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Bobby Drake, Iceman and founding X-Man, has his own solo series. When his past self was brought to the present (don’t ask), Bobby struggled with an unexplored facet of his personality: he’s gay. In his own words, Iceman never discussed his sexuality because he didn’t want the challenge of being gay and a mutant. And who can blame him? Defending a world that hates and fears you is hard enough.
But it’s 2017, dammit, and this series by Sina Grace with pencils by Edgar Salazar and Ibraim Roberson, inks by Ed Tadeo and Roberson, and colors from Rachelle Rosenberg, explores the character with the depth he deserves. Now an instructor at the new Xavier Institute, Iceman juggles teaching, heroics, and a budding exploration of who he is.
In this issue, a mission to rescue a young new mutant with his ex-girlfriend Kitty Pride turns into a therapy session. With an angry mob on their tail, Kitty and Iceman have a heart to heart that makes for great character moments, even though the art feels a little rushed. Let’s take an inventory of ice-quips and unpack what else works in this issue.
Iceman is known for jokes. Through all the teams he’s been part of, his role as comic relief rarely falters. This solo series is no different, but with the additional layer of emotional turmoil there’s great opportunity for character growth. At first I had doubts about a solo Iceman series. As a character who always appears in team books, will he have enough to do to sustain his own book? The answer is a grateful yes.
Sina Grace does great work balancing the personal uncertainty Iceman endures with plenty of mutant heroics to move things forward. The whole “rescue of the week” from just an ordinary angry mob is a nice reminder that the X-Men exist to protect their kind first and foremost. Giant robots and extra-dimensional aliens are great, but their day to day will always be helping kids who discover they’re different.
Which is great fun! “Ice to meet you” joke aside, Bobby is still full of the sort of snark that’s made him a fan favorite. In rescuing Zachary, the new mutant who makes electronics overload, he jokes “I’m really hoping you don’t turn into a bad guy after all this.”
Lastly there’s the character work between Kitty and Iceman. In a quiet moment while they hide behind an ice wall, she laments how she was the last to find out Bobby is gay and that they haven’t had a moment to talk about it. In his defense; she was in space. It comes off a little selfish at first, but as always, Kitty means well and wants him to know that his team and his family will always be there for him. Well paced and self contained, the writing for this series shows great promise for further “cool” adventures. Get it? Cool?! No? You guys are no fun.
I give the art for this series a solid B. Iceman is a character with huge possibility in depicting his powers, and for the most part they take advantage of that. An ice luge for their crashing jet, walls to keep out the mob, and an army of snow golems are just a few fun portrayals that Salazar, Roberson, Tadeo, and Rosenberg employ. Conversely, but with just as much effectiveness, they keep Bobby out of his ice-form for several panels, particularly when having tough conversations with Kitty.
This all works well to balance the personal with the action plots, but cramming in both makes for some overstuffed panels. The first mob scene in particular gets broken up so much that Kitty’s entreaty to the angry townspeople lacks weight. Similarly, their escape seems without urgency as the mob fades from view.
Still, much of the action comes together well when it needs to, which is laudable. I doubt Iceman’s “Chill Vibes!” hashtag will take off (as Kitty notes, “half your jokes actually land”) but really enjoy this installment in his solo adventures. Slide into Downtown Comics this week to pick up the new issue and more!