By Zack Quaintance — There was bound to be a bit of a slowing down after the revelations of Ice Cream Man #9, a comic that (cliche alert!) took everything you thought you knew about this series and flipped it on its head. Ice Cream Man #10 had the difficult task ahead of it of returning the audience back ever so slightly to the core concept of this series, while still building on the mind-bending preceding chapter.
For those who may have missed it, Ice Cream Man #9 put the titular white-clad ice cream man in the foreground along with the black clad hero figure who’s been chasing him (and who he murdered in Ice Cream Man #8, but that’s a whole other thing…), and it put them front and center in what is presumably a different planet...or a different dimension...or our same planet during a mythological time of gods when fate was still undecided...or all three? As you can see, the whole thing was very Stephen King’s Dark Tower.
The effect it had on the audience was all very impressive, reorienting our understanding of the connective tissue between the preceding eight issues. Ice Cream Man #10 doles out, hmm, let’s say a half scoop of more context around that, while instead returning to the horror-tinged vignettes that have run throughout this series. This was a great choice, reminding us that while, yes there is some sort of potentially cosmic epic of gods and spirits raging behind the mundane everyday facade of the world, possibly spilling over at times to inflict great pain and suffering upon the normals (normals like us), the real important stuff here has been that everyday facade all along.
Now, I won’t front like I have any idea whatsoever what may or may not happen in the final three issues of this series. C’mon—I know my limits, but I think making it just as much about the individuals we’ve seen brutalized, tormented, and in rare instances left to grow old and happy as it is about whoever these elemental forces are? Well, I think that’s a very good flavor, indeed (jesus, sorry about that, it’s late and I clearly should have written this earlier…).
In more practical matters, it should perhaps be noted that the vast majority of this issue was written in Spanish. I can read Spanish myself at maybe a third grade level, somewhere in that vicinity, and I didn’t struggle with comprehension at any point, not even for a moment. If you have even a cursory handle on the language, you’ll glide seamlessly through it. Even if you don’t, though, you’ll be just fine. If you really need to know every last word, Google Translate has gotten amazingly proficient lately (seriously, it’s one of the best inventions of our modern era and like nobody talks about it...we can instantly translate like anything!). This entire issue is set on the border, and writer W. Maxwell Prince approaches it with the attention to immersive detail that has powered this entire series.
The venue shift really works well for this story and this comic, given that to date everything took place in an idyllic (on the surface, anyway) suburb. Essentially, it fits with the expanded scope of the story as established by last issue. If this is going to be a tale of deep and massive forces, it needs to effect all of space and time, and that’s what we start to get in Ice Cream Man #10. Meanwhile, Martin Morazzo’s artwork continues to impress with colors by Chris O’Halloran, and as usual, the letterer, in this case Good Old Neon (yes, you read that right), is the unsung hero of the creative team.
Overall: One step back and two steps in some potentially cosmic direction nobody saw coming, Ice Cream Man #10 nudges the series back toward its core concept—horror vignettes—while still pushing forward the overarching narrative. This is one of the best comics today, and we should all be grateful for it. 9.4/10
Ice Cream Man #10
Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Good Old Neon
Publisher: Image Comics
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Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.