The Iceman Cometh… Out

Not a hoax, not a dream, and not an imaginary story, but it does sort of involve time-travel hijinks. This week’s issue of the comic “All-New X-Men” #40 reveals that original X-Men team member (and “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends” co-star) Bobby Drake, aka Iceman, will come out as gay. More details are available in this The Mary Sue article; the pages depicting Bobby’s coming out (leaked early) are available here.

If you’re wondering, “All-New X-Men”‘s premise is that the original 1960s X-Men team members—Iceman, the Beast, Cyclops, Angel, and Jean Grey—have been sent to the world of 2015 via time-travel for various reasons, where they’ve decided to stay put for, well, more various reasons. This involves much interacting with their present-day selves; one of the main reasons for the time-trip is to avert some of what they’ve been shown about their futures (see: Cyclops).

It’s more welcomed diversity, and I’m someone who grew up watching “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.” However, I have a few questions/comments:

  • The way the pages handle it feel a bit clumsy to me. “Full gay” and the outright dismissal of the idea of Bobby being bisexual feels somewhat dismissive toward those who are bisexual (or questioning, etc.). Saying he’s bisexual also would’ve more fully jibed with Iceman’s published history to date (he’s dated various women, albeit with lackluster results), without it retroactively becoming Bobby spending years of being “in denial”/”closeted”/etc.
  • Where does this leave the modern-day adult Bobby? Apparently he’s been closeted and in denial all these years? Does young Bobby coming out get to retroactively change this?
  • Related to the above, I assume eventually the “young” X-Men will either be revealed to be from some alternate past timeline (somehow) or, more likely, sent “home” with memory wipes aplenty. Does this stretch to Bobby’s memories of “coming out,” meaning he’ll spend years closeted, etc., only for “modern” Bobby to finally come out (again)? Sounds a bit depressing, if so.
  • Jean’s line “that’s one of the good things about being here as opposed to back where we came from. I don’t think anyone here cares” regarding Bobby being openly gay seems odd. Per sliding comic timelines, at this point, the original X-Men debuted by my count sometime around the turn of the millennium, not in 1963 when “X-Men” #1 came out. While things have improved since circa-2000, being openly gay back then wouldn’t have elicited a 1960s-style homophobic backlash. There’s also that Marvel’s characters all live in and around New York City, one of the most gay-friendly cities in the country.

It remains to be seen what’ll happen in future comics, of course. In the meanwhile, the news of all this has spread even to mainstream non-comics media like CNN. Though I imagine they’re likely confused about the time-travel storyline nature and/or unfamiliar with Iceman or any X-Men character who isn’t Storm, Wolverine, Cyclops, or Professor Xavier. The CNN article mistakenly claims the X-Men went back in time to visit their past selves, when it’s the other way around; oddly, CNN does note the original Green Lantern’s from Earth-2, but doesn’t note (via a website link, etc.) just what “Earth-2” is for non-comics-fans reading. (If you’re wondering: Earth-2’s a parallel Earth to the “main” DC Comics Earth, traditionally with the 1940s versions of their characters.)

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