If you’re a control freak, you may want to avoid this issue. As the story of a clinical drug trial deepens, you soon realize find yourself questioning reality itself until you finally figure out that we’re all rats in a maze.
In any experiment, a control group is essential. This group is not subjected to the particulars of the study – for example a patient in a pharmaceutical clinical trial being given a placebo. But when something happens with the control, the entire experiment is at risk.
Writer W. Maxwell Prince explores that notion of control and the helplessness of being a rat in a maze in the latest issue of the anthology series Ice Cream Man. Kenneth Molloy and Malhar Naik are willing participants in a hallucinogenic drug trial administered by Dr. Charles Benjamin. Molloy is told he is part of the control group, but after a series of visions – including being visited by the series’ recurring Ice Cream Man – he begins to realize the truth.
Slowly, the reader does as well. This is clearly more than just a simple study from Holt Pharmaceuticals. Rather it is a role-shifting mind warp that forces readers to question everything that they have read. It’s a considerable accomplishment, and Prince pulls it off deftly.
Artist Martin Morazzo deals with pretty standard fare through most of the story. After all, how exciting can you make a drug test? But as the hallucinations get deeper and more frightening, Morazzo gets to shine. The monster in the corner of the ceiling is a frightening creation that only he could deliver. And yet, the true monsters in this story are the humans – and he nails the true horror behind each of their faces. The cover showing rats navigating a maze perfecting illustrates the hopelessness found in the rest of the story.
We all like to believe that we have control over our actions and our lives. This story shows how foolish that idea truly is. At the end of the day, even those who think they are controlling us are themselves being controlled.
Ice Cream Man #30 will be available for purchase on May 25, 2022.