Tag Archives: bobby drake

Review: Iceman #5

“Oh no, love. You’re not alone. No matter what or who you’ve been… Give me your hands!”- “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide” by David Bowie

In Iceman #5, Bobby finally comes out as gay to his parents, and they don’t accept him unconditionally. It’s an issue that really hit home for me personally and is easily Sina Grace’s best writing on the series. The scenes where the Drakes ask their son insensitive, probing questions about his sexuality are more painful than any blow from the unstoppable, time displaced from the 1960s Juggernaut, who is this issue’s villain of the week. Artist Alessandro Vitti and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg draw a mano a mano battle between Iceman and Juggernaut that is juxtaposed with his coming out letter. These scenes show the cathartic nature of superhero comics for queer people, and their ability to make me escape from my issues with a tale of derring-do and overcoming seemingly unbeatable odds.

In previous issues,  I feel like Grace portrayed Bobby’s parents more sympathetically, but their insensitive, bigoted words towards him in Iceman #5 show why he didn’t come out to him earlier and wanted to do it via letter where he could filter and write out his thoughts in a more organized manner. Vitti draws them with big wrinkles and glaring, ugly expressions as they treat Bobby’s sexuality as hypothetical and even ask him questions about sex life. His mom even uses “mutie” and “queer” as slurs and blames his dad’s side of the family for passing these “genes” to him. Instead of accepting, she constantly talks about how he’s a disappointment, and Mr. Drake won’t even recognize him as their son anymore. Grace and Vitti defuse the tension a little bit with some Idie and Quentin Quire antics, but they get blocked off from the narrative by a literal wall of ice given a glistening sheen by Rosenberg. And Kitty Pryde shows she’s an amazing friend by giving Bobby the opportunity to cut loose against Juggernaut (He probably should have backup though.)

IcemanAngry

And after taking non-stop verbal body blows from his parents, a solo fight against Juggernaut is what Bobby (and the plot of Iceman #5) needs. When the battle begins, Vitti draws a craggier Iceman (Because he’s angry.), and Rosenberg emphasizes the red on his uniform shirt. The battle itself is a blockbuster one and extremely creative as Bobby doesn’t have to hold back against the Juggernaut, whose only motivation is to wreck stuff and kill the X-Men blue team, who brought him to present times from the 1960s.

The dad jokes are gone, and Vitti and Rosenberg replace with double page, shoujo manga-esque spreads of Bobby freezing the speed of light to hit the Juggernaut and then using his ability to change into a vapor to escape his clutches and finally put the kibosh on him. After these pages and a beautiful transformation, the fact that Iceman is an omega level mutant is at the forefront of his character and not just a trivia fact. As he mentions to his dad at the end of the issue, being honest about who he loves has helped him use his mutant powers more effectively. This is definitely true because Bobby does a lot of cool things this issue like impaling Juggernaut on an icicle and sending his ice golems to save civilians while he focuses on keeping Juggy occupied. Water is all around us, and in Bobby’s capable hands, it can be a powerful weapon. Vitti and Rosenberg get really creative with his powers in this issue, especially when he is about to beat the Juggernaut.

The bittersweet ending to Iceman #5 where Bobby and his dad have a polite chat about his letter, say they love each other, and reconcile in the snow rings true to my own experience as a queer man. My parents don’t approve of my sexuality, but they actually do still care about me, and we have a pretty good relationship. Personally, this makes me hurt a lot deeper than a simple Westboro Baptist Church type of hate because it’s infused with love.

Iceman #5 works as a comic because Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti, and  holds a mirror to mine and other queer men’s experiences using mutant powers and superhero battles as big visual metaphors of both triumph and empowerment when Iceman defeats Juggernaut all by his lonesome and the feeling of being an outsider with his vapor abilities.

Iceman #5 is a powerful, cathartic end to the first arc of the comic and showed me that I’m not alone…

Story: Sina Grace Art: Alessandro Vitti Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 9.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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

Review: Iceman #3

Iceman3CoverThe unofficial title for this issue should seriously be “No More Mr. Nice Gay”.  Iceman goes over to his parents’ house to reconnect and perhaps even come out  to them, but the family “bonding” is interrupted by a Purifier attack. Iceman #3 is the darkest issue of the series yet, and Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti, and Rachelle Rosenberg give us a glimpse of Bobby’s omega level mutant abilities during a battle in his childhood home. He doesn’t come out to his parents in this issue, but Grace skillfully uses the metaphor of the mutant and the X-Men to show how difficult it is for more traditionally minded people to come to terms with queer people. He writes Mr. and Mrs. Drake very compassionately even if his mom is a little obsessed with asking if the X-Men offer any benefits like a 401K.

With lines and pockmarks everywhere, Alessandro Vitti’s take on human beings aren’t super pleasing in Iceman #3. At the same time, it’s nice to see folks with wrinkles and laugh lines, and the things that make us human. He and Rosenberg fare better during the intense action part of the book. Bye bye ice slides, and hello ice shards and trapping people in ice as Iceman doesn’t pull any punches with the bigots who held guns to his parents’ heads. Iceman is making Elmer Fudd jokes, and then he sees an asshole in a trench with a gun going on about justice. Something snaps, and the pace of the comic gets more frantic and the ice projectiles get more dangerous. By the end of the issue, Iceman is acting closer to Wolverine than his jovial self walking through bullets and explosions and marking up his enemies. He has a reputation as a jokester, but cares about his family and wants to protect them no matter the cost.

