Welcome back to another installment of Mutantversity! Mutantversity is your home for all things X-Men. In Mutantversity, I, your loyal X-Men tutor, will look at all the things happening in the mutant universe. This spring, Marvel relaunched everything with brand new teams and brand new titles. My goal is to streamline most of this for you and take a deeper look at the history and the future of the franchise with a focus on the new comics. This week, I’m looking at Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman, an original X-Man with a long history. He has been in almost every incarnation of the core team and he’s taken part in some of the biggest moments of the X-Men’s history. Let’s look at a little bit of where he’s been and where he is now in “Iceman” #1.
Bobby Drake was born in Long Island to William and Beatrice Drake. He was raised in an upper middle class family and during high school, his powers manifested. It became a bit of a scandal in his town when this happened but Charles Xavier had found him and told his parents about his school. Bobby’s parents thought this was a good idea and so, he became one of the very first students at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. He joined Cyclops, Beast, Jean Grey and Angel as the first real X-Men team and he would remain a part of various version of the team for decades to come.
Some X-Men have been defined by their romantic relationships, others by their rivalries but in the case of Iceman, he has been defined by his dedication to the team and his powers. Iceman is an omega level mutant. This term is not something that’s been entirely explained but it involves having power that no other mutant can reach. It’s taking your mutation to a higher level. Some other people in the category are Quentin Quire, Jean Grey, Rachel Summers and Legion. So, you can see what kind of powers we’re dealing with here.
Iceman’s powers start to go through changes when he visits Asgard for the first time. Loki does something to him that enhances his powers but he can’t really control it. He’s later given a dampening belt that he uses until he rejoins the X-Men. Slowly, Bobby learns that he can actually turn his body into ice and not just cover himself with it. He learned to use his body as a weapon by throwing spears and creating things instead of just being able to freeze things. At one point, he couldn’t change himself back but as the years have gone on, Iceman has not only been able to turn back and forth easily but can create constructs made of ice and can control moisture on even the smallest molecular level. At this point in time, Iceman has become a master with his powers but he still has a way to go. In “Battle of the Atom,” the X-Men meet future versions of themselves and Iceman learns that one day he’ll be able to make golem like versions of himself through his powers.
As I mentioned, Bobby Drake is really defined by his powers and his work on various X-Men teams. He’s has romances and pined for other heroes but he’s never really been a character explored as a person instead of just a superhero. This has changed in recent years with a big personal revelation for the character that ends up being a big part of his solo series. In 2012, Beast, fearing the worst for this world and mutants in it, brought the original versions of the original five X-Men into the future. While their original timeline is still unknown, they are stuck here and are growing up in a time they don’t belong in. Iceman was one of the X-Men who had to learn to live with the teenage version of himself existing in the same time period as he.
Near the end of that run, teen Jean asked teen Bobby why he calls women hot. Taken aback by this, he asks her what she means and she replies that he’s gay. How does she know this? Teen Jean Grey has a hard time controlling her powers and she’s basically in everyone’s head all the time. She knows things about people that she shouldn’t and basically outs Bobby before he has a chance to confront these things for himself. After they talk, they approach older Iceman and he reveals that he concealed this part of himself because he was a superhero and a mutant. He had made choices in his life that pushed aside his identity as a gay man but now that it has come up, he can’t hide it anymore.Continued below
This entire reveal is still very controversial because of its execution. At the time this happened, there was belief that this wouldn’t be picked up in anyway and that we’d get a horrible storyline where older Bobby simply stopped being gay but that’s not what happened. Despite the awful way Jean Grey reveals this to him, “Iceman” #1 wouldn’t exist in this form if it weren’t for this. For a long time, fans speculated that Iceman was gay but this was the first actual statement of it within the pages of a comic book. Many LGBT people come out later in life. I’m 26 and it was only last year that I began to confront my own bisexuality. This is a thing that happens and the inexperience and feeling of loneliness that comes with that is something we see a little of in “Iceman” #1.
Forging A Future
“Iceman” #1 is probably my favorite first issue of all the relaunched X-Men titles because it’s the first one with something new to say in the context of the greater X-Men universe. “Iceman” #1 finds Bobby Drake enjoying some downtime and he decides to put himself out there by joining a dating website for gay men. He’s struggling with how to describe himself and his life when he gets a message about his dad having a bit of a medical emergency. His relationship with his parents is strained and when a Purifier attacks the hospital he’s at to attack a young girl, things get worse. Bobby’s parents just want to live a normal life without all this drama so Iceman leaves and doesn’t tell them much about his life these days.
“Iceman” #1 is the first X-Men comic book in a long time that doesn’t try to frame itself as a straight up superhero story. This isn’t quite “Hawkeye” but the superhero stuff is basically framed around this life that Iceman wants to make for himself. While it’s important to show healthy relationships between gay men, it’s also important to show that being a single gay man who dates is also okay. “Iceman” #1 actually reminds me a little of “Midnighter” in this sense as we saw that character absolutely play the field. The big difference between the two is that Iceman is inexperienced but not once is that something he’s ashamed of. He’s living his life and learning as he goes along. He’s confronting parts of him that he pushed aside for everything else and is now reclaiming that.
Unlike a lot of the other X-Men titles, it’s hard to connect this to everything else. The use of a Purifier absolutely cements this within that bigger universe. Iceman is a part of other books and is a staple of the X-Men universe so I’m curious as to where this series goes. We’ve already been introduced to another mutant (who will probably vanish after this) and Kitty Pryde will pop up in the second issue. What will Iceman’s evolution continue to be? Will he become more of a teacher at the institute? When will he finally get a date?
As always, talk to me in the comments! What did you think of “Iceman” #1? What are some of your favorite Iceman stories?