By Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti, Rachelle Rosenberg, Joe Sabino, and Kevin Wada.
This new solo title from the X-Men team at Marvel focuses on Bobby Drake, to be clear the lead is the older Iceman with his younger transposed self-serving as a nice secondary character. Things can get confusing when X-Men are involved, they have a long sordid history and each character has been through the ringer, and this title is part a new chapter in the X-Men franchise at Marvel, RessurXion, which follows the mutants regrouping after their battle with the Inhumans. We have seen solo run recently from many X-Men and Inhumans, (Jean Grey, Black Bolt), but Iceman #1 feels important. It could from the recent focus on Bobby’s sexuality, but there is something here to really discover with Bobby Drake. He has been really low-key since the Uncanny X-Men run from Bendis, and this solo title is a real opportunity to follow-up on issues not only around his sexuality, but also his relationship with his younger self from the past, his family, and his place in the X-Men.
Sina Grace, a real like LGBTQ advocate and comic writer/artist, is on duty as writer for Iceman #1 and the decision to put the fate of Bobby Drake’s solo run in his hands is fantastic. Grace, (Not My Bag, Self-Obsessed) is kind of a big deal in the comic world being an editor at Image while also creating innovate works. To be honest, the entire issue ties up the story nicely in a nice little bow that you may think this issue is a one shot. There is no real unresolved issue by the end of the issue, or introduced super Bad that needs to be stopped, it is just a typical day in the life of Iceman; devoted son, cool mutant mentor, and badass X-Man.
The issue opens with a cool danger room training session between Old-er Iceman and his younger self. Seeing the relationship between the two is one of the best things that can be shown throughout this series. The younger Iceman is confident, assured, and seems a little more comfortable in his own skin when put next to current time Iceman. Maybe this is from being displaced in a more tolerant time, or having been removed before a lot of traumatizing things happened to him, or being away from his awful parents during the challenging teenage years, but older Bobby Drake almost gets to relive his teenage years through this younger Bobby. We get to see current Iceman school him in some training techniques, but younger Bobby may be the one who needs to give the lessons around finding acceptance for yourself. We are reminded that Iceman is in fact an Omega level mutant, meaning he is kind of a big deal as far as mutants go. Seeing how our current Bobby Drake embraced his powers while still not fully coming to terms with his inner self allows the younger Iceman a chance to follow in his own footsteps while also being more comfortable with who he is. This dynamic has a lot of potential for future arcs that has yet to be explored. The sexuality aspect aside, there is a lot of fun things that can be explored between the two like with powers developing differently over time based on environmental factors.
The disparity between young and old Iceman is beautifully shown through art from Vitti. The character design of the youthful and current time Iceman is expertly done to show the evolution of Iceman’s powers and how far our Bobby Drake has come and how much this displaced Bobby Drake has yet to experience. The character design on current Iceman is the ice from we all know, and he wears the signature black bodysuit with the emblazoned red X across the front. The younger Bobby is in his slushy snow man self that is usually associates with Iceman in his early years, you know back when the X-Men wore blue and yellow and before Beast was all hairy.
The art throughout the issue is a fun ride with Vitti on art, colors from Rosenberg, and letters from Sabino. The art in this book is a balancing act between the soft and hard. The super expressive quality of Vitti’s art is complimented from the bright and vivid colors from Rosenberg that bring this book to life. When your hero is made of Ice, it can be hard to make that look dynamic or super impressive, but this team does a nice job. Iceman looks badass while taking on a purifier in a hospital, and the action really shows off his cool power set and also his sense of humor without losing the readers in a sea of white. The art compliments the writing in many respects, but it really comes together with the non verbal language we are getting from Bobby Drake this entire issue. This issue feature a real heart breaking moment for Bobby, thanks Sina Grace, and it isn’t the dialogue that gets you, but Bobby’s face of dejection that pulls on your heartstrings.
Iceman #1 did not disappoint in any specific way that really warrants a rant, but it does get a rant about the grace in which his sexuality was handled. Sure, Iceman coming out of the closet was an unintended big deal when it happened back in Uncanny X-Men #600, it created a lot of coverage for an event many found to be really unremarkable. Unremarkable in the sense that a comic book hero coming out as gay should be normalized, and apparently the industry still has work to do. His sexuality should not be the focus of this issue, that wouldn’t feel authentic. His sexuality should just be a part of him, like the fact that he has brown hair. Instead, Grace allows for a nice little side story of Iceman signing up for a dating website serve as the background overarching story for this first issue. People are undoubtedly going to buy this comic to support gay representation in comics, which is awesome, but this comic has to be more than just a gay superhero story. If we are to expect the human experience to be represented in our comics, then we have to expect more from the stories and the creators. This book definitely delivered in that respect, Iceman’s sexuality was not the sole focus of the book which would have made it feel exploited and therefore less impactful. Iceman #1 has the ability to allow comic fans and LGBTQ supporters to find common ground and enjoy a comic that happens to be about a hero who is gay.