Iceman3Interior

Some of the best parts of Sina Grace’s work on Iceman has been the scenes where Bobby opens up to friends or family about his emotions and his life as both a mutant and a gay man. There aren’t any epiphanies or Hallmark moments with him and his parents in Iceman #3, but they slowly begin to understand where Bobby is coming from. I enjoyed reading the interplay between them at the dinner table and even though they have different lifestyles and beliefs, all the Drakes use humor to deflect serious situations. They have the kind of messy talks that mostly families do. It’s kind of sad that Mr. and Mrs. Drake still struggle to understand their son’s life as a mutant and X-Man, but they love him fiercely. I was pumping my fist when Mr. Drake called out the Purifiers’ leader Beckett for using his religious beliefs as a justification for hatred and violence even though he was being held in a chokehold.

Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti, and Rachelle Rosenberg start to find their storytelling footing in Iceman #3 with their combination of introspective heart to heart and superhero action. There is less humor and more darkness in this issue, but who has time for one-liners when your family’s lives are threatened by hatemongers.

Story: Sina Grace Art: Alessandro Vitti Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 9.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Review: Iceman #1

The adult version of Iceman gets a solo series thanks to the talented team of writer Sina Grace (Self-Obsessed), artist Alessandro Vitti (Secret Warriors), and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg. It’s also the first Marvel comic to feature a queer male superhero as the protagonist in quite some time as the House of Bi Erasure decides to throw us a bone for Pride Month. For the most part, Iceman #1 is a breezy read with banter and creative action, but there is a real sadness to its core as Bobby’s parents still haven’t come to terms with him being both gay and a mutant. Grace makes his relationship with them complicated because they aren’t complete bigots like the one-dimensional bad guy that he fights this issue. These kind of nuanced conversations are one of the benefits of having an actual gay man write this title.

Iceman #1 reads like a companion to the memorable and authentic (Thanks to the coaching of Ian McKellen and directing of Bryan Singer.) “coming out” scene between Bobby and his parents in the 2003 film X2.  For the most part, the LGBTQ subtext of X2 is text in Iceman even though Grace and Vitti stop short of Bobby and his parents having a conversation about his sexuality with a battle against the anti-mutant, football helmet wearing terrorist, Purifier interrupting their chat. It’s nice to see Bobby banter with his parents about his ice slides and his mom’s copyright friendly version of a Bed, Bath, and Beyond addiction, but then find out that they didn’t tell him they were moving. Also, they kind of sweep his sexuality under the rug, and Vitti zooms in on the downcast expression on Bobby’s face when his mom asks about his “girlfriends”.

Their interactions are a little emotional because of his dad’s pericarditis, friendly, and a little bit awkward. When their child comes out, parents sometimes aren’t completely bigoted (Kicking you out of the house) or accepting. (Hugs all around). A lot of times they are somewhere in between. This has been my own personal experience, and it’s nice to see Sina Grace and Alessandro Vitti reflect it in a superhero comic. To go with the uncomfortable nature of Iceman discussing his sexuality and mutant status, there is the fact that his high adventure lifestyle as a superhero has caused him to drift apart from his parents. Iceman is busy saving the day and traveling the globe and multiple dimensions so he doesn’t really have time for weekend visits. He’s growing up and coming into his own as a superhero and man, but that means leaving his childhood behind. But Grace still writes him being goofy as hell, and the comic ends on an emoji.

Alessandro Vitti throws away the notion that superhero art has to be cleanly inked and penciled in his work on Iceman #1. In keeping with the improvisational nature of Iceman’s powers, it looks like subzero jazz with plenty of speed lines during fight scenes before slowing down and being more expressive during serious scenes, like when Bobby sees his parents in the hospital. To go with his art, Rachelle Rosenberg uses a palette that Andre 3000 would describe as “cooler than being cool”, and you can feel the temperature drop when Iceman uses abilities. But there are subtle differences in how the ice looks like a more playful snowball/slushie feel when the Icemen are sparring in the Danger Room versus a harder/freeze you in carbonite color for when he surrounds the Purifier in a pointy ice cave.

Even though its bad guy is one note, and an ongoing threat isn’t built up, Iceman #1 is a successful start to the adult Bobby Drake’s solo debut. Sina Grace’s dialogue has a silly sense of humor just like Iceman has had since the Jack Kirby and Stan Lee days, and it’s nice to have an X-book with more of a slice of life-meets-cool superpowers vibe instead of being steeped in continuity, nostalgia, and/or edginess. Plus Alessandro Vitti and Rachelle Rosenberg realize that Iceman can pretty much shape matter to his will and use this as a license to let their creativity to run wild.

It’s super fun to see Bobby Drake kick ass and crack dad jokes while struggling with dating and his relationships with friends and family as a newly out adult gay man in Iceman #1.

Story: Sina Grace Art: Alessandro Vitti Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 7.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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.