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ICE #1 – Review

  ICE #1 is worth the dollar it costs, despite its many flaws. Most characters either are shallow or lack dimension in their characterization, and the small doses of comedy attempting to weave themselves into the plot fail to make me chuckle in any way. Instead, it leads to me shamefully facepalming for them. The art also does nothing to enhance the appeal of the comic. The decent element of this issue that makes it surprisingly enjoyable is the story. The issue's first story revolves around a special group of officers - the Immigration & Enforcement agency (ICE for short), on a mission to protect people and led by Cole Matai.. A murderous rampage leads to the death of an undercover cop, which forces the team into action against a Mexican drug cartel to stop the killer. 12 Gauge Comics: ICE #1 Cover by Brian StelfreezeEven with so many bad elements in ICE, the storyline manages to make up for them and gets you to enjoy the issue. Doug Wagner puts a surprising amount of thought into it and gives you a bang for your buck. The plot is reminiscent of a more grotesquely descriptive episode of CSI. From the cover's explosion, you would assume the issue is non-stop action, which it luckily isn't, to the chagrin of only die-hard action buffs. The first couple of pages give us some clunky and cluttered action with too many characters to count. If the rest of the issue continued in that way it would be unreadable, but luckily the story developed and became interesting and compelling. It's just ironic that a comic published by a company called 12-Gauge Comics and has a shot-up target also has terrible gunplay and good storytelling. The problems start with the huge roster of characters that are impossible to keep up with in the opening action scene. Most of these characters are glazed over and are not even given names. Any attempts at giving them depth result in slightly vulgar jokes, like one member naming his gun after his old boss that he supposedly had sex with, and another throwing up at the sight of dead bodies making the others question his masculinity – a joke that lasted way too long. There is one exception to the lack of depth: Wagner showcases his well-written and yet still simple characterization skills in a one page exchange of dialogue between two teammates. A younger female member expresses quickly and efficiently her goal: to have Cole Matai's position. The following argument between the two not only shows her educated but inexperienced nature, but also gives some insight to us about Cole, without the reader even having to see him. This characterization is quick, if not too subtle, and appropriate for a first issue. Jose Holder's art does nothing for this issue. Sometimes the characters are oddly proportioned, though most of the time, the art is not good or bad, just average, giving no stand-out style to the issue. Michael Wiggam's colors sometimes give the issue a cool, but not quite tone-matching, punk look with a mixture of warm and cold colors. The first story is strong with some good and bad characterization, bad humor and mediocre artwork. The second story is a simple origin story of Matai but goes by way too quickly, establishing little. The different guest artist, Brian Stelfreeze, draws artwork eerily similar to Holder with only a slight change in the form of an assortment of pretty colors. The second tries to make the reader begin to sympathize with Matai, but the attempt does not seem wholehearted and needs to be finished before the tactic can truly be judged. The only outright bad dialogue in the story is the usage of the title, "Tin Can," thrown with no subtlety at the end of the story as if to say "see, this is why our title makes sense?" With a little more subtlety, weaving the title in could have been clever. The issue is enjoyable thanks to the plot, but still remains flawed. ICE needs to make major improvements made in the next issue before anyone will shell out four bucks for it. Right now, if you want a comic and have to watch what you spend, pick this up for its story.


Meet the Author

About / Bio
An all-around nerdette, I’m a comic book connoisseur, horror aficionado, video game addict, anime enthusiast and an aspiring novelist/comic book writer. I am the head of the comic book department and the editor-in-chief of Entertainment Fuse. I also write and edit articles for Comic Frontline. I am also an intern at Action Lab Entertainment, a comic book publisher at which I edit comic book scripts, help work on images in solicitations and help with other comic book related project. My own personal website is comicmaven.com.

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