Lillian is wearing someone else’s coat… Your Major Spoilers review of Ice Cream Man #15 awaits!
Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Good Old Neon
Editor: Drew Gill
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 9, 2019
Previously in Ice Cream Man: Chocolate, vanilla, existential horror, drug addiction, musical fantasy… there’s a flavor for everyone’s misery.
Fair warning: Even by ‘Ice Cream Man’ standards, this one is a toughie. We start out meeting a young woman named Lily, who is currently in a sanatorium of sorts after a break from reality. We flashback to a few days earlier, with an unsuccessful date that ends with her being offered the wrong coat when she leaves the restaurant, by a very familiar looking coat-check man. (The tag inside reads “ICM” which is subtle in presentation, but a hammer-blow to the temple once you catch it.) Things immediately get weird, as a young boy with a balloon points out that there’s a finger in her pocket, leading to a series of terrible hallucinations for our Lily. We also discover that her family has a history of mental illness, and she is currently primary caregiver for her mother, who shocks her by mentioning that the boy is part of mom’s delusions.
Things get very unpleasant from there.
AN UPDATED, MEAN-SPIRITED ‘OUTER LIMITS’
This has always been a book that hasn’t shied away from black humor, terrible fates for everyone and grisly visual detail, but Lily’s dilemma is one of the crueler ones they’ve presented. Not only does it tap into a far-too-real worry about inheriting mental illness, it leaves both our protagonist and her mother not only divorced from reality but in terrible straits that make it clear that their endings won’t be happy, but will be soon. I’ve been enjoying this book (especially the previous two episodes, on in using a crossword as a story hook and the other told in palindrome) but the cruelty of Prince’s script feels much more personal this time around, and thus a bit less enjoyable. The art is, as always, a hallucinatory nightmare, especially a moment where LIly meets endless duplicates of herself, all wearing the same black coat and all sharing the same half-beatific/half-terrified face. The usual tendency for seemingly beautiful scenes to have hidden terrors (like a field of lovely flowers teeming with a hellish variety of creepy-crawlies) is evident here, but the subtle use of color stands out in this issue. Each alt-Lily has a slightly different hair color, and hallunications have a subtle purple-shift in tone that is immediately unnerving, even if you’re not sure if it’s a hallucination or not.
BOTTOM LINE: NOT FOR EVERYONE, BUT DEFINITELY FOR ME
I’ve never been comfortable recommending this comic, but as someone who grew up on a diet of ‘The Twilight Zone’, ‘Tales From The Crypt’ and DC’s short-lived ‘Wasteland’, it appeals to me on a visceral level. There are objectionable moments in every issue and this issue’s theme may be upsetting on a more real-world level than previous, but Ice Cream Man #15 is a successful story for the right audiences with detailed art that enhances the scary, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.
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ICE CREAM MAN #15
Prince and Morazzo craft another one-shot that combines existential angst and the uncanny, and while it's not an easy read by any means, it's still a good one.