Inside Look: I.C.E. #1

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Inside Look is Broken Frontier's director’s commentary-like feature in which creators take you behind the scenes of one of their latest comics to hit the stands. In this edition: Doug Wagner on I.C.E. #1, out now from 12 Gauge Comics.

The first I.C.E. mini-series is set in the suffocating heat and humidity of the South. I.C.E. Special Agent Cole Matai leads a tactical team that is dragged into an investigation of brutal murders involving one of Mexico’s most infamous drug lords. The team has to pull out all the stops to track down this murderous beast, but when they finally confront him, not all goes as planned. Chaos and damnation ensue.

Page 1

Page 1 was one of my favorite pages to write for this story. It says so much without the use of dialogue, which I love about the visual medium of comics. Its primary goal is to establish where this particular scene takes place. However, if you look a little deeper, the images spell out what the entire mini-series is really all about – a border. Here you’ve got this innocent lizard wanting to simply cross the road. The moment he decides to act, he’s plunged into chaos. Much like the current political environment when broaching the topic of immigration.

Page 11

Page 11 begins establishing why I.C.E. would bring a tactical team into a murder investigation while doing a slow build towards the horror coming on the next page turn. I also threw in a bit of “buddy humor” to continue establishing the dynamics of the team. Show how they interact, that they have some history, and that they’re more than just co-workers.

Page 12

Shock! That’s this page’s true purpose. This image is what the entire story was created from. This mini-series is based on a true story that happened just down the road from Keven Gardner’s (12-Gauge Comics’ President) home. I intentionally left this page without dialogue so the scene could speak for itself. From my perspective, comics are first and foremost a visual medium. Why not let Jose shine here. And my collaborating artist delivered more than I expected. I still worry about him after seeing this page.

Page 13

Page 13 was written to function on two levels. First, I wanted to reveal that Cole’s team isn’t just a bunch of hired guns and brainless muscle. Even a tactical team has to have some intelligence to stay alive. And secondly, I wanted to pass along the brutality of real-world crime. Yes, I know this scene may seem over the top, but again, it’s completely based on a true story. Yep, even the testicles part.

Page 14

Page 14 was a little tricky. I wanted to make sure the reader understood that Cole knows his team shouldn’t be here and that a murder investigation isn’t what he does. His team is more akin to a pride of lions – you point them in a direction and let them go. Cole wants nothing to do with this and feels a bit threatened by the shift in operating orders.

Page 15

After a few more tidbits of “buddy humor,” Page 15 dives into Cole’s leadership style as well as his perspective on illegal immigrants. Again, he knows his team is trained to hunt, so he gives new parameters to his pride of lions. It’s important that his team knows they need to keep their muzzles on. And I thought it was important to give the reader a little taste of Cole’s perspective on illegal immigrants. Just because he works for I.C.E. doesn’t mean he despises illegal immigrants. He knows some are good and some are bad. Just like the people living here legally.

Page 16

Page 16 shows how difficult it is for law enforcement to make any headway on a case like this. Although I believe the majority of people in this world are good folks, I think we can all understand the fear gangs can instill in those around them. Who wouldn’t second guess cooperating with law enforcement if you or your family were threatened?

What’s coming next?

More chaos and damnation.

I.C.E. #1 (of 4), Doug Wagner (W), Jose Holder and Brian Stelfreeze (A), 12 Gauge Comics, $1.00, out now.

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