Iceman has risen from the ashes. Logically, that’s an oxymoron (how can a literal ice man rise from ashes without melting?), but for the story of the “Iceman” series, it’s truth. After a successful run in trade, Sina Grace’s “Iceman” series returned in September with a whole new set of adventures for Bobby Drake as he navigates the mutant life and his personal life. The series received several critical accolades (including one from us as we declared “Iceman” #11 our best issue of March 2018) for its sensitivity and respect in telling a coming-out story from various angles. Bobby’s back for round 2 with new enemies – – everyone from Emma Frost to the realities of dating.
At NYCC, I sat down with series writer Sina Grace to preview what’s coming next for Bobby, as well as talk about his other projects.
Please note that this interview was conducted before the release of “Iceman” #2 on Wednesday, October 1oth.
What was the reason that Bobby Drake gets to come back for another round?
Sina Grace: The nice thing about this entire news cycle is I get to tell the 1000% truth and it was just the book did really well at bookstores and in libraries. It found an audience. What was so crazy was that it found an audience really fast. They stuck around for the second volume. Marvel was getting fan mail. It was just undeniable. They asked me if I had more stories to tell and I do.
That first issue of this new volume that dropped two weeks ago if I’m right?
SG: Four weeks.
Four weeks ago.
SG: Because issue two comes out Wednesday.
Issue 1 sets up the Morlocks as the main foe for Bobby. I also noticed there’s another foe for him – – which is the ex that seems to be moving on and doing fine. What’s going to be worse for Bobby? Being an X-Man and dealing with mutant foes . . . or dealing with his ex living his best life and trying to want to have it all?
SG: Both I think. I’m really trying with this arc to really give Bobby Drake a little bit of sort of your favorite Peter Parker stories which is also fantastic that we get to use Peter in “Iceman” #3 when we reunite Spider-Man and his amazing friends. I just wanted to play with the juggle of “Bobby Drake X-Man” is doing well but “Bobby Drake person” struggles or “Bobby Drake person” thrives but “Iceman hero” struggles. That’s why I was really keen on using the Morlocks not as antagonists but as foils and as mirrors for him to look at his life and gain some new perspective. Then also to put him against a really really epic big bad like Mr. Sinister. We’re setting up for a crazy sort of fight scene that lasts two issues between four and five. It’s just going to be a lot of fun getting to see Bobby Drake be comfortable in his skin but still have problems.
This is going to be a continuous struggle of can he really have it all?
SG: Yeah. I say that the first series was a coming out story and this is a being out story. Just because some things are good that doesn’t mean you have all the answers.
The final issue of the first volume had some flashback to Bobby’s earlier life as he’s trying to help a neighbor next to his parents who just happened to be a mutant. I recall that the relationship with his parents evolved and it seems to have come to a peace of sorts but I feel like him and his parents and how they’re dealing with his sexuality and coming out, I feel like that’s not finished yet. Will we see mom and dad back in this volume?
SG: We get a glimpse of them. I would say at peace is one way to put that relationship. I think an armistice is another way to describe it because I think my favorite thing about writing this particular tale is everything I’ve been doing had come from an organic place. I talk a lot about how Bobby’s journey came from several different accounts of friends and exes of mine with your parents coming to accept anything about you, any part of your identity that they’re not comfortable with. They didn’t like that he’s a mutant. They didn’t like that he didn’t want to get a proper job and they don’t like that he wants to date men. It’s just going to be this constant back and forth as Iceman tries to massage them into the present.Continued below
You’re known also for some very deeply personal works including a favorite of mine, which is Nothing Lasts Forever, as well as Self-Obsessed. How much of you is in Bobby Drake?
SG: In the first series, not very much. I just felt like if I was going to be up against criticism I didn’t want to be called out for just writing myself. But with this current series we are having sort of the same journey together about what it means to be a vocal representative of your community and how are you the best version of that person and how are you the best version of yourself. I think we’re also reaching the same conclusion. There’s a band, Metric. They have a song out called Dark Saturday. There’s a little line in it that says, “To be good get better. I’ll change by staying the same.” I think that’s kind of the thesis of this Iceman arc. He’s just going to be a better version of himself and the same with me.
Have you learned anything about yourself as you write this character?
SG: Yeah, actually. When I was done with the first series I was talking with a friend about some other X-Man character. He’s like, “I really think you would do that character really well. He’s someone that if he could just be good with himself he would shine.” I was like, “What are you talking about. That’s not me … Oh.” I think that’s so much of what Iceman is about. He is this ultra powerful mutant who has not stepped up and lived in his skin and done everything he can do with his powers and the argument is he’s that way because he doesn’t love himself. He doesn’t confront things and he doesn’t embrace himself. I feel like for me and what’s been going on lately there have been times where I’ve just tried to duck, keep out of trouble, shut my mouth. Now I’m like, “No. I know what I’m doing and I’m good at this and I want to be here and I want to be better.” I’m not going to be the one to quiet my voice or minimize my life. That’s other people’s job.
