Ice Cream Man: Watch As It All Recedes (#18) – W. Maxwell Prince

5 out of 5

This is a very straight forward, but precise, and haunting issue.  It tellingly doesn’t seem to directly feature ICM in any of his usual “cameos,” rather appearing (maybe) as a green-eyed monster that haunts the fading memories of a bed-ridden old man, flashing back to good times and bad times as his son and daughter visit him in hospital.  There’s nothing especially showy in the construction, but that’s part of what ends up making it so affecting: it’s all straight on shots, with the man’s loss of awareness as he slips away over the course of the issue – literally on his death bed – represented by fumbled words, and then frighteningly, the monster, a gremlin, appearing in his vague memories and touching pieces of them, causing them to disappear.  The man cycles through happy thoughts, and they are sucked away, leaving him only the bad ones – a crumbled marriage; mistakes passed down to his children.

And yet, when he’s left with nothing, there’s a damning sense of the joy of unknowing: he remembers nothing except existing, and that makes him happy.

Chris O’Halloran’s colors are utterly gorgeous, just subtly off, subtly sickly, and Prince controls the narrative like a pro, keeping the character and theme front and center without OD’ing on the concept.

I’ve groused about the lack of narrative in ICM, but then these one-off issues prove to still pack an incredible wallop.