Iceman is back from writer Sina Grace with new series artist Nathan Stockman and colorist Federico Blee. In the first issue of the new series, Grace and Stockman indulge in a little team-up action (and jog down memory lane for X-Men fans of the late 1980s) as Iceman and Bishop work together to prevent a new mutant massacre of the Morlocks. They have a really quirky dynamic with Bishop playing the serious focused on several possible futures, and Iceman being the one with the bad jokes and clunky Kanye references. However, Grace gives Bobby a little more self-awareness than the previous volume where he was just coming into his own as both a gay man and omega level mutant and trying to balance coming out to his parents and his first real boyfriend. In Iceman #1, he’s still developing as a person, but is a little more self-assured, which makes the book a little more fun.
Speaking of fun, Iceman #1 has some seriously action-packed setpieces courtesy of Nathan Stockman and Federico Blee beginning with a literal cold open where Bobby saves an old lady from a homophobic bad guy in Hell’s Kitchen while trying to meet a cute guy. (Oops, I have to put a dollar in the clunky dad joke jar.) One thing I love about heroes like Spider-Man is the intersection between their personal life, especially romance, and superhero action, and Grace and Stockman really get that dynamic with a gay superhero. It’s also seriously empowering to see a queer superhero kick a homophobic bad dude’s ass by completely encasing him in ice. And as a humorous cherry on top, pulling out an ice “glass” slipper on the dance floor made me laugh and cringe. Northstar really needs to give him dating lessons. This opening sequence really sets the tone for the first issue with Grace and Stockman, who seamlessly transition from fight scene to conversation without losing momentum handling everything from a main villain reveal to a text message conversation between Bobby and Kitty with style and grace.
Iceman #1 shows again why having an actual gay writer on an X-Book makes the X-Men as LGBTQ people more nuanced and powerful. In this case, there is the Morlocks. Sina Grace uses them as a metaphor for LGBTQ folks who don’t want to pass as straight or assimilate into a patriarchal, heteronormative society. That’s totally cool as Bobby begins to understand after a short conversation about why they don’t join the revolving door of the Xavier School. I also like how Grace refers to the Morlocks home as a “safe space” instead of creepy tunnels or whatever like previous writers.
However, in the context of the story, the Morlocks’ separatism and non-conformity leads to them being targeted by Mr. Sinister and the Marauders, who think they are hampering upward mutant mobility. At best, they’re the Marvel Universe version of Log Cabin Republicans, and at worse, they’re the “no fats, no femmes” guys on Grindr. To give them a little more real world relevance, Grace even makes the new look Marauders organize via the not so nice parts of the Internet like real hate groups. And Mr. Sinister is kind of a perfect villain for Bobby because he’s all about finding the perfect genetic potential, which Bobby kind of is as an ice golem creating omega level mutant.
Just like its protagonist at times, Iceman #1 is a highly confident start to Sina Grace, Nathan Stockman, and Federico Blee’s new series. It gives Bobby both a personal life as well as integrating him into the X-Men as a team, has well laid out action, and the most groan-worthy of dad jokes plus quirky banter between him and Bishop. As an added bonus, Grace writes the Morlocks with respect and empathy transforming them into badasses, who fight for their home and friends and won’t conform to society’s standards instead of empty cannon fodder like in the original “Mutant Massacre” story.
Story: Sina Grace Art: Nathan Stockman
Colors: Federico Blee Letters: Joe Sabino
Story: 8.8 Art: 8.2 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy
Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review