Tag Archives: bisexuality

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Why I Won’t Miss Marvel’s Iceman Comic

I have had such a love/hate relationship with Sina Grace‘s Iceman run over its nine issues, but issue nine tipped the scales from “Hey, this is a fun book. I’m feeling it” to “Daken is hot, and it’s nice to see Northstar and his husband, but wow, this is bad.” After spending the five issues having Bobby summon up his courage to come out as gay to his parents via letter, Grace and new series artist Robert Gill have had him let down his hair and relax in the four issues of the “Legacy” era. While having a reunion with his old Champions teammates, Bobby met a cute boy named Judah Miller in L.A. and was thinking about leaving the X-Men and moving to Southern California. This was really a big step for him as a character, and it seemed like Iceman was starting to explore his sexuality more for the first time since he came out in November 2015’s Uncanny X-Men #600.

But that didn’t happen. In Iceman #9, Gill continued to bring the beefcake, and it looked like he and Sina Grace were turning in yet another fun issue with Bobby introducing Judah to his X-Men family and a fight against the mutant-phobic (And probably homophobic) Purifiers while setting up Daken and his edgelord acolyte Amp as the main villain. A throwaway line about the gay former X-Force/X-Factor member Rictor breaking up with his longtime partner Shatterstar should have foreshadowed that events were going to take a turn for the sinister. This is when Daken stabs Judah and makes a joke about fridges, and the plot reason is basically to make Iceman angry and use more of his potential powers.

It’s the “bury your gays” trope in a comic that up to this point has seemed to be about finding your own unique identity even when people hate and criticize you like Bobby’s parents about his life as an X-Man and a gay man.

This trope is even more disappointing coming from Sina Grace, who is a gay man himself, and has written insightful graphic memoirs like Self-Obsessed Nothing Lasts Forever , and even Not My Bag is a humorous, relatable look at balancing an artistic career with a dead end retail job.

Instead of mining the potential of Iceman moving three time zones away from the X-Men and beginning his first romantic relationship with a man, Grace and Gill go for cheap drama and stale story elements. They don’t make an attempt to add Judah Miller to the great stable of “civilian” X-Men supporting characters, like Moira MacTaggert or Stevie Hunter, and just kill him off to further Iceman’s story and make Daken a “more evil” villain.

Also, changing Daken from a seductive manipulator who kisses Judah right in front of Bobby into a remorseless killer makes him much less interesting character. Sure, his powers might have an upgrade, and he might have a new look thanks to the Apocalypse death seed inside him, but the whole sexy bad boy thing goes away. After Daken kisses Judah, there’s a great opportunity for Bobby and Judah to have a talk about their difference in sexual experience, but I guess that’s too mature for a Marvel comic and takes time away from edgy jokes, fight scenes, and mind control drama.

In a very later seasons of The Walking Dead way, killing off Judah does up the stakes of Iceman and finally gives the book a real Big Bad after going more of a villain/antagonist of the week route ranging from Purifiers to Juggernaut and weirdly and slightly more sympathetically, a woman trying to make it in Hollywood by jerry-rigging her own Sentinels. However, Sina Grace falls into the trap of writing gay men as wholesome Modern Family/Will and Grace types, who enjoy fashion and brunching and bisexual men (Really man because Daken is the only bi character in Iceman.) as sexually predatory and villains.

We’re good for fun sexy times and intense flirtation, but definitely aren’t someone to bring home to the X-Men or parents.

I’m not saying that Grace really thinks bisexual men are sociopaths, but it’s a little sad that gay characters, like Bobby, and to a lesser extent after this issue, Judah, can be fully fleshed out human beings with desires, interests, and neuroses while a bisexual character gets coded as the bad guy, who, oops, makes funnier jokes than the good guys. Daken going completely off the rails without having a solid villain motivation beyond his “edgy” bisexual coding is a regressive, boring throwback to the queer coding of Disney villains and using society’s implicit biphobia to make them seem both evil and seductive. It’s up there with connecting Deadpool’s pansexuality to mental illness.

Daken doesn’t have to be a cuddly, Drag Race watching superhero with a strict, no kill policy, but he has to have a stronger character motivation beyond adolescent nihilism or “for the evils”. For example, Steve Orlando wrote the gay anti-hero Midnighter as a murderer, but he killed those who exploited others like he was exploited by the men who experimented on him and implanted his brain with technology to see the outcome of every fight. This is much more fascinating than depraved bisexual serial killer.

Throughout its run, Iceman has suffered from inconsistency in quality from the constantly changing artists to the heavy decompression and sometimes after school special tone of Bobby coming out to parents his in the first storyline. Up to this point, the “Legacy” storyline hasn’t been bad thanks to some fun guest stars like the younger Iceman, Champions, and Northstar and Kyle in Iceman #9, but then Sina Grace decided to sacrifice character growth for hackneyed plot “twists”.

