Some families are completely sideways…  Your Major Spoilers review of Ice Cream Man #26 from DC Comics awaits!

ICE CREAM MAN #26

Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Good Old Neon
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: October 27, 2021

Previously in Ice Cream Man:  Sometimes, writing the “What Has Gone Before” section is difficult, but it’s never more so than with a book like this.  The basic gist is that there’s this dark force in the universe that manifests itself as a seemingly innocent purveyor of sweets, but is in fact a multi-limbed monstrosity of cosmic unpleasantness.  Whether that’s garden-variety body horror, existential angst, fear of the abyss, or just plain ol’ nightmares varies.

So what’ll it be this time?

UNFORTUNATE ANCESTRY

Ice Cream Man #26 begins with Michael, who is investigating his family tree.  (Since this is Ice Cream Man, we’re seeing an actual tree.)  He has successfully traced his lineage back three generations, to the first Arvek to come to the United States in search of bounty.  Sadly, that great-grandfather also shares Michael’s dedication to opiates, though in pipe form in a seedy den rather than over-the-counter.  Worse still, his one skill, calligraphy, was supplanted by the printing press.  Michael’s grandmother, Mary Ellen was likewise an addict, though her vice was whiskey, which led to her death by childbirth.  Michael’s dad was a Vietnam-era hippie who loved his LSD, whose hallucinations included the delusion that “the world is haunted by a man in an ice cream truck.”  As he works he way down the tree, Michael slips and falls, crashing to the ground… Or rather, through the ground into the very roots of his family history.

“TO BREAKING THE CYCLE!”

Ice Cream Man #26 reminded me greatly of issue #18, a terrifying story of a man’s battle with Alzheimer’s, and I actually had to check to make sure that this wasn’t the same family.  (I’m pretty sure that it isn’t.)  But the appearance of the terrible goblin from that issue, the creature who stole George’s memories, is a chilling reminder of that story and its entirely too real horror.  The ending of this issue is likewise full of entirely understandable fear, as Michael wonders if he can overcome his genetic predispositions and be a decent father, or whether he’s doomed to destroy his hypothetical child’s life as well.  The visuals of this issue are extra-special, in that the issue must be rotated ninety degrees and read horizontally, and Morazzo once again delivers.  There are a number of side-moments (like a bird caught in the web of a HUGE spider) that are amusing, but the emotions of Michael and his late family members are perfectly “acted” under his subtle pencils.

BOTTOM LINE: A SURPRISINGLY UPLIFTING ENDING

Best of all, in my eyes, is the ending of Ice Cream Man #26, a moment that takes the accumulated moments of the story and the recurring questions about identity, genetics, and reality, and somehow still ends on a high note, followed by a reminder to rotate the book back before closing it, combining for a dead-solid 5 out of 5 stars overall.  During the scary season of October, it’s doubly important that we engage with the process of telling scary stories around metaphorical camp fires, but it takes a really skilled creator to do so and still make the experience weirdly inspiring at the same time.

If you’re not reading Ice Cream Man, my friends, you’re missing out.


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ICE CREAM MAN #26

100%
100%
Disturbing But Warm?

Sometimes the worst horrors are the mundane, human moments of terror, and this comic perfects encapsulates that.

  • Writing
    10
  • Art
    10
  • Coloring
    10
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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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