN is a genre-defying comic book series featuring disparate “one-shot” tales of sorrow, wonder, and redemption. Each installment features its own cast of strange characters, dealing with their own special sundae of suffering. And on the periphery of all of them, like the twinkly music of his colorful truck, is the Ice Cream Man—a weaver of stories, a purveyor of sweet treats. Friend. Foe. God. Demon. The man who, with a snap of his fingers—lickety split!—can change the course of your life forever.“  At this point, I just had to give the first issue a shot…


Ice Cream Man #1

Written by: W. Maxwell Prince

Art by: Martin Morazzo

Colored by: Chris O’ Halloran

Lettered by: Good Old Neon

Published by: Image

Cover Price: $3.99

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!


Summary: Our story starts with an ice cream man selling ice cream out of his truck to suburbanites.  A young man named Byron walks up to the truck without his parents and orders a chocolate cone with two scoops.  Byron heads home, and we meet his spider, Rupert and find out that his parents have been dead for a while now, each killed by a spider bite.

On the other side of town, Detective Jialeou “5V” Hwan and her partner Tony Briggs are taking a statement from a woman about a creature she calls “the thingamacritter” that sucked the skin right off of her cat.  Their captain gives them a new case, Tom and Henrietta McAllister have been reported missing by their employers for ten days now.  

Byron is wandering out in the woods when he finds some kind of animal paw that looks like it had been torn off.  He also finds the ice cream man, whose clothes have been torn to shreds.  The ice cream man shows him a trick, changing a stick into a chocolate cone with two scoops.  He warns Byron that these woods aren’t safe, and Byron should head home.

5V and Briggs arrive at Byron’s house. They find the door open, and the place is full of garbage.   They find the dead parents, and Briggs gets bit by Rupert, basically killing him instantly.  Byron takes the spider and runs off into the woods.  5V chases after him, and finds Byron being attacked by the “thingamacritter” who happens to be wearing the same torn clothes we saw on the ice cream man earlier. She pulls her gun on the beast, and it throws Byron at her.  Then Rupert bites the beast on the shoulder.  Rupert is tossed into the woods, and the creature rushes off.  

Byron is likely going to end up in the foster system, and the cops can’t find Rupert.  The issue ends with the ice cream man picking up Rupert, snapping his fingers and turning him into an ice cream cone.


Review: Even after reading the first issue, I am still not exactly sure what to expect from this series.  There were plenty of horror elements here including a killer spider, 5V hearing mysterious voices, and a creature that sucks the skin off of cats.  It’s been a real long time since I’ve read an ongoing horror comic that really grabbed me (Crossgen’s ROUTE 666 comes to mind), but it’s hard to tell if that is what this series is.  I came in here not knowing exactly what to expect...and I kind of finished the comic the same way.

All I know for sure is that this was one hell of a compelling first issue.   I hope that we see 5V down the road again.  They seem to suggest that each issue will feature a different cast of characters, but 5V seemed to have a lot more story to tell.  What was with the mysterious voices she kept hearing talking about bugs?  I also loved that her friends call her 5V because her first name Jialeou has all five vowels in it.

And what’s up with the ice cream man himself?  Is he some kind of werewolf or demon?  We’ve seen that he seems to have some kind of mystical powers...though all we have seen him do is turn things into ice cream, which is actually a rather handy power as far as I am concerned.  It’s heavily implied that he was the thingamacritter too.  

Like I said earlier, my comic budget is already over the top, so more often than not, when I add a new book it’s because it has a writer and/or artist that I was already a fan of.  I didn’t know W. Maxwell Prince’s work that much, but now I am really curious to check out his other works.  I am curious where this series will go moving forward.  There is a certain SANDMAN feel to this first issue, which is certainly a very good thing.

Typically with a horror comic, the art is just as important as the writing.  You need to create a real creepy mood to help get the scary across, and Martin Morazzo did that very well here.   Everything just comes together so well to create one of the most unique comic reading experiences I’ve had in a long time.

And I also loved that this issue was giant-sized but it was still only $3.99.  When Marvel does this on a first issue, they pretty much always charge an extra buck, which seems like a surefire way to ensure readers will pass on the book.  


ICE CREAM MAN really managed to grab my attention.  I didn’t know what to expect from this comic, but I got something wonderfully creepy and clever.  In a very crowded comic marketplace, ICE CREAM MAN has a lot that can make it stand out.  

 


 



Title:

Ice Cream Man #1

Written By:

W. Maxwell Prince

Art By:

Martin Morazzo

Company:

Image

Price:

$3.99

Pros:

  • Strong story and top notch art combine to create a unique, creepy comic experience.

  • Real strongly developed characters considering how briefly we get to see them.

  • Oversized first issue without raising the price!  Marvel should learn from this.

Cons:

  • Still not sure what this comic is going to look like in the long term.

Is it worth your $3.99?

Yes!  I had no idea what to expect from this comic, and it ended up being my favorite comic for the week,  Definitely worth giving a look, it’s been a long time since I read a comic this unique.

 
Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0