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Nov 16

Astonishing Iceman #4 annotations

Posted on Thursday, November 16, 2023 by Paul in Annotations

As always, this post contains spoilers, and page numbers go by the digital edition.

“Out Cold, part 4”
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Vincenzo Carratù
Colour artists: Java Tartaglia with Chris Sotomayor
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Designers: Tom Muller & Jay Bowen
Editor: Mark Basso

COVER / PAGE 1. Iceman and Spider-Man in action.

PAGE 2. Iceman races off from his citadel.

The previous issue ended with Iceman getting back home but quickly heading straight back out to deal with a problem in New York, which we saw was Feral (as a Hound) attacking Spider-Man. Mr Clean was fairly obviously engineering these events to lure Iceman away from the citadel and leave it unguarded. As we’ll see later on, Iceman has actually got some security measures in place – he’s not an idiot – but they don’t get the job done.

PAGE 3. Recap and credits.

PAGES 4-5. Spider-Man fights the Hounds.

Feral has previously appeared as a Hound in Uncanny Spider-Man (and in the previous issue). Reaper and Fatale, who we see a little later, have evidently been turned into Hounds after being captured in Uncanny Spider-Man #3.

Chantal, who could also be seen last issue, appears to be a new character. She says that she’s a Genoshan mutate who had her tattoo removed – in other words, she’s one of the mutants who were physically modified into subservient slave labourers in the version of Genosha that first appeared in late 1980s stories, and was overthrown by the X-Men in “X-Tinction Agenda” in 1990.

PAGES 6-11. Iceman and Spider-Man fight the Hounds.

Straightforward fight scene, really.

PAGES 12-14. Iceman defeats the Hounds.

Seriously, this issue really is mostly a fight scene.

It’s not immediately obvious what hits Iceman in page 12 panel 3 and chips his face – maybe it’s just a regular projectile weapon, but perhaps it’ll be significant later on.

Randall’s Island is the main New York prison operated by Orchis, as seen over in X-Men (in particular).

Snow drones were indeed used by Iceman in issue #2 when he needed to take on all of the Elements of Doom.

PAGES 15-16. Spider-Man rescues Iceman from the collapsing ice.

We don’t see who’s responsible for the teleporter, but Iceman is presumably correct about it being Orchis. On the other hand, the breaking shard of ice is indirectly explained in the next scene.

Iceman does understand that Orchis are trying to lure him out but takes the view that he’s willing to take them on and keep them occupied, since he’s better placed than most remaining mutants to defend himself.

PAGES 17-19. Iceman and Spider-Man talk.

Iceman recaps the premise of the series, but also makes the point that he depends on Romeo’s empathy to keep him solid, and explains that that’s why his ice broke at the end. He’s correct, but in the previous issue Iceman didn’t seem to fully realise how hard Romeo was working to keep him solid from a distance. As we’ll see later, Romeo has been taken out by Mr Clean while Iceman was in New York, and the breaking ice is supposed to indicate that.

Iceman also takes pride in the fact that this is the longest that he’s remained solid away from Romeo. Naturally, in just a minute he’ll be feeling terribly guilty for not getting home sooner.

Iceman claims that it’s “not safe” for mutants to get together, though this doesn’t quite explain why he hasn’t attempted to make contact with the remaining X-Men. Most likely, they’ve just been so effective at staying under the radar that he doesn’t know where they are. Admittedly, you’d have thought he would know where to get in touch with the Avengers, given that the Unity Squad have some degree of public profile over in Uncanny Avengers.

I’m fairly sure the stuff about Spider-Man worrying about whether he was a mutant is a retcon (though a plausible one) – anti-mutant sentiment wasn’t a particularly big deal in the Silver Age.

PAGE 20. Data page – a pro-Orchis angle on Iceman’s big iceberg stunt. Firestar gets a reference as a “heroic” mutant, because of her public role as an Orchis agent.

The “masked mutant menace” mentioned in the top left is Nightcrawler, over in Uncanny Spider-Man.

PAGE 21. Vulture meets Pequod.

We’ve seen the Vulture in Uncanny Spider-Man, where he was working on weaponing the technarch virus to create the Hounds.

PAGE 22. Data page – a letter from Iceman to Romeo. Mostly, the point of this is to stress that Iceman’s castle has plenty of security features that are supposed to keep Romeo safe in Iceman’s absence – as we’ll see, they don’t get the job done, but it serves the purpose of showing that Iceman isn’t just an idiot who failed to anticipate this kind of attack.

Clyde is the snow drone we saw at the end of issue #1, serving as a sort of butler. He was the one who wore black and yellow boots like early Silver Age Iceman.

PAGES 23-24. Iceman finds that Mr Clean has seized the castle.

Speaks for itself.

PAGE 25. Trailers. The Krkoan reads OUT COLD PART FIVE.

Bring on the comments

  1. Si says:

    The following is entirely from my faded memory, and I was never a huge Spider-Man fan, so may be incorrect.
    The question of whether Spider-Man is a mutant was a big thing for a while in the late 80s, mostly played out in letters pages and magazine articles from memory, but it was mentioned once or twice in the comics as well. It was largely using Spider-Man as a stand in for all powered superheroes, if I remember correctly. I’m pretty sure there was a comic somewhere that definitively put an end to the argument.