Instead of doing something revolutionary with a rare opportunity to have a gay male character headline his own Marvel book, he falls back on the same old story patterns of mind controlled, queer coded villains and a dead, barely fleshed out love interest to make the light hearted hero darker and more vengeful.

It’s nice to have a mainstream comic book featuring a queer male character as a headliner, but we as readers deserve more than Will and Grace meets Women in Refrigerators, which is why I’ll be missing Iceman less than I probably should. His solo title had an excellent opportunity to zero in on Bobby’s relationships and growth, but now he’ll probably be back as the X-Men’s resident dad jokester and source of untapped potential without even getting to take a shot and see what his life would be outside that world.

Review: Iceman #4

ICEMAN2017004_covFinally, Iceman gets a little sexy in issue where writer Sina Grace, artists Edgar Salazar and Ed Tadeo, and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg have Bobby bump into Wolverine’s mad, bad, and dangerous to know bisexual son Daken while he’s trying to rescue his rebellious student, Zach, from a members only nightclub. Up to this point, Grace has mainly focused on Iceman’s attempts to come out to his parents and hasn’t had him get into any romantic situations with other men. This is why it’s super nice (and hot) to have him flirt and fight with Daken, who isn’t the best influence on Zach, a mutant that can mess up with electronics and isn’t a fan of the regimented life style at the Xavier School.

Iceman #4 is one of the better structured issues of the series with Grace connecting its plot to a previous adventure while throwing in a splashy guest star, some fantastic action, and some real talk about Iceman’s insecurities and faux confidence. He’s supposed to be a teacher, but is still working on his own issues, like coming out as an adult and not reaching his potential when it comes to his ice abilities. Grace doesn’t go as far as painting the X-Men as evil, but he does demonstrate that their almost paramilitary approach to working with young mutants isn’t the best fit for everyone.

Maybe, some mutants don’t want to fight Apocalypse and just want to dance, play video games, and have a good time. (A partnership with Patsy Walker’s superpowered temp agency would easily solve this problem and also give an excuse for bi bae Ian Soo to appear in Iceman.) It’s honorable that Bobby wants Zach to be able to control his vast powers, but threats and lectures aren’t his style, and the teen can see through him saying that he’ll carry him out of the club in ice handcuffs. Later, in Iceman #4, a skewered-by-ice Daken offers some much needed snarky, yet constructive criticism about Bobby’s approach to leadership and teaching. Basically, Bobby is talking at Zach and not having a discussion about how he feels, like when Bobby makes snide comments about Zach’s Internet friend. Iceman is hella insecure in general with his emotions veering closer to his pal, Human Torch, and not his cool exterior. And he’s going to go supernova metaphorically when his parents show up at the X-Mansion unannounced at the end of the comic.

DakenIcemanHot

Edgar Salazar and Ed Tadeo’s art isn’t the flashiest, but it’s easy to follow, especially the action scenes which have clear moves and motivations. Daken has a healing factor so Bobby doesn’t have to hold back and executes a killer finishing move that plays off Daken’s pet name for Bobby featuring a cool metallic sheen from Rachelle Rosenberg. Also, Salazar and Tadeo’s figure work is quite attractive and seems tailor made for the bisexual gaze aka people who have crushes on both Kitty Pryde and Iceman like yours truly instead of awkward, how is that even a human being 90s inspired superhero art. The cherry on top of the sundae that is Bobby Drake in a white tux is Daken, who is a true homme fatale, and in Salazar and Tadeo’s hands, his ice abilities turn into a kind of sort of metaphor for Iceman possibly being sexually frigid. However, dating and sexy stuff after coming is a real maze to navigate so I also like that Grace, Salazar, and Tadeo are slowly easing Bobby into the world of romance and sexy times.

Some of the dialogue is cheesy, but Sina Grace, Edgar Salazar, Ed Tadeo, and Rachelle Rosenberg make Iceman #4 one of the more memorable issues of the series by adding a hint of sexual tension in the interactions (and action of the mutant powers sort) between Daken and Iceman.  Also, Zach running away exposes some vulnerabilities in Iceman beneath his dad joke making, Disney movie referencing, and ice golem hurling exterior.

Story: Sina Grace Pencils: Edgar Salazar Inks: Ed Tadeo Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 8.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.0  Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

SDCC 2016: BiNet USA to Launch Bi Stories Project

BiNet USABiNet USA, the nation’s umbrella organization and voice for bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer (bi+) people, will launch a new campaign at this week’s upcoming San Diego Comic-Con, focused on bi+ people and their families and loved ones sharing their stories. The stories will be collected as part of a program aimed at raising awareness of the discrimination bi+ people face, as well as the journeys of those who love and support them.

