Issue(s): X-Men Origins: Iceman #1 Cover Date: Jan 10 Title: "The icy beginning!" Credits:
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa - Writer
Phil Noto - Penciler
Phil Noto - Inker
Daniel Ketchum - Assistant Editor
Nick Lowe - Editor
Issue(s): Uncanny X-Men #44, Uncanny X-Men #45, Uncanny X-Men #46 (origin back-ups only) Cover Date: May-Jul 68 Title: "The Iceman cometh!" / "And the mob cried ... Vengeance!" / " ...And then there were two" Credits:
Gary Friedrich - Writer
George Tuska - Penciler
John Verpoorten - Inker
Why do i have this? I suspect that Marvel published this series of Origins issues so they could have a trade available around the time that X-Men: First Class was in theaters. I usually avoid this sort of thing, but this came out right after Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa defied all expectations and made Marvel Divas a really good story, so i wanted to get something else by him.
That said, i didn't need this and if someone were to come along and pull this from my collection, i wouldn't complain.
The story is, obviously, about when Iceman's powers first manifested and how he was recruited into the X-Men. About half of the issue follows the outline of a series of back-ups that ran through the X-Men book in 1968. Uncanny X-Men #44-46, which i'm also covering in this entry, specifically covered Iceman, and the plot here is surprisingly faithful to the original back-ups but is also just different enough in specifics to annoy you. And i never get the reason for that; the readers in-the-know enough to recognize that the plot in this book is following the story from the earlier issues are also those likely to not appreciate the deviations. So you're not gaining anything; you might as well go whole hog and re-write the story entirely if that's what you want to do.
Anyway, since i normally wouldn't really cover the X-Men back-ups in this project, what i'll do here is run a comparison between them and the new revision. If nothing else it'll show what a nitpicky bastard i am.
To be fair, half of the Origins issue covers Bobby Drake's life from a point earlier than when the back-ups started. It has twelve year old Bobby and his parents learning about his powers.
His parents are extremely supportive.
In this telling, Bobby learns right away that he can become "a man of snow and ice". I mention that for comparison with the X-Men backup a little later.
Bobby has a girlfriend named Judy and bully problems from Rocky Beasley.
He trains himself to ice slide (something i'd rather see him learn at Xavier's school)...
...and also starts noticing anti-mutant sentiments, something that wasn't emphasized enough in the original stories so i don't mind seeing it here. But it's kind of cool in the back-ups that people don't even know what Bobby is and they refer to his powers as black magic. In the new stories mutants are already apparently a known factor.
I should note that some of the significant events - like Bobby's first discovery of his powers and the scene with him sliding around on his ice bridges in the woods - are depicted as huge honking double-splash panels. It's something so common by 2010 that i didn't originally even think about it, but since i'm sitting here with my 1968 back-ups: grah! It's just such an excessive waste of space that leads to comics feeling content-less. There is no need to dedicate two whole pages to one panel, twice in the same book. Normally i make large images embiggenable but it's not worth it in these cases.
To solve a Marvel Sliding Timescale problem - the fact that at the beginning of the X-Men back-ups Bobby and Judy have just come from a showing of West Side Story - Bobby invites Judy to go to the community center where they sometimes show old movies.
From here we get into a direct parallel with the X-Men back-ups.
Bobby and Judy are attacked by Rocky's gang after the movie.
Bobby is forced to use his powers.
Judy is not pleased to learn that Bobby is a mutant.
Bobby runs home to tell his parents. They try to send him away...
...but it's too late and people show up to stop him.
A major difference here is that in the new story, the police show up for Bobby's protection...
...but in the original it's basically a lynch mob that bursts in.
Bobby is brought to jail, and then Cyclops shows up to break him out.
Bobby says he wants to wait it out in jail, but Cyclops tries to force him out.
Note that in the original back-ups, Iceman ices up for the first time here.
In Origins, Xavier shuts down the fight and that's pretty much it for the story.
In the back-ups, there's an extended break-out scene involving Cyclops and Iceman fighting each other and then on the run from a lynch mob.
We do learn that, like in Origins, the police are more sympathetic than the locals.
Either way, in the end, Xavier decides to mindwipe everyone; the locals, the police, Judy... even Bobby's parents.
The Origins story goes a little further and shows Iceman arriving at the Westchester school grounds but there's nothing particularly revelatory.
