“Are you Sure?” (Iceman #5 Comic Review)

Iceman #5

 

Writer: Sina Grace

Artist: Alessandro Vitti

Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg

Cover Artist: Marco D’Alfonso

Iceman, Bobby Drake has just come out to his parents. A surprise visit by Juggernaut in Central Park suddenly seems like a better option!

What you’ll find out: This issue continues directly from the last issue, only skipping a beat to introduce the Juggernaut as the antagonist of the story. He’s in Central Park, and we can only guess why. But he’s not the MAIN antagonist. William and Madeline Drake are not taking the news that their son is gay very well, and that is putting it mildly. Remarks like “Are you sure?” and “There aren’t any gay’s on my side of the family. Muties and queers, they must come from you”. But the coup de grace of the opening salvo on Bobby is “Our son’s dead. The Iceman wins.” It’s at this point that ex-girlfriend, teammate, and friend Kitty Pryde has decided she has witnessed enough and leaves the room. Quentin Quire and Idie Okonkwo are walking by and overhear Bobby’s conversation with his parents just as Madeline asks her son if he has ever “been” with any of his ex-girlfriends. WHen Quentin makes a snide comment, Iceman quickly raises an ice-wall keeping the eve’s droppers out. Outside, Kitty is with students when a carousel horse comes crashing down from the sky, narrowly missing Evan Sabahnur. In the middle of the argument, Kitty phases in, announcing the threat of Juggernaut heading their way. At first, she asks Bobby and his parents to remain so that Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Prestige can steer him away. Bobby refuses and states that Iceman can do it. He needs to get away from his parents and kicking some Juggernaut butt seems like a reprieve.

When Bobby arrives at the site where Juggernaut has appeared, he sends his Ice-Men to help innocent bystanders out of the area while directly attacking Juggernaut. He discovers that Juggernaut is looking for the time-displaced, young original five X-Men (who they fought in X-Men Blue #1). Iceman informs him that they are in Madripoor, knowing full well he can subdue his foe. William and Madeline decide to leave while Bobby is out battling Juggernaut. Kitty stops them with the letter Bobby had written to them, but had yet to mail. As the letter is being read, we witness the battle in Central Park between Iceman and Juggernaut. By the time the letter has finished being read, Juggernaut has Iceman in a bear-hug/death grip, crushing him until there’s nothing left but mist. Believing he killed Iceman, Juggernaut is surprised to see an ice-winged, Iceman flying above him. With Juggernaut stuck at the top, Iceman builds a column of ice, up higher and higher, then breaks off the top and sends it flying into the Atlantic. He assures Juggernaut his Ice-Men will swim him to S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. Having soundly defeated the Unstoppable, Bobby returns to the mansion to find his father sitting on a bench, with the letter in hand, waiting for him. His mother has left, having had “enough for the day”. William reveals that Kitty gave them the letter. He also remarks that Bobby has kept a lot of feelings inside and that he “gets that from him…the not wanting to talk about stuff” thing. Bobby reveals to his father that he can now turn to vapor, and it scares him. He knows WHY he can do it, something about ice funneling in his body, but he doesn’t know how to return from that form easily. He then tells his father that sometimes he thinks about disappearing and being nothing. As Bobby continues on about his new ability, his father announces, “Bobby…I love you. Nothing changes that.” and with William walking away, Bobby responds, “I love you…too.”

What worked for me and what didn’t: When I read this the first time, I immediately went to the letters page. There’s a very nice opening from writer Sina Grace explaining the journey he wanted to take Iceman on with this first arc, and he knew that Iceman coming out to his parents would be at the end of this story. He also intentionally added Juggernaut to the mix as the ultimate metaphor for dealing with the impossible. The transposition of showing the battle with Juggernaut, while the letter is being read, works brilliantly here. Mr. Grace reveals that much of the dialogue and scenes were taken right from his own experiences or those of close friends. This only cemented what I felt while reading this issue. It was very authentic. I too, have my own coming-out story and I’ve had many close friends with similar tales. It’s not always great! And sad to say, it can get worse. This is the reason I couldn’t wait to read the letters page, as I anticipated a note from the writer about this significant issue. This story felt very personal. We’ve seen Bobby slowly work his way to revealing his homosexuality to his parents since issue #1. Bobby has been going at his own pace, testing the waters with friends and associates and ex-girlfriends before having “the talk” with his parents. Then he decides to write them a letter after failed attempts to talk to them. When they unexpectedly arrive at the mansion, he literally blurts out that he’s gay. After the big reveal, like his newfound power of turning to vapor, how does he get back? Now that they know he’s gay, what now? Since neither side can communicate effectively, it goes south.  William knows his son is just like him, made more apparent after reading his son’s letter. And I think he sees the strength his son has, and how hard it must have been to write the letter much less reveal it to their faces. Just as it took Bobby some time to come out to his parents, so too will it take time for them to accept it. Hearing that his father loves him, is a step in the right direction. I have to say, I got a bit teary-eyed with some of the dialogue. It hits home.

There was some criticism among fans at the beginning of the series that Iceman should be a lot more powerful and able to handle Purifiers and the like. But as noted, Bobby is well aware and in control of his abilities more than ever and they are growing. This has only been possible due to his coming to terms with himself. As Bobby is set free, so too is the Iceman.

Alessandro Vitti returns to art duties for this issue. I’ve criticised his work in past issues of Iceman, and I maintain those feelings: Bobby’s parents faces look more like Mojo or the Shadow King. His art style is very thick lined,  and a bit too heavy in the dramatic scenes and during the battle scenes, I was left wanting. There is a double page spread that feels wasted, if not for the excellent script. I just don’t feel his style is visually exciting, and I think with a character like Iceman, it’s important to have that in the artist.

I’ve gotten spoiled with Kevin Wada’s covers and he is missed this issue. however, I’m familiar with this issue’s cover artist Marco D’Alfonso’s work and would have loved it if he had full art duties this issue.

 

Rating 9.5/10

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