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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

Preview: Iceman #5

Iceman #5

(W) Sina Grace (A) Alessandro Vitti (CA) Marco D’Alfonso
Rated T+
In Shops: Sep 06, 2017
SRP: $3.99

• Doing everything he can to avoid having a heart-to-heart with his parents, ICEMAN dives into super hero work. But he knows the approach of the truth is unstoppable…
• Luckily for Bobby Drake, there’s another unstoppable force barreling toward him: THE JUGGERNAUT has returned!
• But this is one alibi that might just be a death sentence!

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

Preview: Iceman #3

Iceman #3

(W) Sina Grace (A) Alessandro Vitti (CA) Kevin Wada
Rated T+
In Shops: Jul 26, 2017
SRP: $3.99

• Iceman heads home to visit his folks! But they aren’t too pleased with their son’s latest news…
• And to make matters worse, a gang of revenge-seeking Purifiers comes calling!
• Will Iceman survive this family dinner?
• Or the throwdown with militant mutant-haters that follows?

Marvel Begins to Tease Out Marvel Legacy with New Images

Marvel yesterday promised news today that would “change the comic industry” and so far we’re getting that in the form of covers for their Marvel Legacy initiative which, much like DC Comics’ Rebirth, looks to envigorate the Marvel line by honoring the past while setting up the future as well. It will also return some series to their original numbering.

Marvel Legacy is set to kick off with a 50-page one shot by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic.

The covers below harken back to classic covers and stories in hopes of reminding individuals why they should make theirs Marvel.

Images released so far are:

  • Incredible Hulk: Mike Deodato
  • America: Benjamin Caldwell
  • X-Men: Blue: David Lopez
  • Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur: Felipe Smith
  • Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows: Khary Randolph
  • Astonishing X-Men: John Cassaday
  • Iceman: Michael Ryan
  • The Invincible Iron Man: Alan Davis
  • Luke Cage: Dave Johnson
  • Old Man Logan: Cameron Stewart
  • Secret Warriors: Dave Johnson

Expect more throughout the day.

 

Review: Iceman #2

In Iceman #2, Bobby survives an awkward Blackbird ride with his ex-girlfriend Kitty Pryde on a mission to save a power/technology altering powered mutant named Zachary from an angry mob outside a big box store. What he doesn’t survive is the presence of fill-in artists Edgar Salazar, Ibraim Roberson, and Ed Tadeo, who pinch hit for Alessandro Vitti after a single issue. Writer Sina Grace gets the highly awkward, yet very personal relationship between Kitty and Iceman along with his lack of seriousness, but is hamstrung by awful art. His jokes and dialogue land, but the art is stiff and forced. However, Rachelle Rosenberg uses varying tones of white to make it look like the angry mob is actually brushing ice and snow off their clothes.

For the second straight issue, Grace shows that he’s not concerned with continuity heavy epics or overarching plots. He tells simple standalone superhero stories that act as a vessel for him to explore coming out as an adult man. The main conflict of Iceman #2 isn’t rescuing Zachary from the suburban equivalent of peasants with pitchforks, but Kitty getting angry at Iceman for not telling her that he came out as gay. Sure, she’s been in space with the Guardians of the Galaxy for some time, but she had to find out from Goldballs.

When they aren’t bickering on the battlefield, Kitty is quite supportive of Iceman and says that he should talk to someone about what he’s going through instead of hiding his feelings beneath dad jokes and ice puns. Her suggestion is his parents, which opens up a whole can of worms about levels of supportiveness for families and their LGBTQ children. Kitty’s advice is sound, but a little contradictory of the first issue where Iceman considers the X-Men to be his family, and he shows an easy rapport in early scenes where he banters with Colossus and Storm while walking down the halls of the Xavier school for his mission. Even though editorial probably wouldn’t condone, Grace also misses an opportunity to explore Kitty Pryde’s bisexuality that has been hinted at by her creator, Chris Claremont, but has yet to be fully shown on the page. This is partially due to Jim Shooter’s homophobic editorial policies during the 1980s when she was introduced.

