Ice Cream Man #11

Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martín Morazzo
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Publisher: Image Comics

Review by Jim Allegro

Writer W. Maxwell Prince does not care what you think about the traditional rules by which we create comic books. For, why else would he so casually toss aside narrative convention to write a connective arc within a comic anthology? And, why would he then fracture the storyline upon which that arc rested by setting it initially on a futuristic world, then abruptly moving it to early-twentieth-century Mexico, and now, in Ice Cream Man #11, re-locating it within a bizarre maze of reality television shows?

The third installment of the truly original “Hopscotch Mélange” continues the chase between our ice-cream man anti-hero Rick and his clad-in-black cowboy pursuer Caleb. But this time, the chase passes through a rather peculiar day in the life of writer Will Parson. Parson wakes up one morning to find himself a contestant on the reality dating show Mannequin House. That all of the other contestants on the show are actual mannequins, featureless and talking, clues us into the core question of the issue, and, perhaps the entire series from Image Comics: why have we all become so isolated and unhappy?

The answer is, of course, modernity. Love is a commodity, technology has reduced friends and family to faceless texts, and our ever-growing hunger for media culture and fame has dulled our capacity for true intimacy. Life itself is becoming a media-driven simulation, Will learns as he passes through a string of eerie reality shows. The Ice Cream Man’s place in our evolution toward disconnected imitations of ourselves is the issue’s most surprising revelation. The result is a thoughtful and entertaining nod to films and television shows such as the Truman Show and Supernatural.

Artist Martín Morazzo and colorist Chris O’Halloran further the disquieting atmosphere that marks this comic. Morazzo’s linework is unsettling, somewhere between firm and sketchy, as if the characters are at once real and unreal. His character’s eyes, which alternate between warm and menacing in a way that makes me think of Geoff Darrow, is the most haunting aspect of his art. O’Halloran meanwhile renders cool pinks and blues into haunting evidence of the lonely nature of our quest for meaning in a series of one-shots presently wrapped together in a memorable connective arc.

Verdict: Buy It!

Ice Cream Man is quietly becoming one of the most unpredictable and innovative genre-busting comic books of this generation. Get in now. Ice Cream Man #11 is a BUY.

Jim Allegro

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