Adding to their anthological saga, W. Maxwell Prince, Martin Morazzo, Chris O’Halloran, and Good Old Neon show masterful comics craft once again in the seventh volume of Ice Cream Man. Despite being waste deep into the series (this volume collecting issues 25-28), the team continues to find new, creative ways to tell a story.
Subtitled Certain Descents, the book explores the many ways that people fall. Whether that be fatal or emotional, these explorations offer more of the Ice Cream Man’s unique combination of humor, horror, and sentimentality. Thanks to the episodic nature of the comic, new readers can easily jump into the madness, but long-time fans will be rewarded through references to previous issues.
Prince continues to demonstrate his brilliant ability to take a concept and dive into it holistically. The first chapter in this volume, which is also the volume’s subtitle, follows the passengers of a crashing plane and the many people who witness its doomed descent.
Each witness is falling in some way, good or bad. One couple is taking their “last” hit of a drug before insisting they will go clean, another woman escaping Mexico begins to go into labor, and the pilots of the plane have their unique dilemmas.
This trend continues in other stories, whether it be the vocabulary test that is The Etymologist Rises or the Kafka-inspired The Morphometasis. Each takes their central idea and examines them until all stones are turned.
This sense of completeness would be nothing without brilliant artistic choices. The stories are textually and visually consistent, giving the theme even more meaning and context. Unfortunate Ancestry forces the reader to turn the book 90 degrees and watch a man descend his family tree to find answers to his plights, while The Etymologist Rises and Certain Descents feature creative panel layouts to depict either rising or falling on each page.
Morazzo demonstrates his prowess most in The Morphometasis, where he has to construct the many stages of a cockroach turning into a man. He masterfully poses the man, named Grg or Greg, after his transformation to demonstrate how he still makes bug-like gestures in a human body, adding tiny details to an already dense story.
O’Halloran excellently colors the book and directs the eye through the unique panel configurations, but most shines in The Etymologist Rises through his gorgeous rainbow flowers, which immediately feel mystical. Lastly, Good Old Neon assists in the falling feeling of each story through their skillfully placed balloons and ensuring the reader knows which order to read Maxwell’s narration and dialogue right away.
Despite experimentation being the norm for Ice Cream Man, this seventh volume still feels fresh and shows the endless possibilities of a comic. For anyone looking to jump into the series, this would be a great start.