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