I have to be honest with you…Mika came up with the post title. She’s coming along nicely.
Iceman, aka Bobby Drake, founding member of the X-Men will be revealed to be gay in the upcoming All-New X-Men #40. This isn’t the “current” Iceman specifically, but his teen-aged self who was brought from the past to the present by present Beast so that past Cyclops can convince future Cyclops to not be a terrorist because Marvel comics make no sense anymore.
Let’s take a little inventory before I ruin everything.
This is a good thing. I’ll try to make that the top slice of bread in my “compliment/criticism/compliment” sandwich before the fillings come in. I’ve said repeatedly, and it’s not just me, that gay characters will always be tokens as long as third-stringers and cameos and brand new, cut out of whole, fabulous cloth characters are the only gay ones. Marvel’s three biggest characters are a rich white womanizer (Tony Stark), a celibate Aryan superman (Steve Rodgers) and a white guy from New York who gets with a lot of chicks and then feels really bad about getting them killed (Peter Parker). I just realized that I left Logan out of that but it’s probably ’cause he’s not an MCU property, which means I haven’t thought about him for a while. Or it’s because he’s a 5’2″ bull testicle rolled in dog fur.
We needed a heavy hitter. A Cap or an Iron Man or a Spidey. But Iceman? I dunno. He’s just…Iceman. Not picked in the first round of the superhero kickball draft. This doesn’t change the landscape of diversity in comics much, at least among the “appearing on lunch-boxes” set.
The other problem (which is a “problem” more of story-telling) is that if one of these 40+ year old properties is outed as gay, what happens to their past lives as straight (or straight-acting) men? I have a friend who, whenever gay hero Northstar is mentioned (which you would think would be never, but with us it actually turns out to be a lot), he loves to point out that Northstar was always waking up with one or more chicks in any given Alpha Flight issue. If you try to point out that maybe John Byrne was trying to communicate ‘overcompensating’ in four colors, my friend denies that’s possible.
|He’s wrong, though|
But that HAS kind of stuck with me. To get what *I* want, i.e. a major, recognizable superhero as something other than hetero-normative, there’d be a fair amount of retcon and narrative recontextualization required. We’d need Cap to realize that maybe he loved the army for more reasons than patriotism or that Tony’s processing something in an extreme, overcompensating fashion or that Spidey is probably not paying enough attention to those (soon to be dead) women. In the continuity-obsessed world of comics, we’d have to accept that everything that we knew about someone up to this point may have been completely wrong, which is a lot to ask of fans. Though to be fair, that’s a scenario many gay people find themselves in every day. Total continuity reboot. I mean, I’m not comparing Batgirl being able to walk again to coming out to your family, but both are a lot to process. But it’s high time we see a major character have this kind of change in their life (as many comic readers have) and for the reading public to get used to the idea. Until then, the extent of LGBTQ+ representation in funny books will be limited to third-string heroes and flamboyant villains.
Iceman is the closest we’ll get to that (at least for now) and I guess we’ll have to settle for it. From continuity perspective, has Bobby been heading in this direction since 1963? Hard to tell. This is Bendis’s young Bobby Drake from the past we’re looking at and although Bendis has respected the idea of temporal causality in the young X-Men’s adventures about as much as he did the Powers comics when he adapted it into a TV show (i.e. not in any way), you have to wonder: is adult Bobby gay now? Yeah yeah, he dated Kitty Pryde, big deal. Everyone’s dated Kitty Pryde. *I* dated Kitty Pryde. He also dated some other girls whose names I don’t know because I don’t want to put the NBC suit on to look at my old Nicieza/Lobdell X-Men comics. But as far as his current orientation…unclear. Did he “grow out of it”? Or was he bi as a teen but doesn’t express it as a man? Or did he just land on straight? Or is he totally closeted because, frankly, who could he even identify with currently in the Marvel Universe? An open-ended question for now that I’m sure will (unfortunately) wait for an answer until Marvel needs some more publicity. Maybe old Bobby meeting young Bobby will make him question his orientation in the future and propagate a change, like he’s in a Back to the Future photograph but instead of disappearing, his hair starts to look WAY better. Causes and effects, the nature of the true self and both the expression and concealment of one’s desires will probably (at least for now, I’m afraid) remain unexplored in a medium where people punch each other while wearing their underwear outside of their pants.
But seriously, Jean; just read the guy’s mind and tell him he’s gay. Nice. Very Patriot Act. Thanks, Obama.
Via The Verge