Writer Sina Grace, new series artist Robert Gill (Who ups the beefcake level considerably), and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg give Bobby Drake a fresh start on the West Coast in Iceman #6 as he reunites with his former Champions teammates: Angel, Hercules, Darkstar, and Ghost Rider (The Johnny Blaze version) in L.A. They start by sharing memories about their fallen friend Black Widow (Who was brutally fridged in Secret Empire by HYDRA Cap.), but the story gets much lighter. The banter between the short-lived superhero teammates is pretty fun, and best of all, Iceman finally gets to go on a date and do gay things with a cute guy out West.
Iceman #6 is a little short on action with the bad guy being a Hollywood effects wannabe/single mom, who decides to make her big mark by building a Sentinel and wrecking the city for some reason or another. Her motivation is pretty weak, and she’s basically just there to set up a superhero team-up in the next issue and set up a funny joke mixing Iceman up with the Silver Surfer. (Because they both wear trunks and nothing else sometimes, I guess.) But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Grace and Gill spend most of the issue establishing the bond between the once and future Champions and having Bobby flirt, dance, and yes, even make out with a guy he meets while waiting in line for a new pair of cool shoes. Judah uses even more ,and it’s nice to see someone finally show Bobby the ropes of being an out gay man with the painful coming out to his parents arc out of the way.
He does doing anything crazy or innovative with panel layouts, but Robert Gill brings a real energy and sexiness to his artwork in Iceman #6. My main problem with his art is that his civilian designs for Johnny Blaze and Angel are a little too similar, and I had to use context/comics backstory clues to realize that Bobby and Warren were having a heart to heart on the Hollywood sign, not Iceman and Ghost Rider. However, he more than redeems himself in the sequence where Bobby and Judah cut a rug on the dance floor that has a swirling energy and a blue from Rachelle Rosenberg that is part romantic, part “in da club”. Gill uses a couple inset panels to show off Bobby and Judah’s moves and flirting before zooming out for a big damn Hollywood kiss. He captures the fashion, fun, and friendship of my favorite gay bars and clubs, and some highlights are Hercules’ deep V and Ghost Rider trying to find parking for his bike next to some leather daddies. Grace’s writing digs into a nice vein of awkwardness, self-realization, and adrenaline that I definitely felt the first time I kissed a man Yay for stubble on cheeks!
With the return of the Champions combined with Bobby going on its first date, Iceman #6 hits a nice sweet spot between Bronze Age era nostalgia and modern slice of life. Sina Grace writes the interactions between Bobby and the Champions like a college reunion (He even studied accounting in grad school during the original series.) with the memories of the past being the main conversation topic except for when he chats with Angel, who is like the good college friend you’ve stayed in touch with over the years. It’s also nice to see him go on a date and use his superhero buddies to impress his date while Robert Gill’s art is definitely more aesthetically pleasing than some of the previous visuals on Iceman.
Finally, the Iceman smooching in this issue is a great belated National Boyfriend Day present.
Story: Sina Grace Art: Robert Gill Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review