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Review: Iceman #7

Iceman #7 has Bobby making an Ice-kaiju to use in battle with his old Champions teammates and also has many character defining moments for him. Writer Sina Grace combines the quick banter and pitched fights of old school superhero team fights with some relationship bits like Iceman going a little further in a sexy way with Judah and chatting with the Champions about his overcompensating, macho ways back in the day at a Russian bakery. Robert Gill’s art is serviceable, and he does something interesting things with spacing like making the new X-Men headquarters in Central Park seemed very crowded compared to Judah and Bobby’s nightly walks in L.A. Rachelle Rosenberg’s colors are much the same way even though she makes Bobby’s ice powers look extra badass.

Even though the story is chock full of superhero guest stars, Grace and Gill manage to chisel out an image of Bobby as a hero and man. Iceman is comfortable in team settings, making the jokes, and teaching the younger heroes, but he also wants to strike out on his own, date a new cute guy, and knows that the X-Men are in capable hands. The “villain” in this issue are special effects designers who are hoping to impress a Hollywood studio with their almost lifelike Sentinel replicas. Some heroes would throw these women in jail or in The Raft or somewhere, but Bobby realizes their mechanical talents and desperateness to be significant somewhere and helps find them professor jobs. He can make dad jokes and be honest, empathetic, self-aware, and sometimes impulsive like the end of this issue.

Even though the Champions don’t have their own movie or TV show, like the X-Men, Avengers, or even the New Warriors, Robert Gill and Rachelle Rosenberg deliver on a monster setpiece to open Iceman #7 and cash in on the promise of last issue’s cliffhanger. Bobby displays so much swag, creativity, and leadership in this fight and basically wants to get it over with so he can Netflix and chill with his man. Gill also draws some close-ups of Angel because he is sexy and hell and also because he and Iceman have a close relationship. Later, Grace and Gill use him for innuendo and class consciousness purposes when his wingspan can barely fit in Iceman’s New York apartment. Tempting as it maybe to transform Iceman into a slice of life, romance book, Bobby Drake has been a hero since the 1960s (In comic book years.), and he’s not going to stop even if he goes solo for real this time.

It looks like the Champions team-up isn’t going to continue beyond Iceman #7 although Sina Grace did a nice job of using it to set up an L.A. setting, connect Bobby to non-X-Men related parts of the Marvel Universe, and also dig into why he acted like a macho wannabe flirt in older comics. Grace, Gill, and Rosenberg use Ben-Day dot flashbacks from Bronze Age comics to explore and critique Bobby’s toxic masculinity when instead of treating Black Widow like a powerful ally, he hit on her and was immediately cut down to size. However, he has learned his lesson over the years and is starting to come into his own as a gay man. And this whole freedom thing goes into overdrive towards the end of the issue. But not after he roasts each and every X-Man before movie night.

Iceman #7 is a real turning point issue for the series in both sexy and non-sexy ways as Bobby Drake shows that he can do both the self-realization and transforming his body into Godzilla ice shapes thing. Also, it’s nice to have the same artist on two (not so) straight issues.

 

Story: Sina Grace Art: Robert Gill Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 8.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Power Pack #63

In a twist of fate, four children gained incredible powers. And in a universe full of war-hungry aliens and terrorizing gangsters, they would need them. Thus Power Pack was born! But when an enemy from the past rears its head again, the youngest Power finds herself in a body-snatching nightmare! Big brother Alex better come around – or Katie is toast! A never-before-told adventure comes to light as Katie Power revisits family history!

I know I have a couple Power Pack comics in my massive collection but I can’t think of any that stand out (though I was weirdly obsessed with playing a Power Pack team in Heroclix). Despite the span of decades, Power Pack #63 seems to attempt to put the team back in the spotlight with this one-shot Marvel Legacy comic that acts to not only wrap some things up but also as a way to gauge interest.

Writer Devin Grayson nails the story as it’s told from the perspective of Katie Powers. Recounting a battle and some family history to her teacher, the issue does an excellent job of introducing the team to new readers and also nailing what a story told by someone Katie’s age would be like.

That’s what really stands out about the comic. This isn’t an adult telling a story about some kids, Grayson channels what it’s like for a kid to tell a story including skipping important parts and details, some incorrect grammar, and a stream of consciousness narrative. If I asked a kid to tell a story about superheroes, this might be the result.

There’s also a solid narrative technique with an initial story told by Katie read back by her teacher where her teacher has one thing in mind and Katie has something that’s different. It’s cute and entertaining and the comic has both a throwback sensibility about it while feeling modern at the same time.

