Ice Cream Man: Unfortunate Ancestry (#26) – W. Maxwell Prince

4 out of 5

A fun issue, still feeling like Prince might be trying to wrap things up in some fittingly, hauntingly oblique fashion.

Unfortunate Ancestry instructs us to turn the book sideways, and we then follow our narrator as he climbs (visually) down his family tree, noting how he’s been screwed from as far back as he can track – historical obsessives and failures and drunkards, surely leading to his current state as a depressed pill-popper. Along the way, Martin Morazzo gives us plenty of ICM cameos, and Chris O’Halloran helps along the metaphor of descent (and gives the story a further sense of momentum) by dimming the sunlight as we proceed closer to the ground.

But as our narrator falls for a crash landing, Prince unleashes his twist: an interestingly hopeful realization from our pill-popper that his fate is actually his own – that his ancestors were just people, same as him. This is a common enough idea, but the whole delivery of the story gives it ample impact, and there’s that drifting note of dread familiar to ICM that makes the conclusion feel like it’s made on (ironically) shaky ground.

I guess that’s also where the issue feels rather slight, though – like I can’t tell if this was just a visual spin for a one-shot, or if Prince will evolve on this note of hope, or if, again, we’re actually approaching an ending, and so the writer is trying to pack up some summary statements. That kind of meta works with the series – confusion if we’re standing still or moving forward – but that will likely be better served when rereading this, or looking back at a completed work.