Review - I.C.E. #1

So Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (or I.C.E.). What do I think about this comic?

I.C.E. comes in as a pretty solid, hard-boiled action/gritty crime story title that isn’t a bad read. The art is this nice blend of dark realism and over-the-top comic book look that makes the comic ‘flow’ fast from panel to panel and easy to read. Written by Doug Wagner and illustrated by Jose Holder and Brian Stelfreeze (Michael Wiggam on colors) the book is currently available for only $1.

I guess what strikes me most about the comic is just the IDEA. Pop culture tends to take off in spurts- whether it’s Dungeons and Dragons, a bunch of Star Trek shows or even four or five different versions of Law and Order all over TV at every hour of the day. Crime shows are big right now- and the whole variety is out there. Criminal Minds, Burn Notice, CSI. Take your pick.

I.C.E. reads exactly LIKE what you’d expect from any other action comic of this type. It draws from that genre of TV but blends it with Die Hard action movie style comic book-ness. But I guess the most interesting part of the comic is the context; exactly what I wrote at the beginning of this review.

In all seriousness, this is a politically loaded book! So far it seems to tread carefully and not ‘push’ any part of the issues surrounding the kind of culture clash/integration that’s been going on in Mexico and the US for years. But obviously there’s the potential for I.C.E. to really delve into some pertinent and meaningful material here.

I mean I know this is the strangest thing ever said about an action comic, especially one with a cover like the one I.C.E. has. There’s some potential here for I.C.E. to be one of the most culturally sensitive comics produced today. Okay okay wait. Maybe ‘sensitive’ is a strong word. But it could at least be culturally meaningful.

I think I.C.E. could evolve into a really great comic if it really sank it’s teeth into some of this stuff- issues related to identity and culture and the blending of Mexican and American citizenship and ideas. How easily the war on drugs has this way of becoming a war against immigration which isn’t really fair. But when pounds of cocaine are getting smuggled across the border what are you supposed to do but make it harder to cross it? You know- stuff like that?

The Wire (as I’m sure everyone knows) was incredible at this. What’s great about The Wire is that it doesn’t really say anything is right or wrong about what happens. It’s just kind of ‘accurate’, you know? It just shows you how complex the relationship between law enforcement and drug trafficking really is. And it's NOT as simple as ‘the cops are the good guys’ and the ‘drug dealers are the bad guys’.

The grim reality is that these two lives are far more intertwined and interconnected than most people realize. And there are no easy answers about what’s right for the greater good of everyone. And I think I.C.E. could go there on a good day. So FAR, however, all I see the writers doing is making I.C.E. ‘cool’.

There’s a cool team and witty banter. I’m not criticizing it because I think the writers and artists need to draw a crowd of comic-book lovers in. And that’s how you do it really, with an interesting cast and fast action. My advice though to the creators, if they’re out there reading this would be this: don’t sell out, guys.

This is a good IDEA for a comic, but I encourage you to do more with this than just let it be an action-movie ride that we could get from The Fast and the Furious or whatever Michael Bay film is getting cranked out next year. It’s a great context- see where it takes you.