The BiNet USA Bi Stories project will launch in conjunction with a Comic-Con panel, “Bisexuality and Beyond: New Frontiers in Popular Culture,” sponsored by the BiNet Bi Stories Project and Prism Comics, and featuring Cheltenham, Bob Schreck (Legendary Comics), Marissa Lee (Racebending.com), Tara Madison Avery (Gooch, Anything That Loves), RJ Aguiar (YouTube’s “TheNotAdam,” NotAdamAndSteve.com), and Steve Orlando (Midnighter, Batman & Robin Eternal). The panel will focus on bi representations in popular culture and what these images of bisexual identity mean for the bi+ community.

The panel and the Bi Stories project, along with BiNet’s other work, is meant to raise awareness and visibility about the numerous disparities the bi+ community faces –– including higher rates of physical and mental health problems, and lower levels of social support –– compared to both their lesbian/gay and non-LGBTQ counterparts. Bi+ people also face discrimination and biphobia from within the LGBTQ community, making it more difficult to be out and connected with a supportive community.

Earlier this month, BiNet USA’s Bi Stories Project co-sponsored programming at the annual Netroots Nation conference, including a “chill space” for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) people of color, and an event highlighting the voices and experiences of bi+ people of color, #BiPOC Speak Out.

To participate in the program, please visit binetusa.org/bistories and use the #bistories hashtag on social media to follow along with all of our Comic Con activities!

Graphic Policy Radio is LIVE this Monday

GP Radio Special Mondya 9pmThis Monday night Graphic Policy returns with a brand new episode mixing comics and politics. Listen in as we talk live about some of the latest comic news. The episode airs LIVE this Monday at 9pm ET.

On this episode, we’re discussing:

  • All-New X-Men made waves this past week when founding X-Man Bobby Drake aka Iceman was revealed to be gay. The writing though was controversial concerning statements around bisexuality. We talk about what happened, what we like vs what is still really troubling.
  • DC Comics revealed that Frank Miller will be penning Dark Knight III: The Master Race. Miller will be joined by Brian Azzarello on writing duties. We discuss the unfortunate name for the new series.
  • DC Comics’ Convergence is wrapping up its first month this week. The two month event consists of a main series and a bunch of tie-in series. We discuss what we think so far. and what we hope to see in the second month.

We’ll discuss all of that and more! We want to hear what you think too! Tweet us your thoughts @graphicpolicy or call (619) 768-2952 to let us know what you think.

Bisexual Erasure Strikes Again in All-New X-Men #40

All New X-Men 40 biBrian Michael BendisAll-New X-Men #40 hits shelves tomorrow with a big change to one of the original X-Men characters. Warning Spoilers to follow.

In the issue, regular jokester Bobby Drake aka Iceman, is confronted by telepath Jean Grey after Drake makes a comment about the “hotness” of a female character Magik. Grey, reading his mind, outs Bobby as a gay. Bobby initially disagrees, citing the fact that his older self (time travel stuff) has dated numerous women. He asserts to Jean that maybe he’s bisexual to which Jean says nope, he’s “fully gay.” You can read the exchange on the left.

So I’ve been sitting on this because I want to read All-New X-Men #40 myself first before going on record. But having seen the panels I need to at least say this: Bendis, I really respect your work but you messed this up. Please consider listening to actual bisexual people when you do this sort of thing. Because we are going to have a different perspective on this than you will. I’m not saying that Bobby needs to be bi (though lord knows, we need another bi hero). I’m not saying that Bobby should identify in any particular way. I’m saying that the way the scene was written dismisses the existence of bisexual people. And Bobby deserves to have the chance to define his own sexual orientation rather than having a narrator stand-in tell him how he should or shouldn’t identify.

Evan at Bisexual Books summed it up nicely:

Saying everyone is bi erases us. It invalidates bisexual identity and gives room for people to feel it’s perfectly ok for them to smack their own labels on us rather than allowing us to self identify. This is exactly what young Jean does to young Bobby in this exchange.

Maybe the writer doesn’t want us to interpret Jean’s voice as the narrator’s, though her being a telepath complicates this. Maybe he is showing the limitations of her teenage vocabulary and understanding of human sexuality (they just pulled her out of the 60s). But it is hard for me to read the scene any other way.

erasure(and thank you to herecomesthewomanwithoutfear aka Emma Houxbois for turning my Living Eraser from Dimension Z comment into an awesome jpg. FYI the Living Eraser is a comics meta joke dating back to the silver age).

Also, go read her piece on Rainbow Hub. It’s smarter then mine. And she’s not even bi. So yeah, I’m jealous that she put it better then I did.