Ice Cream Man vol. 2: Strange Neopolitan (#5 – 8) – W. Maxwell Prince

4 out of 5

My strange goodness.

Mr. Maxwell Prince has again given us four issues of premiere horror; some of the most truly haunting stuff – just on the fringes of sense; just on the fringes of surreality – accompanied by an excellent balance of grody gore and disorienting oddity from artist Martín Morazzo.  It is, again, maybe a little too open-ended to shape up into a proper “arc” – even its connecting elements via certain characters and ideas feels a little loosey-goosey, in search of scary over story – and, more critically, Prince still has a habit of countering this vagueness with something suddenly way too on-the-nose, but neither of these snipes unseat the very strong confidence and intelligence guiding the work, nor do they dismantle that horror tag.  I’d stress that so few books actually manage to be disconcerting, but Prince’s tale of (maybe) two demons fussing about with humanity via an ice cream man persona – directly interacting with us and our dreams and nightmares – and a man in black – seemingly more of an agent of chaos – combines its sing-song narrator(s) with Morazzo’s dizzying but precise layouts, Chris O’Halloran’s just-off coloring, and Good Old Neon’s familiar and terse lettering to continually unsettle us issue to issue.

This second set of books has the man in black coming to town while the ice cream man wreaks more intense havoc and our occasional narrator starts pushing us on Prince’s favorite concept: the intersection of reality and story.

Look for the titular tale – from issue #6 – featuring a narrative which splits three ways a la the ice cream flavor to garner much deserved attention.

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