Mitch is a single Dad raising his daughter in an unsettling, dangerous world. He’s doing his best, but is it enough? When he starts reading his daughter’s journal, he realises just how fast Jen is growing up. Can he find a way to connect with her in a way that protects her and gives her agency? Should he? Find out in your Major Spoilers review of Ice Cream Man #16 from Image Comics!
Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martín Morazzo
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Good Old Neon
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: November 20th, 2019
Previously in Ice Cream Man: You’re trapped in a comic. The panel borders are your prison bars, trapping you as the pages flip and flip and flip and flip. You leap from a building, narrating your demise as you plummet towards the ground. You’re a space traveller, intent on plumbing the darkest corners of a galaxy gone mad. You’re a dying man in the back of an ambulance, as the neighbourhood around you goes to hell in a handbasket. You’re a malign, immortal entity, an escapee from a dead universe, doling out malice in the shape of an ice cream cone…
Ice Cream Man #16 opens with Mitch, a single dad, doing his best to raise his seventeen-year-old daughter, Jen. It’s tough, watching her grow up, allowing her the space to do so while trying to work out how to set boundaries. Heck, what are the boundaries, even? When Mitch finds Jen’s journal sitting on her desk while cleaning her room, he bumps up against one of those boundaries, then, after a moment’s hesitation, leaps over the boundary and starts reading.
What he finds shouldn’t surprise most parents of teenage kids. The usual meditations on friends and school and love. Jen is clearly keen on a boy, indeed, on lots of boys, as it turns out. Much to Mitch’s increasing surprise and horror. As he asks his single dad’s support group, how is he meant to address his concerns with his daughter? Just by talking, says the counsellor. We’ll see how that turns out.
Of course, Jen is much more than she seems. Her issues with the world are less to do with going out with boys, but what she does with them afterwards, which the reader should discover for themselves. However, Mitch’s constant questioning about whether he is a good enough father for his daughter and what he should do to prove it is emphatically answered in the closing pages of Ice Cream Man #16.
As always, Martín Morazzo’s art ably assists in creating the unnerving atmosphere that suffuses this issue. It is littered with little in-jokes that indicate to the reader that not only they, but the characters, are firmly in the grip of the Ice Cream Man. Graffiti appears that mimics the diatribes Mitch hears on the television. The cinema chain acronym that appears in the issue, ICM, indicates to all of us that no aspect of this world is free of the Ice Cream Man’s thrall. Indeed, the cover, which shows our titular monster moving doll-like figures around a suburban streetscape, indicates the guiding hand he has over the lives of everyone in this issue. If Jen doesn’t get you, he surely will.
BOTTOM LINE: NERVE SHREDDING
Anticipation is half the fun of horror, but Ice Cream Man #16 deliberately fails to deliver the pay off. Instead, the reader is subjected to ever further horrors as page after page; Prince wages a war against our nerves and sanity. You could never describe Ice Cream Man #16 as a fun read, but it is, in the end, an oddly affecting experience. Recommended.
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Ice Cream Man #16
All Mitch wants to do is be the best dad he can for his daughter. But events, in the shape of his lethally beautiful child, intrude again and again. With the Ice Cream Man looming ominously on every page, it is only a matter of time before Mitch’s carefully constructed world begins to fall apart.