It’s a belated Halloween edition of Singles Going Steady, specifically to look at a couple of ghoulish releases from Image. It’s pretty serendipitous that Halloween fell on a Wednesday this year – and during the dreaded FIFTH WEEK. The void normally found on such an occasion was pleasantly full of tricks and treats courtesy of a fantastic anthology series (for now) and a one-shot of a beloved title from all-star creators.
Ice Cream Man #8 (Image Comics)
(w) W. Maxwell Prince (a) Martin Morazzo (c) Chris O’Halloran
One of the best things about Ice Cream Man is that each issue stands alone. Readers can just jump in and get a great, done-in-one horror story. It’s why I’m approaching January’s issue #9 with trepidation, as it will being a multi-issue story. It’s also why the release of this issue, which hit shelves on Halloween, is perfect for lapsed readers, faithful subscribers, and the completely uninitiated. Not only does it provide skin-crawling visuals, but several glimpses as to how the world can be a truly messed up place if things go just a little wrong.
Characters in Ice Cream Man #8 are neither sympathetic nor likable. Normally, that’s a bad sign for any horror related work, as empathy from the audience to certain characters is what typically adds stakes to the story and makes the scares more visceral. However, the true horrors of this issue come from the characters themselves. W. Maxwell Prince’s story jumps from one horrifying tale to the next, threaded together by a duo of degenerate ambulance drivers. The voice he gives to each character is unique, implying that each one has an actual history rather than being caricatures whose sole purpose is to pad out the story.
The art from Martin Morazzo and Chris O’Halloran is arguably the best of the series. While consistent with the previous 7 issues, the variety of mayhem in Prince’s script enables the art team to embrace the darkest corners of their creativity. Each death (and this issue racks up quite the body count) is more horrifying than the last. Further, there are other images peppered in throughout that simultaneously terrify and mesmerize the reader. Ice Cream Man #8 disgusts in the best ways possible, reaching its crescendo in its final pages.
Wytches: Bad Egg Special (Image Comics)
(w) Scott Snyder (a) Jock (c) Matthew Hollingsworth
Though he’s probably best known these days for his Batman and Justice League work, Scott Snyder has proven to be an adept horror writer. His past collaboration with Jock and Matt Hollingsworth – Wytches – was quickly beloved by readers, which has made the past 3 years an unbearable wait for those looking forward to issue #7. And while they may still have to wait a bit longer, Wytches: Bad Egg is more than enough to satiate readers for the time being.
Snyder and Jock are in lock step throughout Bad Egg. Though a separate story from the one seen in the main series, the creators have assured readers that this will eventually connect when the second arc of the series begins in 2019. To be honest, that doesn’t even matter. Taken on its own, Wytches: Bad Egg is tightly plotted, well drawn, and disturbing. The script is littered with plot twists that make for an engaging reading experience, while Jock’s angular visuals frequently intensifies from 0 to 10, constantly keeping readers at the edge of their seat.
One of the more controversial elements of Wytches was the coloring by Matt Hollingsworth. Some loved it, some hated it. Because of the splatter technique used, it made panels difficult to read. Though this was intentional as an attempt to distort the visuals and add an overall sense of uneasiness to the book, it was also seen as distracting. The same technique is brought back here, and aside from a panel or two, Hollingsworth’s skill with this technique has improved greatly.
Overall, Wytches: Bad Egg is well worth picking up – especially if you’re looking for a scare. All of the hallmarks from the main series are found here, but one-shot format (actually, it was originally published over the course of several issues of Image+) forces the creators to go all in on this singular story, and they do not disappoint.