If this dips into spoiler territory, just say so – – but if Judah decides to come back into Bobby’s life, do you think Bobby would take him back?
SG: I think if Judah came back seeking romance Bobby would say yes. I will tell readers no I’m not going to be the one to put them back together because I’m so much more interested in avoiding the OTP [one true pairing] trope. I think that was what was so fun about that relationship was that Bobby was able to dive in and it was his first thing and it just felt so right but it was a square peg situation and I think there’s still more to be done and said between those two and that’s all I am at liberty to discus regarding them. But yeah Bobby would. Are you kidding me? How easy would that be to just go for a known quantity. It feels safe and secure instead of constantly dating and trying to find a better fit because that is something we will be doing in this arc. I can say in “Iceman” #3 there is a first date in that issue – – and for not just Iceman.
You have a new artist for this series, Nathan Stockman, a known X-Men artist. How has it been working with him?
SG: I’ve been really lucky. I’ve had a great handful of artists on this series and Nate has kept up with them, surpassed some of them, surpassed them in different ways. The thing I love about him is he loves New York and he gets that making the city a character in this book is so important to everything on top of being able to draw awesome action sequences, on top of being able to draw humor, which is really hard to do. Portraying characters’ facial expressions is not an easy skill for a lot of comic book artists and he has it all. He’s the perfect package. He’s also just a really warm and giving collaborator and all of his suggestions are only to make the story telling better. Our sense of humor is aligned. There’s a gag in “Iceman” #2 that Nate actually came up with because he sent it to me in an email as a joke and I was like, “No, I’m not going to to do that.” Then I got to writing the script and I was like, “That’s a pretty good joke. I’m going to do that.”Continued below
Will we see any of the other artists from the first volume back, such as Robert Gill or Alessandro Vitti?
SG: I don’t think so. The reason we even got Nathan on the book was that both Alessandro and Robert were stuck on other projects at the time, thriving at Valiant, thriving at Skybound. We love them and if there’s a way that we can kind of bring everyone back in that would be rad but I’m also a big fan of a collected edition just having one artist. I like that the Robert trade is all Robert and I want the Nate trade to be all Nate.
Earlier, we hinted at a few things to come in this new series – – for example, we’re going to see Spiderman. We’re going to see a first date. Anything else – – without going too far into spoiler territory – – that you want to drop for us?
SG: I would love to so let’s see. Issue two, which is probably going to be out when people see this so none of this is a spoiler, we get to see Emma Frost. We get to see her brother Christian Frost. We get to reconcile a lot of fan theories in 20 pages and also probably make some people cry a little. Mr. Sinister is going to really amp up his presence by the time we get to issue three. The relationship, friendship between Bobby and Kitty Pryde will constantly be massaged and played with through out the arc. We will see a few familiar X faces. That is one of my favorite things about doing “Iceman” is I get to have him in the X-Mansion with all these people just floating in and out. Because I feel like that’s what a real X-Men book is, 20 side characters just walking and having a conversation in the background.
I imagine “Iceman” is taking up a ton of your time. Are there any other projects that you have on the horizon that you want to share with us?
SG: We just just announced this. I am doing a “Jem and the Holograms” one shot for IDW. It takes place 20 years in the future. I can not tell you how much fun I’m having. How epic and insane and real and authentic and truly truly outrageous. It’s a work for hire freelance project and I am repping it so hard because I’m just proud of my writing. Siobhan Keenan is drawing it. She is amazing. She did the clueless books with Amber Benson and Sara Kuhn. I have a six page story in “Infinity Wars ” #2 that really fleshes out Diamond Patch who is a warm of Emma Frost and Wolverine. It’s drawn by Chris Sprouse that is similarly one of my favorite stories I have written in a long time. In six pages I have three time lines. I get to be in the “Merry X-Men Holiday Special.” I’m really excited about that too. There’s a lot of little things coming up and big things coming up. It’s a good time to read stuff by me because I’m feeling very passionate and reinvigorated.
My 80’s child is seriously excited right now. How did you come to doing Jem and the Holograms?
SG: I really have a massive major respect boner for Sarah Gaydos who is now at Oni Press. I have always wanted to work with her. When she was doing “Jem and the Holograms: Dimensions” series she brought me on for a Misfits story because she knew that I can kind of speak to that Misfits punk rock energy. I did that and when the idea to do these 20-20 stories came up the editors over there, Megan Brown and Bobby Curnow, remembered me and didn’t have a bad taste in their mouths about me so they asked me if I’d be willing to pitch them. I basically sent them three ideas. I said, “All right this one is just a classic Jem story. This would be an ultra realistic story about Jem and the Holograms worried about becoming mommy rockers. The third one is a Dark Knight story where everyone’s kind of at their darkest hour and it’s how do you find the light in the darkness.” They were like, “Let’s do that one.” That’s all I can say about it.Continued below
When does that come out?
Sina, thank you so much.
SG: Thank you so much for having me.
“Iceman” is available at your comic shop and digitally now, with “Iceman” #3 dropping on November 7th.