What’s the craziest thing you ever heard? Your Major Spoilers review of Ice Cream Man #34 from Image Comics awaits!
ICE CREAM MAN #34
Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Good Old Neon
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: February 22, 2023
Previously in Ice Cream Man: The Ice Cream Man is Riccardus, but what Riccardus is, is not clear. He seems to be everywhere, he can do nearly anything, and everything wrong with the world is his great delight. Whether you’re heart-broken, sick, or just plain tired, he’s got a flavor for you, and they’re probably all full of bugs.
AN ETERNAL, PHILOSOPHICAL BATTLE
We join two itinerant men living a life on the road, Cranky Ol’ Phil and Mac as they hop the next train to… well, wherever the train’s going. Our duo has a system, you see: Never spend more than a week in one location, never get involved in anything heavy, never use weapons, and never get involved in violence. That all goes by the wayside as they make their way through New Mexico, encountering another man by the name of Vicious Vin, who has a plan of his own… and a gun. Their week in Santa Fe leads to more food than usual, and Vin suggests that they get a little money by knocking over a local convenience store. It’s a mistake, and breaking their cardinal rule leaves Phil badly wounded and Mac traumatized by the experience. But as the train heads west, a story that Phil once heard becomes more important than ever.
ARE WE NEARING THE END?
The most shocking part of this issue is seeing an ending that seems like it might almost be a happy one, with Mac encountering the mysterious cowboy named Caleb, The Ice Cream Man’s counterpart. There are a lot of important, subtle moments in this issue’s dialogue, starting with a discussion of “the craziest thing you’ve ever seen,” featuring what may be the first and only literary use of Chekhov’s Dracula. Riccardus the Ice Cream Man appears in the margins of the story, as is his custom, but somehow things feel like Prince and Morazzo may be building to something more, especially when you consider Vicious Vin’s telling of the craziest story he’s ever heard. Morazzo’s art in this book is superb and unique, conveying the grit and dirt and general dyspepsia of life on the road without any guarantees. Mac and Phil look and feel like they’ve been on the road for months, but never lose their humanity or dignity. When Mac is forced into fighting, it’s a moment of desperation, but also a little bit of triumph that’s out of the ordinary for Ice Cream Man protagonists.
BOTTOM LINE: A REALLY GOOD STORY
All in all, though, Ice Cream Man #34 may not be a palindrome, a crossword puzzle, or a mystery, but it is a clever, well-drawn, and entertaining issue of comics, with the majesty of Cranky Old Phil putting it all over the top for a dead-solid 5 out of 5 stars overall. I never cease to be impressed with the emotions that Prince, Morazzo, and company can create in a few well-done pages, and I hope I never do.
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ICE CREAM MAN #34
Story and art combine for an experience that engrossed me on every page. Even though I'm very glad it's not real, it felt like it was.