The Ballad of Bobby Drake
Iceman is gay. It’s a fact that Marvel has supported since his younger, time-displaced self was unceremoniously outed by a young Jean Grey in All-New X-Men #40 and only further reinforced when the present day version of Bobby Drake finally came out in Uncanny X-Men #600. Bobby’s coming out story was very controversial back in 2015, not only for changing the sexuality of a well-established character since 1963, but also in the manner in which the story was told. Two years and a universe-shattering event later and he’s finally getting a monthly series. Yes, it’s a bit late, but—just like the new Jean Grey solo series, it’s a story that many fans have eagerly been waiting to read. Marvel has gone all-out on this one: tapping up-and-coming author Sina Grace (Li’l Depressed Boy and Nothing Lasts Forever) to helm the series. But after hearing what Grace has to say in interviews prior to issue #1’s launch, I was certainly eager to get my hands on this comic as a huge X-Men fan and as a queer comic book reader.
“Describe yourself (in 500 words or less):”
Being gay is definitely front and center in issue #1. So is being a mutant. And being both gay and a mutant around your well-meaning, but ill-informed, parents is something that Bobby continues to contend with. This a story worth telling even in an era where LGBTQ youth have more freedom to come out of the closet earlier than the generations before them. This is the important part of this issue: that Iceman, in spite of his signature sass and omega-level mutant status, can’t quite find the courage to come out to his parents. It’s a struggle that I’m all too familiar with, not from personal experience, but from what my gay friends have had to deal with. And stories need not identify with all its readers to possess the merit of being worthy of examination.
Having the younger time-displaced version of Iceman around to bounce off of Present Day Iceman’s insecurities was a great narrative choice. Here we have another Bobby Drake who’s much more well-adjusted to coming out of the closet and exploring his first serious relationship with another boy while our protagonist looks enviously from the sidelines. And it’s quite alright that the younger Iceman isn’t the focus of this series because the few openly gay superheroes that do exist lack the unique perspective that Iceman #1 showcases: How to Gay Adult.
There’s an understated genius in Grace’s decision to focus on the mundane aspects of Bobby’s life. The issue doesn’t make a grand spectacle of his sexuality, choosing instead to showcase the quiet moments in his life like filling out a profile on a dating site– an intimidating experience in of itself. At the end of the day, he doesn’t even fully come out to his parents realizing that— in a world that hates and fears him for being a mutant— he’s not quite ready to tackle the battle of being both proud to be a mutant and proud to be a gay man.
This is why Bobby Drake deserves his moment in the sun.
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