Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Art: Martin Morazzo
Colors: Chris O’Halloran
Letters: Good Old Neon
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: October 25th, 2023
At the heart of Ice Cream Man #37 are themes of suicide and loss, all wrapped in a story featuring tiny fantasy creatures called Figglybumps who are a cross between Smurfs and Wookies waging war with giant robots. No, I haven’t been smoking high-grade weed, that’s what the story’s about, and as usual, beneath the surface of this borderline-loony story, there’s a thought-provoking center to it that will touch your heart and mind.
Two stories run concurrently in Ice Cream Man #37. The Figglybumps’ story is the “A” story or main focus of the issue, their war against the giant robots (which they call “bob-bots”) symbolic for the Vietnam War and every other war where countless innocent lives are needlessly lost. The Figglybumps talk in a bizarre cutesy manner, with characters named General Bubblystraw and Gigglywinks, but their world seems to be going through a never-ending war with the bob-bots. It’s a very bizarre read as the overly cute world has dark elements of the real world creeping in. Their tale is like a cartoon version of “Platoon” and as it goes on, it gets darker and darker.
The “B” story involves the brother and sister of Brian, the man who created the fantasy world of the Figglybumps and has committed suicide. His brother and sister load up all the things he acquired throughout his life and argue over the “selfishness” of suicide. It’s a genuinely touching story as the two struggle to resolve their feelings for Brian and his suicide in their own way. The “A” and “B” stories complement each other, both dealing with death and the after effects of it in a way only this series can do, with a perfect combination of the humorous and the tragic.
This series, as well as W. Maxwell Prince’s other series Swan Songs, are incredibly refreshing because each issue is a self-contained story with a complete beginning, middle and ending, and that’s much needed in an industry filled with year-long sagas and multi-part epics that run over dozens of issues. I hope Ice Cream Man and Swan Songs both continue for a long time to come.
Martin Morazzo’s art on Ice Cream Man #37 deftly handles both the dark cutesiness of the Figglybumps’ story and the family drama happening in the real world. The Figglybumps’ story looks and feels like a Dr. Seuss book and the art for this section has a foreboding feeling to it. For the section that takes place in the real world, the emotions of the brother and sister are conveyed wonderfully through the art, making this part of the tale very moving.
Like the classic Twilight Zone series, the Ice Cream Man series always delivers thought-provoking stories, at times having expertly crafted twist endings. At other times (like with Ice Cream Man #37), the stories are character studies with a hint of the bizarre and terrifying. This issue is another great tale in a series filled with fantastic stories. Recommended.