Some iffiness aside, Sina Grace definitely understands the character of Iceman and slowly digs into this transitional period in his life while not neglecting Bobby’s sense of humor and fun even at inopportune times. However, this tone isn’t matched in the art by Edgar Salazar, Ibraim Roberson, and Ed Tadeo in what I’m tempted to call a phone-in job. Both Kitty and Iceman have visually interesting powers, and Rachelle Rosenberg even uses stronger colors to show Zachary’s energy tampering abilities. However, with the exception of a cute scene featuring ice golems or where Iceman shoulder checks a town dweller, there is no motion or power to their moves. The Blackbird is taking a dive, but it’s just a suspended object and doesn’t feel like the end of the world. And Iceman and Kitty’s faces remain almost the same with slight ticks for fear and embarrassment. A biggish reveal of Kitty being Iceman’s co-pilots falls flat thanks to the rictus where her face should be. Salazar and Roberson look like they’re going for a 90s vibe with their figure, and there’s nothing wrong with nostalgia, but this doesn’t work with the sleeker uniform designs and Rosenberg’s color schemes. Both the scenes of action and conversation aren’t drawn well so there is no relief from generic faces or stiff poses although Salazar and Roberson are much better gesture artists than facial.

Written by a talented gay writer like Sina Grace, who isn’t afraid to unpack the messiness of Iceman’s coming out and personality while still letting him pose for selfies mid-battle, Iceman should be one of Marvel’s more compelling books. However, with its generic and uninspiring depiction of some of the flashiest (and soapiest) superheroes ever, Iceman pales in comparison to books that have a more distinct visual identity like America, Marvel’s other book with an LGBTQ lead.

Story: Sina Grace Pencils: Edgar Salazar, Ibraim Roberson
Inks: Ed Tadeo, Ibraim Roberson Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg

Story: 8.0 Art: 5.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Alex

Top Pick: God Country #6 (Image) – A sleeper hit for me, I didn’t start reading this until the 4th issue had come out, and I was struck by the stark brilliance of the comic. Everything about this issue is a joy to experience; Emmett Quinlan’s attitude embodies the best of humanity’s stubborn refusal to quit, and then the creative team produce a wonderfully written and drawn issue each month.

All-Star Batman #11 (DC Comics) – I’ve made no secret of the fact I’m a Scott Snyder fan… but I loved the previous issue. I can’t wait to read this, especially with Snyder delving back into Alfred’s past.

Rapture #2 (Valiant) – This is a bit of a cheat because I’ve already read the review copy and know I like it, but I’m excited to get my hands on a physical copy to check out the gorgeous artwork.

The Chair #1 (Alterna) – I have no idea what this is about.. but it’s a dollar. Every other one of Alterna’s newsprint comics has been more than worth the money, so I see no reason for this to be any different.

 

Shay

It’s a great week to be comic book lover, so many awesome titles that this almost became a top ten list. If you’re lucky you can finish them off, if you’re not , then you’ll have more than enough to keep you occupied next weekend as you gear up for the long beach (or camping) holiday weekend.

Harley Quinn #22 (DC Comics) – Poison Ivy is back and I’m looking forward to this dynamic duo getting their friendship ( or something else) back on track.

Batwoman #4 (DC Comics) – Alas, the end of the current arc is here and it’s looking like it’s going to bring up more questions about Batwoman’s origins and give us an interesting bad guy to learn more about in the next arc.

The X-Files: Origins – Dog Days of Summer #1 (IDW Publishing) – The truth is out there and teenage Mulder and Scully are going to find it. I can legit here the theme song in my head.

Crosswinds #1 (Image) – Cat Staggs and Gail Simone have teamed give us what I’m sure will be a true gift from the comic gods!

