ICE #3 (of 4)
Writer: Doug Wagner
Artist: Jose Holder
Cover: Brian Stelfreeze
Colors: Michael Wiggam
Letters: Ed Dukshire
12-Gauge Comics | $3.99
Following issue #2’s stunning conclusion, the worm has turned and the ICE team is under attack! Luis Morales and his cartel are now on the offensive—taking the battle directly to Cole Matai and his elite tactical team while they are off-duty and alone. Unfortunately, this bold move by Morales will cost an ICE agent his life, causing Cole to take justice into his own hands—or die trying.
I love it when a comic book kicks off with a bang. ICE #3 from 12-Gauge Comics does just that. Literally. There’s an explosion in panel two.
We join the action in medias res as Cole Matai and his team, consisting of ICE operatives Alli and Benno, find out the fate of their friend, Ezra. From there it gets personal and we see just how far Cole will go to have his revenge on gangster Luis Morales. With his rogue team in tow, they take matters into their own hands and head for Mexico.
Doug Wagner knows his characters and they each have a distinct voice which makes it a pleasure to bounce between scenes. Cole is all business yet passionate, Alli serves as a voice of reason for the team, and Benno, though quiet, provides comedic relief at just the right moments. The story is straightforward enough and easy to follow. Exposition to catch the reader up on what’s happening is handled through a press conference, though it comes a bit late into the issue. As a high point: You haven’t lived until you’ve watched a dangerous home invasion juxtaposed with an innocent Martha Stewart-esque TV show on in the background.
Jose Holder’s art fits perfectly with the vibe of the book. Cole is a grizzled, hard-boiled character and seeing him climb from the wreckage of a house on page two tells us everything we need to know about him. He handles the action sequences amazingly well — they’re full of life and keep the eyes racing to the next panel at a pulse-pounding rate, but any talking head scenes start to falter when the character’s expressions remain static from panel to panel. Early on in the issue there’s a fantastic splash page of a car bomb going off that I wouldn’t hesitate to hang on my wall.
Letters are handled by Ed Dukeshire who does a great job of keeping things moving along, but I would have liked to see more of his sound effects work. Most action scenes run silent and some visual SFX may have kicked them up to the next level, really bringing the reader into the ICE world. Colors by Michael Wiggam are the glue that holds the book together. His palette choices are perfect and from page one, the tone is set. The double page spread is a turning point in the book, and while drawn very well, it’s the color that causes the scene to hit the reader right where it needs to, emotionally. Wiggam appears to be a lot of detail and love put into this book and the final page of the main story sets the tone for the issues to come.
Overall, ICE #3 will please the action fan and as we cross the Mexican border toward the story’s conclusion in the next issue, you can bet we’ll see some loose ends tied up and some more things exploding… and I’m super excited for that.
Wes Locher is both a lover and writer of comic books. He also appreciates a great cup of coffee. weslocher.com