Marvel Comics’ Gay Iceman Cometh
It’s only fitting Marvel Comics releases its brand-new ongoing solo series starring its gay mutant hero Iceman in June. Since June is LGBTQ Pride Month — for everyone but the current administration — the recently out Iceman will celebrate with not one but two brand new issues. This Wednesday marks the triumphant arrival of issue 1, followed by issue 2 on June 21.
For those behind on their current queer superheroes, take note: Iceman, real name Bobby (Robert or “Bobert for the right guy,” as he jokes in issue 1) Drake was one of the founding members of the X-Men, a band of mutant heroes who debuted over 50 years ago in 1963’s X-Men #1. As a hero, he’s been in various comic book superhero teams, cartoon series — most memorably in the classic '80’s Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends — and movies, being a key character in the first three live-action installments of the film franchise.
Iceman came out officially two years ago in Uncanny X-Men #600, along with a younger version of himself who’s currently stuck in our present timeline. (The X-Men do love them some time-hopping characters.) While the younger Iceman is dating a sexy male Inhuman, the older Iceman signs up for a dating app in the first issue.
The new series focuses on the older Bobby Drake, still figuring out his new life as an out queer superhero/teacher/mutant/son/ex/friend. The comic book — The Advocate was lucky enough to read an advance preview of both June releases — is a fun, thoughtful, and deeper than expected exploration of what it means to live your life once you’ve successfully come out of the closet as well as how coming out affects those around you. Issue 2, in fact, features a touching and honest exchange from Bobby’s ex, the popular X-Men character Kitty Pryde.
Written by out writer and artist Sina Grace, with eye-grabbing covers by out artist Kevin Wada, and edited by out Marvel Comics editor Daniel Ketchum, Iceman is a comic that proudly balances LGBTQ issues, humorous (and occasionally dorky on purpose) one-liners, superhero action, and real human pathos.
The Advocate was thrilled to take a moment of writer Sina Grace’s time to explore all things Iceman. Plus, exclusive an exclusive peek into issue 2!
The Advocate: Iceman starring in his first ongoing series as an openly queer male character seems monumental for a Marvel Comics. Do you feel pressure to "get it right" as a queer writer?
Grace: The editor on Iceman is also gay, and that takes a lot of weight off my shoulders in terms of “getting it right.” We have lots of conversations about the series’ implications in terms of “the gay stuff,” and there have been hours dedicated to discussing the best story to tell for all readers: long-term X-fans who’d rather things stay as a metaphor, the out ‘n’ proud folks waving their flags in San Francisco, and the quiet reader just figuring stuff out in the middle of Nowhere, America. I feel like we struck a decent balance.
How would you describe Iceman? Iceman is a series following the funniest and most powerful of the original five X-Men as he finally makes time for himself. There’s a time-displaced younger version of Iceman on another team, and it’s really forced Bobby Drake to examine himself and explore the possibilities that come when he stops cracking wise and actually opens up a bit. He’s still a teacher and living with the rest of the X-Men in Central Park, but this series shows him taking on his own adventures, and readers will also get a deeper peek into his family life.
Since Iceman is single, is he also looking to mingle? The young Iceman is currently dating an Inhuman, so will we see someone special in classic Iceman's life? Iceman is definitely looking for a plus one! We show him struggling with an internet dating profile on the very first page. Just ’cuz he says he’s ready, I don’t think he’s actually quite going to take the plunge.
Are you hoping to bring a balance to the book, where the superhero element is able to coexist with a romance aspect? Bobby’s got a long journey ahead of him as a superhero, and he’s gotta take care of a few things in his noggin before he can start juggling the “I’ve got a date!” lewk right as a bad guy barges in to rob a bank. He’s dealing with some Purifier-related antics on and off in the first few issues, then some bigger, badder stuff is gonna occupy his time after that. He’s like Buffy in that his cookies are still baking, but that’s not to say he isn’t interested in letting people try some cookie dough in the meantime.
For queer readers, from a scale of (the now canceled) Real O'Neals to the classic series Queer as Folk, how gay is Iceman going to be? Dang! I wish I could put this book on that scale, but where do you place the story of a 30-something Omega-level mutant who can manipulate ice by freezing water vapor and is grappling with the fact that he just came out, but his time-displaced younger self already has a wicked hot boyfriend? I don’t know that a story like this has quite been done, so it’s sort of its own thing!
Are you concerned about drawing in straight readers as well? I think the X-Men fans who believe the team to be an inclusive group fighting for what’s right will vibe with the book, whether they’re gay straight or bi, lesbian transgender life (sings more Gaga to self). If someone came up to me and called this a gay book, I’d be like: “Whatever, it’s still fun as $#*%, has some amazing super hero action sequences, and tells a kick-ass story.”
Aside from Kitty in issue 2, will we see any more of Iceman's exes? Like Polaris or Opal? The other ladies of Bobby’s past will be addressed at the beginning of issue three, and the execution still has me chuckling, which is good because that issue gets very serious, very fast.
Will we see some of the X-Men's merry queer mutants pop up? Like Northstar, Anole, or Bling? I think I’ve said somewhere already that fans can expect Northstar to pop up in the series. That’s really all I’m allowed to dish on — fans will have to check out the series to find out!
Give us some scoop, what can we look forward to in the first six issues of the series? I’m such a fan of keeping the reading experience pure and spoiler-free, but I gotta give you some skinny! A classic clawed character from X-Men’s catalog will be dropping by towards the second half of the first arc (editor’s note: Marvel has revealed that Wolverine’s formerly deceased bisexual son Daken return in August’s issue 4).
And finally, tell us about your new Image Comics graphic novel — also on sale this Wednesday. Nothing Lasts Forever is a memoir that covers my life when I was in a really bad spot emotionally and then got hit with a disorder that left me 20 pounds underweight. It kind of asks what’s a gay man to do when he’s reached his career goals, doesn’t want kids, and is unsure of love? Very serious, but very touching.