We reviewed the book on the Stack podcast. But in the interest of highlighting more about the title, here’s a summary of the conversation with our thoughts. And if you prefer the longer audio version, that’s below as well!
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Swan Songs #4 Review:
In the issue, a man is released from prison only to get sucked right back into a life of crime by his brother. However, thanks to his partial rehabilitation, and his love of “Sad Libs” he’s very conflicted about the robbery gone wrong.
“I love how light this was in contract to Ice Cream Man,” noted host Alex Zalben, comparing it to Prince’s other Image Comics book. “And Caitlin Yarsky’s art is impeccable in every issue that she does.”
Justin Tyler agreed and was a big fan of the ending in particular. “W. Maxwell Prince is really modulating tones. Something like Ice Cream Man is such a high-anxiety comic. But with this book he gets to… come at stories from another angle, but still gives us the horrifying twist that we love.”
Diving into it further, Zalben discussed the end of the issue, and spoilers past this point. There, the reader is presented with their own “Sad Lib” to fill in, which either leads to the man killing his brother and getting away, or leaving his brother alive and getting arrested or killed.
“Ice Cream Man is nihilistic,” Zalben said. “Everything is bad all the time. Occasionally, there are these little glimmers of hope, but they’re always taken away, the rug is always pulled out from under you. Here it is up to the reader. It’s a very glass-half-full, glass-half-empty situation… I thought that was a genius way of ending the issue, is leaving it up to the reader. Do you want to look at the story positively? This guy learned something from a situation. Or do you want to look at this negatively? He is trapped in the inevitability of his life.”
Swan Songs #4 Official Synopsis:
“THE END OF A SENTENCE”
A man obsessed with “Sad Libs” gets out of prison, only to find himself totally lost in a world of crime and fill-in vocabulary.
W. MAXWELL PRINCE‘s obsession with cessation continues, featuring this issue’s superstar artist: CAITLIN YARSKY (Black Hammer)!
The end is the beginning is the end; these are the SWAN SONGS.