Tag Archives: sina grace

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: 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

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?

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: Nothing Lasts Forever

NothingLastsForever-1Reading Nothing Lasts Forever is like sitting across writer/artist Sina Grace at a table at one of the coffee shops in L.A. that he frequents and watching him slowly pull his still-beating heart out of his chest and show it to you with Jenny Lewis playing in the background. On that creepy, visceral note, this is Grace’s third graphic memoir after the very relatable ode to retail hell Not My Bag and the relationship/pop culture-driven Self-ObsessedNothing Lasts Forever is written and drawn like it’s a literal page in Grace’s sketch journal. It’s rough (The lettering is sometimes hard to make out in a digital copy.) , but it’s an unfiltered look at his relationship to Sina’s comics work, love life, the death of his grandmother, his battle with achalasia, global politics, and much more. (For the purpose of this review Sina is the character in the story, and Grace is the creator behind it.)

Just like Just My Bag and Self-Obsessed , Nothing Lasts Forever is relatable to me as a queer man, who is adjacent to the comics industry even though I don’t write, draw, color or letter them. Writing and drawing is therapeutic for Sina, but he doesn’t know what he should write and draw about. Throughout the comic, Sina has conversations with friends, fellow creators, and editors about projects, or whether he should do monthly comics or standalone works like Self-Obsessed. He likes doing autobiographical work, but also is a fan of doing genre stuff. This push and pull is one of the secondary sources of conflict throughout the graphic novel. Nothing Lasts Forever also features the first time I’ve seen a comic journalist interview a creator in a comic book. It’s kind of reassuring to know that the writers and artists I interview might be just as nervous as me about their answers…

One of the most powerful and amusing images in Nothing Lasts Forever was Grace making his exes into doo-dads (It’s a Southern thing, I swear.) , or “baubles” as he calls them. It’s start out about a funny line about boys being toys that Sina tells Amber and then turns into a profound, vulnerable page about Sina having feelings for all the men that have come into his life romantically and sexually. They each brought him NLFInteriorsome happiness for a time and then became someone else’s toy. I feel similarly about the men and women that have come into my life. Sometimes, I’ll have vibes about someone I dated or kissed years ago, feel kind of wistful about it but then cherish the time we spent together. Sina Grace nails that exact emotion throughout Nothing Lasts Forever when he discusses and describes relationships.

Structurally, Nothing Lasts Forever skips through time and place in a way that makes a Timelord look like a tortoise. It’ll go from a story about Sina having a crush on his 9th grade teacher to a pitch meeting with Image or a musing about his grandmother. Grace’s art style shifts and swerves too. On an artistic level, one thing that I loved about Nothing Lasts Forever was how the look of Grace’s art and the type of his color palette matched his feelings about each vignette that makes up his comic.

Grace can do fantasy/horror style art, caricatures, or rich, representational work like when Grace depicts Sina’s pitch for He and Him, an unrealized romance graphic novel not-so-subtly based on his relationship with his ex, Cash. One of his good friends, writer Amber Benson, makes several appearances, and Grace colors her with gorgeous pinks and blue that makes her memorable in a book full of faces. (And dicks depending on the story.) Grace uses wispier linework in a flashback about having a crush on his teacher and switches to stark black and white when he really starts to open up about his depression. There’s a touch of primal horror to these pages as Grace fits his feelings and thoughts into narrative form.

Even though it’s a collection of tenuously connected autobiographical shorts instead of a straight (*chuckles*) narrative like Craig Thompson’s Blankets or Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, Nothing Lasts Forever is an enjoyable and emotionally resonant read. There are many genres in Sina Grace’s approach to graphic memoir , including gag strips, portrait pieces, some metafiction (Li’l Depressed Boy makes several, key cameos, and Erik Larsen appears as his creation, Savage Dragon.), and a fun queer take on the fantasy/Magical Girl genre that gets very personal very quickly.

In Nothing Lasts Forever, Sina Grace goes into depth about his depression, his painful struggle with a disease that made it virtually impossible for him to keep down food, and his true feelings about the men he’s dated and slept with. And he does it all in a varied visual style and with his sense of humor intact. I won’t stop smiling and laughing at the all the forms that Sina takes in the comic like some kind of cartoonist Mystique going from a bad mushroom trip to being sad in the shower to even becoming Sailor Moon herself.

Story: Sina Grace Art: Sina Grace
Story: 8.9  Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.7  Recommendation: Buy

Image 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

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