Marika Cresta‘s art helps with that throwback sense with a style that feels like it invokes a classic look, though the colors by Chris O’Halloran and lettering by Joe Caramagna have a more modern production about them. The kids look like kids and a lot of their personalities are expressed through the art (the comic is from the perspective of Katie so most other characters don’t get much of a focus).

This was an issue I was really intrigued to read and the results are fun and entertaining. The “voice” captured by Grayson is impressive and the series has me wanting to see more of the team in the future. YA is all the rage now and if played smart, the Power Pack could find a whole new audience and life within that genre.

Story: Devin Grayson Art: Marika Cresta Color: Chris O’Halloran Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Mike McKone and Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 7.65 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.60 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Iceman #6

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

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

Marvel Weekly Graphic Novel Review: Star Wars Vol. 5: Yoda’s Secret War

It’s Wednesday which means new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week from Marvel is Star Wars!

Star Wars Vol. 5: Yoda’s Secret War features issues #26-30 and Annual #2 by Jason Aaron, Kelly Thompson, Salvador Larroca, Emilio Laiso, Edgar Delgado, and Rachelle Rosenberg.

Find out about the book and whether you should grab yourself a copy. You can find it in comic stores and book stores now!

Get your copy at comic stores July 5 and book stores July 18. To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Star Wars Vol. 5: Yoda’s Secret War
Amazon or TFAW

 

 

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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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

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

Review: Captain America: Steve Rogers #17

I did my best going into reading Captain America: Steve Rogers #17 with an open mind as I’ve not been impressed with the greater Secret Empire storyline. There’s some good here as it fills in some gaps and answer questions that have been out there like Magneto’s role in Roger’s Nazi Hydra empire, a bit more about the Inhuman internment, and generally Rogers’ justification of it all.

The crux of the story is a sit down interview with Steve Rogers where all questions are on the table except the mass murder he committed in Las Vegas. What follows is a comic that doesn’t quite fit into what’s depicted in other series and generally is a poor attempt at justification in the guise of storytelling. Reported Sally Floyd is chosen to interview Rogers as she also interviewed him during the Civil War (which opens up a who bunch of interesting things with Cap being Hydra then that hasn’t really been explained). She’s given instructions by Dr. Faustus as to not ask about Las Vegas (which also questions why Faustus doesn’t mind control her to not do it).

The resulting comic is a back and forth poor attempt at Frost/Nixon with the reporter acting as a foil for us readers to understand Rogers’ thinking of this all. More jobs are mentioned, national security and safety are brought up, pretty much the usual things that justify fascism and the Hydra take over.

There are some big issues in that Las Vegas is shown as a giant crater in the ground, which contradicts what we saw in Secret Empire #2 with some heroes trying to save survivors. But… details. And for a group that’s all about symbolism and co-opting, why is Cap in green fatigues instead of his uniform?

But, the difficulty of this issue is not just the lack of creativity, it’s the issue it feels like Nick Spencer is attempting to justify the story to us the reader with some subtle jabs along the ways to his “haters.” It’s no secret there’s been lots of criticism, from this site included, and there’s been a willingness of comic readers and fans to speak up about the tone deafness of it all. Unfortunately, like he did in Captain America: Sam Wilson, Spencer feels like he has taken that real world conversation and moved it to the page spoken through Captain America, again making it apparent that the characters are nothing but mouthpieces for him as opposed to his attempting to properly channel the character themselves.

If a bland story wasn’t enough of a reason to skip this issue, the are by Andres Guinaldo and Ramon Bachs with colors by Rachelle Rosenberg is stilted and just odd at times. Rogers doesn’t look like Rogers and short cuts of lack of detail are too often the case and too hard to ignore. The comic looks and feels like a second tier event spin off comic which too often have questionable art and feel like cash ins. What makes it all worse is there are moments when the art is great, the above is an example (I like how it’s framed).

With art that’s just not up to par and a story that feels like a writer attempting to justify an entire event, Captain America: Steve Rogers #17 falls flat in so many ways. It’s another example of a poorly thought out event that’s being driven in odd ways with mixed messages. An issue that gives a little more depth feels more like a Twitter rant justifying its own existence.

Story: Nick Spencer Art: Andres Guinaldo and Ramon Bachs Color: Rachelle Rosenberg
Story: 5.0 Art: 5.0 Overall: 5.0 Recommendation: Pass

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