You could argue that if you take out the gratuitous fighting in the back-ups, they get the story done in about 10 pages whereas the new version needs a full 16. On the one hand the fighting does go on a bit long. On the other hand Aguirre-Sacasa and Noto don't do anything worthwhile with the extra six pages; the story is just more stretched out, the panels are bigger with less dialogue per panel, etc.. I wouldn't even say the scripting is improved greatly between the two. One standout feature is Cyclops' snarkier attitude, although i don't know if it's an improvement.
Neither version does a great job of depicting Iceman in his early snowman version; both show a slightly more fluffy-looking version of his traditional icy look.
Ultimately it's a bit of a wash; the original wasn't that good but this version does nothing to improve it.
The irony with both the back-ups and this Origins series/event/whatever is that one of the best things about mutants from Stan Lee's point of view was that he didn't have to think up origin stories for all the characters.
When Xavier describes his school we see a lot of mutants, but the text makes it clear that Cyclops is his first pupil. So i guess we're seeing Xavier's vision, not a retcon that says that Xavier had already recruited a lot of mutants. I suspect the panel is also there for those familiar with similar scenes from the movies.
There are also the other X-Men Origins comics but I doubt you'll get them. I still you would get them at the same time though.
November 6, 2012 8:52 PM
Bobby learning how to make ice slides before joining the X-Men really doesn't work- in the early issues of X-Men, he didn't use his ice slides.
November 6, 2012 10:45 PM
@pst1993, as i mentioned i only picked this up because i was interested in the writer. Normally when buying comics in real-time i avoid stuff like this because the potential to be annoyed by (often unintentional) retcons is greater than any enjoyment factor. Now, if i come across the rest of the issues in the 25 cent bins i'll probably feel obligated to pick them up...
November 7, 2012 9:40 AM
This issue was part of the 2nd series of these comics. The first one came out in 2008. They did a Wolverine one in the first season because a Wolverine movie was coming out the year after. They also did Avengers Origins because of The Avengers movie next year. So, since another X-men movie is coming, expect to see more of these comics.
November 7, 2012 10:20 AM
The comparison of the two versions of the story is striking. The art from the 68 issue is more dynamic, even if the dialogue in the new one is better, but its just a cash in, like oyu I find the unnecessary inconsistencies frustrating.
November 7, 2012 3:29 PM
"The irony with both the back-ups and this Origins series/event/whatever is that one of the best things about mutants from Stan Lee's point of view was that he didn't have to think up origin stories for all the characters."
I think Lee meant he didn't want to have to keep coming up with origins for the powers. All mutant origins are easy enough to write, you just show someone one day manifesting powers and how it turns his world upside-down. I'm sure Lee wouldn't have minded writing those, as they pretty much write themselves.
January 16, 2013 12:03 PM
The Jean Grey one is interesting because it probably takes place during the rest of the X-Men's "appearance" in Journey Into Mystery #109.
Jay Demetrick |
September 1, 2013 1:21 AM
I'm a little surprised you didn't cover all of these appearances from the 1968 X-Men in this stretch. I first stumbled across them in Marvel Saga (I'm pretty certain one issue of Marvel Saga ended with Bobby freezing Rocky). I rather enjoyed all those issues and finding out how they came to the school and Marvel Saga did a nice job of putting them all in order.
One thing about the 68 version though - Bobby looks way too old, especially since there still has to be some time built in to get Warren and then Hank before X-Men #1.
I really ought to put the origin back-ups here, but i haven't wanted to cut up those comics. I do have them covered as bonus features on the entries beginning with X-Men #38 but yeah, they should be separated and placed in this era. Basically right now i'm cheating and treating them as flashbacks.
December 5, 2014 7:51 AM
One thing that's weird here is that Bobby's parents are presented as totally supportive of him. Yet in later appearances (especially in the 90s) Bobby's father is depicted as a total bigot, to the point where dealing with familial prejudice was a running subplot for Iceman. This is made all the more odd since THIS story was written after many of those ones.
Jon Dubya |
January 8, 2015 7:57 PM
Now I'm curious when Bobby's family found out again in the chronology. I remember hearing about the mindwipe and I thought Xavier erased his parent's memory of Bobby completely! Glad it wasn't that bad, though I think Xavier wasn't thinking of Bobby and his parents here, but rather security concerns. Perhaps the mental rewrite inadvertantly is why Bobby's father became twisted.