Based on the previous issues of this sterling anthology series, I’m steeling myself to be utterly creeped out.  Your Major Spoilers review of Ice Cream Man #7 awaits!

ICE CREAM MAN #7

Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Good Old Neon
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: September 19, 2018

Previously in Ice Cream Man: There is a man with an ice cream truck.  Where he goes, terrible things tend to happen (and, in at least one case, not happen.)  This time around, a girl finds that her friend has returned from the dead…  or does she?

I’M LITERALLY SCARED TO READ THIS BOOK

After the last few issues of Ice Cream Man, I view each new installment with a sense of dread, especially after the silent-yet-horrifying events of issue #6.  This time around, we meet nine-year-old Lucy, whose best friend Kayla just died of a particularly aggressive cancer.  Her parents are concerned not only about her loss, but about the fact that Lucy seems to believe that Kayla is still around, constantly talking to and playing with her “ghost” friend.  A visit to the psychologist doesn’t shed much light on things either, and the family has a terrible blowup fight one night over dinner.  Lucy is awakened that night by Kayla, perhaps, who leads her out on an adventure into the woods (which in her sketchbook is “The Forest of the Cutesy-Fuzzies”, but in real life is filled with mangy wild dogs) til she finds The Ice Cream Man’s cabin and poor, doomed Jimbo from issue #2.  Before he can hurt Lucy, though, the mysterious cowboy arrives and confronts him, calling him Riccardus, and letting the girl free.  We find that the cowboy’s name is Caleb, but the last few pages of Ice Cream Man #7 follows Lucy home to her grateful parents, where she comes to the terms with the loss of her friend and the creators give us a really touching last page.

PERHAPS A LITTLE BIT RUSHED THIS TIME AROUND

After #5 and #6 put out such a strong showing, this issue’s story feels like it could have used a little more room to breathe.  Perhaps it’s the fact that we’re starting to find out things about Caleb and “Rick” or the fact that Lucy’s story hit so many strong notes, but I wanted three or four more pages of story.  That said, the visuals in this story range from vaguely unsettling to utterly horrifying (don’t ask about the potato peeler, just…  just don’t) and once again are effective in creating a sense of unease even in pages that don’t have any disturbing visual content.  Morazzo’s facial expressions are really well-done on every page, including Lucy’s bright-and-cheery face as she utterly refuses to accept mortality as a concept.  There’s a mean-spiritedness to the main character and his activities that still manages to tell a story that is sweet and emotionally rich (and doesn’t murder the child, which is worth the price of admission.)

BOTTOM LINE: A NIGHTMARE AND THAT’S NOT BAD

Once again, this series manages to both surprise and horrify me, delivering the chills without crossing the line into vulgar, overly murdery bad stuff (I’m lookin’ at you, ‘Crossed.’)  Ice Cream Man #7 is by turns scary and touching, sweet and awful, with art that you could call “pretty” if it weren’t showing you things that make ya want to bleach your entire brain, and even with my niggling plot concerns still nets 4 out of 5 stars together.  I’m torn between wanting more of the anthology that has made this book fascinating and demanding more of the mythos at the core of it all.

[taq_review]

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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