Ice Cream Man: Cape Fear (#17) – W. Maxwell Prince

4 out of 5

Only in the never-ending blossoming of new nightmares that is W. Maxwell Prince’s and Martín Morazzo’s Ice Cream Man could we find a “tribute” to Superman that casts the hero as not that, positing his opposite – “Cal Canter” – as the voice of reason, dusting the framing of the story with some gender commentary and questioning of the framing of, in general, comics as fiction-stuffed saviors of boredom, and then titling the story after a film (1962s or ’91s, I guess, take your pick – or maybe the fact that it was remade once is relevant) concerning guilt and past crimes of relative moralities…

Geez, I dunno.  As usual with Ice Cream Man, this book is just loaded with stuff to read in to, and then also partially distracted by the same: our narrative is done by a Lois Lane-proxy, female reporter, who is essentially said to be limited by a (gender-based) glass ceiling which is only shattered by the ultra buff “Ice Cream Man,” flying through the air in panels “after All-Star Superman by Morrison and Quitely. (Both lovingly and not…),” as described in the indicia section.  But the focus on said reporter (Parker Paige) gets a little lost beneath the All-Star riffs Prince keeps throwing in there – a “tribute” which, on its own, is also fascinating as heck, given that Morrison has seemed to be a main inspiration for the writer, with Quitely a clear stylistic influence on Halloran – and which is also complicated by how this meta-layers into both ICM’s loose story of exploring ways to torture its various character and Prince’s thoughts on / challenges of the limitations – the glass ceilings? – of comic books.

On the one hand, given how this issue is allowed to be more structurally “typical,” it’s not as oblique as some ICMs have been, but the one-and-done nature of most of these also requires a sort of winky dodge at the end.  I’m essentially complaining that there’s too much going on here, but, by Christ, if only all comics had that problem, and looked this good while being that problematic.