  2. Diana says:

    @Si: I’ll take that a step further – I have a vague recollection that during Onslaught, Peter’s powers were fading in and out, and when they were active, a Sentinel ID’d him as a mutant

  3. Daibhid C says:

    Regarding specifically Spider-Man being “worried” he might be a mutant, I think I remember a continuity implant story in which Peter’s “first meeting” with the X-Men involves mutant prejudice and Spidey ending up on the wrong side of that in addition to the usual “everyone hates Spidey because the Bugle”. So a retcon, but an old one.

  4. Chris V says:

    During the Onslaught event, Onslaught reprogrammed the Sentinels so they detected and targeted super humans rather than mutants. The Sentinel was detecting that Spider-Man was an enhanced human, rather than reacting to his being potentially a mutant.

  5. Krzysiek Ceran says:

    The issue popped up in Spider-Man: The Animated Series in the two-parter that guest-started the X-Men. It was the season when Peter started mutating into a spider creature with extra arms and whatnot.

    Which I wouldn’t normally bring up, this being from a cartoon and all, but this issue basically treats Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends as sort of canon, so…

    (It’s not the first, I think the idea that Bobby, Angelica and Peter were friends at some point popped up in… Amazing X-Men?

  6. Chris V says:

    I’m pretty sure the Spider-Man: The Animated Series episodes you are referring was based on a little-remembered, early-‘90s comic book mini-series titled Spider-Man: The Mutant Agenda, so it’s somewhat canonical.

    Yes, it was an issue of Amazing X-Men which cemented the idea that Peter, Firestar, and Iceman had a long-standing friendship. It was an issue written by Kathryn Immonen.

  7. Michael says:

    There seems to have been a miscommunication between Orlando and Spurrier and Foxe. In Spurrier’s and Foxe’s books. it’s clear that the Hounds were captured by Orchis and turned into Hounds against their will. (Animax, Fatale and Reaper would have never been captured if they hadn’t gotten stir-crazy and left the Embassy but that doesn’t mitigate Orchis’ violation in any way.) But in this issue, Bobby shows no sympathy for the Hounds and acts like they chose to side with Orchis. In story, it’s possible that nobody explained to Bobby that the Hounds were mind-controlled but it seems like the real answer is that nobody told Orlando the Hounds were mind-controlled.
    How can Bobby eat bagels in ice form? I thought he had to turn human to digest food.
    @Chris V- The first story to suggest that Peter, Bobby and Angelica were friends was a one-shot in 2006 called Spider-Man Family Featuring Amazing Friends by Sean McKeever. It featured Spider-Man trying to set up Iceman and Firestar and took place when Firestar still had her original costume in her New Warriors days. Of course, at that point, Angelica was still in high school while Bobby was an accountant, so people have been trying to ignore the implications of that story ever since.

  8. CalvinPitt says:

    Jonah Jameson at one point hired X-factor (in their “X-Terminators” days) to bring in Spider-Man. I presume because Jonah was sure Spidey was a dangerous mutant, and that was the X-Terminators’ cover. That was somewhere around Amazing Spider-Man #282, right after he, Silver Sable and Sandman fight the Sinister Syndicate.

    In those Onslaught stories where their ability to detect Spider-Man comes and goes with his powers, one also notes his and MJ’s baby shows ‘readings beyond range of embryonic normalcy’ (that’s a hell of a phrase.) I can’t remember if Spider-Girl was considered a mutant or not.

  9. Chris V says:

    Spider-Girl is officially classified as a human mutate by Marvel, not a mutant.

  10. wwk5d says:

    “How can Bobby eat bagels in ice form? I thought he had to turn human to digest food.”

    Bobby is a magical omega mutant who can do anything, until the plot requires him to lose a fight to someone.

  11. Karl_H says:

    “Bobby is a magical omega mutant who can do anything, until the plot requires him to lose a fight to someone.”

    Just like Orlando’s Scarlet Witch (except for the mutant part).

  12. Michael says:

    @Karl H- in fairness, people have been complaining about Bobby being too powerful for over a decade now.

  13. Drew says:

    I remember back in college (would’ve been late ‘90s or early ‘00s), Marvel did a press release wherein they said because the radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker mutated his genes, he was now considered a mutant and would be joining the X-Men. I think they even had an artist create a hybrid Spidey/X-Men costume for him. Of course, it was an April Fool’s Day joke.

    Officially, I think you’re only a mutant if the mutation occurs naturally because of your X-gene; whereas if your body is artificially mutated by an outside source, you’re a mutate. But that’s been handled really, really inconsistently, especially in the Silver Age.

  14. Wayne says:

    Why would Spidey be so readily able to identify the Hounds (Fatale, Feral, Reaper) who are hardly well-known mutants?

  15. Michael says:

    @Wayne- Peter briefly met Feral during the crossover between Spider-Man 16 and X-Force 4 back in 1991. Apparently he remembered her.
    As for Fatale and Reaper, they were staying at the Limbo Embassy and Peter and Luke Cage visited the Limbo Embassy in issue 36 of his own book. Presumably he bumped into them while he was there.

  16. wwk5d says:

    But would that be enough for him to remember them? Or their names at least?

    Granted, they’re not going to have him say “Oh, it’s that cat lady from X-Force I met a while ago…and what’shername from the Limbo embassy…and that guy I also met at the Limbo Embassy…”

  17. Jdsm24 says:

    No-Prize: Peter Parker is a certified STEM genius, so he most have superior memory as well

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