America #4 (Marvel) – Mardrimar is revealed, the Ultimates might be getting the band together and America gets a blast from the past that reminds her that she doesn’t always get it right.

Luke Cage #2 (Marvel) – Luke’s in New Orleans making new friends ,dealing with enemies and getting even closer to the truth or Dr. Burstein.

Bill & Ted Save the Universe #1 (BOOM! Studios) – I’m here for it!

Brik TP (Oni Press) – The series I miss the most is back in it’s very own trade paperback. Nothing new but, it’s nice seeing it in one place so I can revisit the things that made me fall in love with it , as I pine for some new issues.

 

Paul

Top Pick: Super Sons #5 (DC Comics) – This has been a great book from the start. Great action, I love the banter between Robin and Superboy and the art is great. I couldn’t ask for anything more from a superhero book. You really should be reading this.

Iceman #2 (Marvel) – I really enjoyed the first issue of Iceman’s solo series. It really gave new readers a glimpse into the character’s past, and gave us veterans a starting point to see where Bobby is going and how he is changing. It was a good mix of action and insight into the character and I hope it carries on in this second issue.

Secret Empire: Underground #1 (Marvel) – This event, like many of Marvel’s past events, has been a real let down. Aside from the fact that Marvel turned Steve Rogers into the fascist leader of Hydra and it seems Hydra’s reach didn’t take long at all to take hold, the event has just been boring and has induced many eye rolls, at least from this reader. But, I have been enjoying the tie in series more then the main event and this book has me excited. We saw this team in action in Secret Empire #4 and I was totally into all of it. I love the line up and their agenda and I’m really looking forward to seeing more from them. And to be honest, anything with Mockingbird in it is a must read for me.

W.M.D. Weapons of Mutant Destruction #1 (Marvel) – The new Weapon X series has been so-so; nothing terribly exciting except for this new mysterious Weapon X project that seems to be hunting down mutants instead of turning them into weapons. But after issue 4, we now have a better understanding of their why after finding out who is pulling the strings. But Old Man Logan and team are on their way for a little payback, so I’m excited to see how all this is going to explode…and if the cover to W.M.D #1 is any indication, it is going to explode big time!

 

Brett

Top Pick: Peter Parker: Spectacular Spider-Man #1 (Marvel) – Chip Zdarsky takes on Spider-Man and boy am I looking forward to this one. Zdarsky’s humor should fit really well with the classic Spider-Man which was more about the quips and fun. Here’s hoping!

Lobo/Road Runner Special #1 and Wonder Woman/Tasmanian Devil #1 (DC Comics) – The first two series that mashed up DC characters with Looney Tunes were a lot of fun and I can’t wait to read the fun that’ll be these two issues.

Solarman #3 (Scout Comics) – It’s been a long time coming, but I’m still looking forward to this issue which feels like the predecessor in some ways to Lion Forge’s Catalyst line.

Spencer and Locke #3 (Action Lab: Danger Zone) – A great combination of concepts for a solid noir series with a twist.

Victor Lavalle’s Destroyer #2 (BOOM! Studios) – A new take on the classic Frankenstein story. The first issue was good and I can’t wait to see where this series goes.

Around the Tubes

It was new comic book day yesterday. What’d folks get? What’d you like? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments. While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Around the Tubes

Derry Now – Nerve Centre develops new graphic novel and animation on the Battle of Messines – This is pretty cool.

King 5 – Can you draw? City wants artists for graphic novel about power plant – A chance to make some money doing a graphic novel!

CBR – TNT’s Snowpiercer Pilot Adds Jennifer Connelly in Lead Role – Can’t wait for this show.

ICv2 – Wizard World’s Con Gross Profit Margin Drops from 41% to 9% – That can’t be good.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Newsarama – Batman #24

Newsarama – Iceman #1

Talking Comics – Night Owl Society #3

Newsarama – Ravina the Witch

Newsarama – Star Wars: Darth Vader #1

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