Iceman writer reveals what's in store for the Marvel hero in his first solo series
Bobby Drake (a.k.a. Iceman) has been around 54 years. He was one of the founding members of the X-Men back when the team first made their debut in 1963, and he’s since become a fan favorite thanks to his icy cool powers and hilariously cheesy sense of humor.
And now, this particular X-Man is finally getting a chance to shine in what is his first ever solo series (part of Marvel’s ResurrXion). That’s not the only first the Marvel hero will be facing in the Sina Grace-penned, Alessandro Vitti-illustrated comic, though. Bobby will also be experiencing life as a newly out gay man.
The hero came out of the closet two years ago in an issue of All-New X-Men, which saw the younger version of the character come to terms with his sexuality — something his adult-self later confirmed, before then coming out himself. Since then, both versions of Iceman have existed within the same universe. But while the younger Bobby Drake has become more confident in his sexuality — even getting himself an Inhuman boyfriend — the older Bobby has never quite had the chance to unpack what it means to live life openly gay, something Grace and Vitti’s series is looking to do.
“When I got the gig, I reached out to [Uncanny X-Force writer] Rick Remender for advice, and he basically told me: if it’s not the end of the world for both characters in the fight, it’s not a story worth telling,” explains Grace of his approach to the series. “I’ve been applying that to every single issue of this book. If the fans like what they see and keep picking the book up, I’ve got some rad stuff in store for Bobby Drake. I promise no end to dad jokes, and if I had my druthers, this series has the potential to go on for several years.”
With Iceman issues 1 and 2 now available, EW caught up with Grace to discuss what’s coming up for everyone’s favorite ice-wielding hero. Also, check out exclusive pages from issue 3.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: A lot of readers may be most familiar with Bobby from his depiction in the X-Men movies. Is that something you were thinking about as you were approaching writing this series?
GRACE: If I’m being honest, I totally spaced out about the significance of Bryan Singer’s take on Bobby in X2. The main scene I remember from those earlier movies was Bobby creating a little ice flower when he was hitting on Rogue? That stuck with me: how this man is capable of creating a thing of beauty with a hard, cold power.
What can we expect to see Iceman get up to in the next couple of issues?
The series is starting off with what seems like a handful of standalone stories, but they begin to connect right around issue 4 when readers get to see Daken return to the X-books in all his badass sexy glory. Bobby will try to work on having a legit relationship with his parents, but bad guys are gonna keep popping up at inopportune moments!
Bobby’s relationship with his parents was a big focus in the first issue. Will we be seeing more of that or will we mostly see him interact with the X-Men or any new friends he might make?
When editorial and I were discussing the arc of the series, from the get-go we agreed that the focus needed to begin with Bobby’s parents. They’re the “big bad” of the first arc, so to speak. In the second issue, Bobby has to work with Kitty Pryde on a mission, and that was maybe the best time I had juggling all of the metaphors. She’s his teammate, ex-girlfriend, colleague, and friend… but they’ve not been alone together in a long time. Readers may be surprised that the central mystery isn’t a build-up to a hero quest, but it all comes together beautifully by the end of issue five. Plus: whatever, Bobby has to land a haywire jet onto a superstore rooftop in the first five pages of issue 2 — the action’s OOC TBH.
Younger Bobby is not only around at the moment, but he’s also out and currently, has a boyfriend. How is all that affecting Older Bobby?
Iceman witnessing a younger version of himself living a dream life as an out and proud teen hero is giving him major FOMO. In a lot of ways, the time-displaced Bobby Drake’s existence is what has set Bobby off on this journey to take control of his life. The first arc is bookended with the two interacting, and it has been so much fun writing these two characters who are so similar but have vastly different outlooks. It’s neat to use them to teach each other lessons.
In the first issue we see that Bobby’s jumping into the dating pool. What can you tell me about what’s coming up for him on that front? What does dating look like for an X-Man?
Remember that Buffy episode, “Never Kill a Boy on the First Date?” It’s nothing like that, but it’s fun to think about how much Buffy wanted to escape her responsibilities by dating boys, and Bobby’s doing the complete opposite. He’d rather immerse himself in superhero responsibilities than sort out his emotions, meet dudes, etc., etc. I’m playing the long game with his love life, so readers better stay tuned!
It was a big deal when Bobby came out in the comics, and now his first ever solo series debuts during Pride Month. What does that mean to you as its writer?
I try not to focus on the “relevance” or “importance” of the series, because then whatever I’m writing will be for the press release, and not for the story or the fans. So many Marvel myths are about young kids who have to step up to the task of being brave… I love that Iceman is a message to grown-ups: How can we become our best selves? I just saw Alexi Kaye Campbell’s The Pride here in LA, and it gave me so many feels because it was more than a story about LGBT identity politics. It was about learning to love yourself. That message is so necessary, for everyone. To me, Bobby represents a lot of people who are somewhere in the middle of hiding deep down in the closet, and running around in short-shorts with a huge rainbow flag cape — any little thing could push him deeper in the closet, but the stories are about him rising to the occasion to embrace who he is — not only as a recently out gay male, but as one of the best superheroes in the Marvel Universe.
We see Bobby go up against a Purifier in this first issue. Is that one of the central villains he might be dealing with in this series, or will there be some original creations of yours coming his way?
The Purifiers return in a pretty malicious way in issue 3. By the end of that story, they’ll be thinking twice before coming after Iceman! I’ve been having a lot of fun writing Daken (Wolverine’s sexy and super evil son). Juggernaut’s appearance is gonna be pretty epic (issue 5, true believers!). My favorite villains usually come from the cause-and-effect relationship that superheroes have with taking responsibility for their actions, and that will be coming into play towards the end of the first story arc, and into the second arc. I wish, I wish, I wish I could spill the tea on some upcoming appearances, but readers are gonna have to grab the book to find out!
One thing a lot of people don’t remember about Iceman is that he’s one of the most powerful mutants in existence. What kind of fun are you having playing with his powers?
Writing Iceman’s powers has been the most stressful part of the experience! The possibilities are endless and I get super stuck trying to come up with cool sh– but temper it with what he would actually be doing under the circumstances. In the first issue, he’s in a hospital fighting a Purifier after dealing with his parents, so his head’s not in the game and he can’t do anything too over-the-top because then he’d be risking the safety of the patients, y’know? Mercifully, I am working with the best storytellers in the business, and artist Alessandro Vitti always adds an extra level of “radness” to the action sequences. All that being said, I feel like I’ve found a couple of really neat uses of his powers, and there will be a few revelations about his abilities coming up…
How has it been writing an ongoing X-Men comic compared to your creator-owned work?
When I’m doing creator-owned work, I’m usually trying to answer questions for myself in the hopes that the results are meaningful for readers. At Marvel, I’ve got the exciting challenge of writing for a large audience, with a very clear mission statement: The X-Offices are telling stories about hope and optimism. My editors are incredibly supportive and have on-point notes every issue. Lemme come up with a bad thing to say so you don’t think I’m just drinking the company Kool-Aid… Editorial has a vast universe to manage with continuous moving parts to let me have hour-long phone convos! I don’t trip over the fact that I’m working with a company’s toys in their sandbox, you know? Image Comics is where I go to be DGAF, and Marvel’s where I go to be Brad Bird/ Andrew Stanton-era Pixar.
You can now read the first issue of Iceman for free here using the promo code ICEMAN (as well as the first issue of other X-Men titles). See more details below.