Review – Ice Cream Man #1 (Image Comics)

Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artwork: Martin Morazzo, Chris O’Halloran (colours)
Release Date: 17th January 2018

Ice Cream Man – a brand new Image Comics series from W. Maxwell Prince, Martin Morazzo and Chris O’Halloran – is a fairly unusual creation to say the least.  Made up of “31 flavours of weird shit”, the series takes the form of a series of unconnected one-shot stories, each linked only by the faintly unnerving presence of the title character.

It’s definitely an interesting approach, with a rapidly shifting tone throughout the course of this oversized first issue.  It starts off in a fairly innocuous, almost saccharine fashion before taking a left turn into the legitimately disturbing after just a few pages, and ultimately resolving itself with a dose of over-the-top ‘B-Movie’ insanity and a chilling denouement.

The story itself is based around young Byron McAlister, whose current home life is a little… unconventional, to say the least.  I’m not going to delve too deeply into the specifics, but the situation ultimately warrants a police investigation, with Detective Jialeou Hwan and her partner carrying out a somewhat shocking home visit.

Prince does a great job of introducing the Ice Cream Man himself here, fully capitalizing on our inherent distrust of people who are too cheerful (or is that just me?) to set us on edge even before the main story begins.  That said, we don’t really learn all that much about him throughout the course of the issue, as he lurks on the periphery for the most part, watching the disturbing events unfold.

Jileaou (dubbed “5V” due to her name containing all five vowels of the English alphabet) is an intriguing protagonist, although it’s a little disappointing to know that the next story will be (I’m assuming) starting from scratch with a brand new cast of characters.

The artwork is perfectly suited for a story like this, with thin lines from Morazzo and plenty of contrast from O’Halloran helping to underscore the key beats of Prince’s story.  There’s a stripped-down, slightly sterile approach to the art that only helps to emphasise the horror of the story.  Everything feels clean and tidy for the most part, almost like a commercial for a wonderful new neighbourhood, and it’s only when we delve a little deeper that Morazzo and O’Halloran get to show us the dirty, sinister underbelly of the town.

You can consider me hooked then, and it’s going to be fascinating to see what kind of stories this creative team are going to serve up to us in the months to come.  The trio have promised that we’re going to experience all different kinds of flavours over the course of the series, including chocolate, vanilla, drug addiction, musical fantasy – y’know, the usual kind of stuff – so it’s likely that there’s going to be something here to appeal to everyone as the Ice Cream Man’s travels continue.

Ultimately, Ice Cream Man feels a bit like Tales From the Crypt, albeit with slightly more ice cream, so if that sounds like something you might be interested in, you should definitely give this new series a try.  This first issue has horror, humour, crime drama and B-Movie schlock, and just when we think we’re starting to become accustomed to a particular flavour – lickety split! – it all changes again.  An intriguing and creative new series, and one that’s definitely worth a lick.

Rating: 4/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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