Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Art: Martin Morazzo and Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Good Old Neon
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: January 26th, 2022
Ice Cream Man #28 presents another twisted tale from Prince, Morazzo, O’Halloran, and Good Old Neon. This “Twilight Zone” type series continues to produce great horror tales and this issue is no exception.
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Edgar Allan Poe would have loved this book, especially Ice Cream Man #28, which tells one of Poe’s favorite types of stories: a man’s obsession leading to his downfall.
This issue’s main character is Brian Gartner, an etymologist, a scholar of words (as opposed to an etymologist, who studies insects, which is Gartner has to hilariously explain several times during the story).
Gartner has heard a legend of a holy man living on top of a mountain who knows the ultimate word, a word that will give a person godlike power when they hear it. So he and a guided journey to the mountain top, a Shangri-La type destination, and neither man are prepared for what they find.
It’s impossible to root for Gartner’s success because he’s the worst combination of an arrogant intellectual and a sad sack. This is the kind of guy that would sit in a movie theater and yell how wrong the film’s writers are about the horsepower of a 1985 Trans-Am, then mope because he’s always alone and women find him as attractive as a trash bin taco.
His guide Sam is a bit shady himself and you never really trust him, especially on the more precarious parts of the journey. He’s subtly sinister but also very philosophical, like a combination of Caine from “Kung Fu” and Dracula’s sidekick Renfield (without the unsightly bug-eating). So yes, neither character is very likable, but it’s still fun watching their journey. The story has a few tense moments, especially one taking place on a rope bridge, and the story ends in a satisfactory way. This is why I love self-contained stories like this, because anything can happen to any of the characters at any time, unlike a typical superhero book, where you know the hero’s going to be 95% unscathed, no matter what happens. This book always keeps me guessing until the last page, and I love it.
Martin Morazzo and Chris O’Halloran’s art for Ice Cream Man #28 is simple but effective. The coloring gives each page an atmosphere of creepiness, and Morazzo excels at expressions of horror and terror, perfect for this book. Gartner is drawn to look like a typical over-studious professor type, with huge glasses and a Smoky the Bear-type park ranger hat that’s comical. The terrain itself isn’t drawn with much detail, but since this is a character-driven story, that doesn’t really matter.
I enjoyed Ice Cream Man #28, and I’ve been enjoying this book issue after issue. It reminds me of a more sophisticated EC horror comic, with all the chills and bloody horror of one of those pre-code comics mixed with some complex ideas and a great atmosphere. If you like horror stories at all, grab this book up.