“I.C.E.” is an action comic book about the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. It has guns, it has crime, and it has a wide ensemble cast. People throw around the label for comics that it’s ‘TV good’ (and for me that personifies the shows like “Hawaii Five-O” or other procedurals that are enjoyable but not stellar) and this comic seems to epitomize that description. It’s the sort of story you can switch off on and enjoy, but it won’t enlighten you on any level.
People will read trashy novels, and watch pithy shows, but when it comes to comics most expect a certain level of quality. If that level is not met, people might still buy it (especially if there’s spandex involved) but they won’t write it off as a guilty pleasure, they will instead trash it to high heaven. “I.C.E.” floats just above that fine line, but only just. The action is good old fashioned fun and the character voices clash with just the right amount of bravado and angst to make it all good fun.
The first half of the issue is a showcase for how cool this team is. Names are used plentifully to introduce us all, and each member of the squad gets a chance to show off their skills. It’s a standard action opening and it doesn’t fail on many fronts, but it doesn’t transcend the genre at any step. The second half sets up the big case they’ll be working. This could be the pilot episode of a new show and you’d sit through it while thinking of other things. You’d enjoy it and walk away without complaint, but without any introspection either.
The narrative flow from Jose Holder is sound throughout. He paces a page like it’s a scene on television and so the variety of shots and aspects is dynamic. Holder takes the time to establish a scene and highlight little details, rather than just delivering the standard two-shots many comics languish in. His figures might be inconsistent at times, but he makes up for that in his application of storytelling. The art is a highlight and makes this book feel more like a decent crime comic rather than a standard procedural.
“I.C.E.” is a debut that certainly delivers for only one dollar. It’s a fast paced ride but through familiar territory. The snappy dialogue between the ensemble, and the hint of more beneath, might be enough to get this comic past the post. The ‘aw crap’ moment at the end certainly gives enough reason to want to come back. The back up tale adds an extra element of more character than narrative so the balance might just be met. Pick up “I.C.E.” if you’re after a slick slice of shoot-em-up diplomacy.