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Jan 11

Iceman #3-5

Posted on Friday, January 11, 2019 by Paul in x-axis

The idea of Sina Grace and Nathan Stockman’s Iceman tends to be better than the reality, which is a frustrating mix of the subtly executed, and the crashingly heavy handed.  I covered the first two issues of this series a while back, and here we get what amounts to a third issue which broadly stands alone, followed by the big drawing together of threads to… mixed results.

#3 has a lot of what this book does well.  It’s Bobby as the X-Man with a foot in the real world.  He’s dating, he’s at a street food festival in Manhattan.  Spider-Man and Firestar are there too, with their own dates.  And honestly, I’m more interested in seeing these characters do normal things for a bit.  Well, not so much Spider-Man, who actually does normal things quite often – but it’s a nice change of pace for the X-Men.  Stockman’s good on the setting and largely decent on his conversation scenes, though he does lapse into fixed grins from time to time.

We’re meant to be referencing Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends here, but there’s less mileage in that than you might think.  The three characters have no real history in the Marvel Universe to play on, and the cartoon show was from more than 35 years ago; but if your audience is made up largely of people who remember it fondly (like me), or indeed who remember it at all, then that’s probably not a good thing.  But the story doesn’t need to do much with the cartoon who justify spending the first half of the issue on normal people stuff, after which we get a big ice monster sent by Mr Sinister as a lure, and the heroes beat it.

Which sets up the big finale.  Iceman decides to go after Mr Sinister on his own, for no particularly logical reason besides the fact that it’s his book.  He tries making some sort of alliance with the one-dimensional stroppy Morlock leader Madin, but that doesn’t go anywhere much.  I can’t get very worked up about Madin, who feels like a forced metaphor instead of a rounded character.

But the last two issues have a lot going on, some of it very interesting, some of it very much less so.  The basic idea is that Iceman goes to face Sinister alone below ground, while there’s a Mutant Pride parade going on up top.  The link between the two comes mainly from Sinister sending some of his henchthugs to attack the parade, and Bishop rounding up the Morlocks to stop them, with Christian and Emma Frost showing up to link us back to issue #2.

And the Mutant Pride stuff is… not desperately good.  Some of Christian’s stuff is desperately on the nose (“I want to use my mutant powers without feeling shame”), and there’s really not enough depth in it for his presence to add much.  There’s a bit where Storm and Kitty make a big rousing speech which is played in counterpoint with Iceman fighting his way through Sinister’s base; I like the idea, but the juxtaposition really adds nothing – meaning that what you get is just a rather obvious manifesto.  The big problem here isn’t the soapboxing, so much as the fact that it doesn’t really emerge from the story; it’s two characters who haven’t otherwise been involved in the plot, delivering a lecture.

On the other hand, there’s Iceman versus Mr Sinister.  It’s probably meant to play as Iceman coming into his own, but since Sinister used to be an A-list threat to the X-Men and X-Factor combined, I can’t quite get away from the feeling that if he’s having trouble with Iceman, he must have really fallen on hard times.  Still, there’s a lot to like in this take on Sinister, who’s got a whole bunch of Shakespearean stage sets littering his base in a warped bid for class.  That kind of fits with the underused Kieron Gillen take on Sinister, and I appreciate the idea of Sinister having some sort of anchor in the real world, however tenuous and delusional.  Some of his base is downright surreal – there’s an entirely unexplained scene of enslaved mutants dancing with giant fountain pens, which is a truly memorable image.

This side of things seems to be floating the idea that Sinister is as lonely and trapped within his own outward persona as Iceman was before he came out, giving a very slight parallel that does add something to their scenes.  Even though most of what Sinister actually says in the last two issues is moustache-twirling stuff, there are some smart hints of something more going on, and the book is undoubtedly better when it lets weird stuff speak for itself.

But it’s a very mixed affair, and I really struggle to find something interesting in the parade half of the plot – honestly, I’ve read issue #5 several times now and every time I’ve struggled to resist the temptation to start skim-reading when it comes to the resolution of the parade stuff.  There’s half a good comic here, and half of a slog.

Bring on the comments

  1. Ben says:

    On top of that, I just don’t see how endlessly increasing Iceman’s powers is a good thing.

    He’s basically an immortal untouchable God now.

  2. wwk5d says:

    “I want to use my mutant powers without feeling shame”

    Might help to not kill people with them, then…

  3. Chris says:

    Mr Sinister didn’t curb stomp Iceman?

  4. Jacob says:

    Wait, so there is both a Mr. and a Miss Sinister now? It seems pointless to bring back the male version and have the redundancy of characters just because. But of course, this is the same book that brought back the original Pyro, despite there being a brand new one that no one cared about in Gold, just for a throwaway scene.

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