By W. Maxwell Prince, Martín Morazzo, Chris O’Halloran
Ice Cream Man #1, the debut in the new anthological series, is the bug in the ice cream you never knew you wanted. The premise of taking a seemingly innocent part of society and turning it into something sinister may not be new, but Prince, the writer of the series, is able to take that concept and freshen it up as The Twilight Zone meets Goosebumps and even the Brothers Grimm. Especially delightful in this issue are the colors by O’Halloran and pencils by Morazzo. The two are able to capture both the nostalgic aspects of a trip to see the ice cream man, as well as the paranormal aspects of the issue.
Recurring thematically is the orange glow of the sunset, established early on. In the first scene, it reflects a warm summer night, spent with ice cream and neighborly union. A few pages later, light shines in a dark room, revealing a dreadful sight. This aspect of revealing the underlying dread with light is clever, especially with a second read through. It becomes more clear that the inclusion of the specific shade of orange is intentional, and the objects it glows around carry more weight as foreshadowing and metaphor. This intentionality from O’Halloran ties in precisely with the theme of the issue as it twists the jolly ice cream man stereotype into something frightening and dark. Meanwhile, Morazzo’s realist style lines make the suggestions the issue makes hit that much harder. It’s work like this that separates Ice Cream Man from being just an entertaining read.
Prince creates a dense issue with smart uses of narrative. A TV screen shows the omnipresence of one of the villains. A mystery is solved in the background of an action scene. Even the introduction of the child whose story the issue follows serves a purpose, as its humor eases the reader out of tension. The narrator of the story steals the attention of every panel it occupies, though. Its ominous knowledge is both foreboding and addicting. Each time it speaks, it adds dimension to the what the issue and the series overall aims to achieve. Its first appearance, for example, is also the first clue that something is wrong, as it provides seemingly random facts in an ostentatious tone. Then, as the issue closes, Prince leaves readers with the tempting phrase: “There’s a flavor for everyone’s suffering”.
Ice Cream Man #1 teases a delightfully dreadful series to come from creators Prince, Morazzo, and O’Halloran. This book takes the creepiness of the ice cream truck’s siren song and matures it into a thematically strong and intriguing story. It’s filled with satisfying moments that illicit grimaces and even laughs. More than that, it sets itself apart from the crowd of other books by embracing the titular character. No one likes finding a bug in their ice cream cone, but Ice Cream Man #1 asks the question: would you even notice if there was?