It’s Secret Origin Saturday, Everybody… and while I say this every week, this one is very much a personal favorite! This week we look at one of my favorite X-Men, the coolest (I’m sure that won’t be the last of the ice and cold themed puns) of Marvel’s merry mutants… Bobby Drake himself… Iceman!
As I’ve spoken of before, I first discovered Iceman on the classic much beloved… (at least by ME!) Saturday morning cartoon, Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends.
By this point in my comic book reading, I was peripherally aware of the X-Men. This was 1981 and Marvel’s Merry Mutants were quickly rising to their peak popularity. They were every where, but I hadn’t yet ventured into their books. This was of course the X-Men introduced in Giant-Size X-Men #1. Visually they were a very dynamic, eye-catching group. Colossus was a shiny, metallic giant. Wolverine was short with bare hairy arms. Nightcrawler was blue with a graphic black, red and white outfit. They were intriguing to me but also intimidating. I was aware enough about the X-Men to know that they had a very rich mythology. As with many comics, I was afraid if I bought an issue, I wouldn’t know what was going on… and that meant in 1981, that I’d be throwing away my hard earned forty cents!
Iceman hadn’t been on the time in a while but I didn’t know this yet. I didn’t know who Iceman was until I watched Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends for the first time. Right off the bat, let me just say for whatever reason, I’ve always been drawn to cold themed characters. Mr. Freeze, Captain Cold, Polar Boy, Killer Frost… I dig ’em all. It’s one of those power sets that’s formidable enough to be interesting but not unstoppably powerful. Iceman however had more going on. He had a very likable personality. There’s something very underdog-ish and charmingly sympathetic about him. He shares Peter Parker’s knack for unlucky breaks. and like Spidey, he remains a very happy, go-lucky guy who’s a joker and a wisecracker in the middle of a fight. Although portrayed as not particularly bright and impetuous, he’s also prone to flashes of cleverness allowing him to often find creative and unique ways to bring down an opponent.
It was through Iceman… and their appearances on Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends that I’d discover and ease into the X-Men. As I mentioned above, Iceman, to my disappointment, was not an active member of the team at the time. In face, Iceman was largely relegated to the B… if not C… list of Marvel’s super heroes making occasional guest appearances and cameos in large group shots where he was very often drawn incorrectly or confused with the Silver Surfer. Honestly, this status seemed very appropriate for Iceman.
Fortunately, with the popularity of the X-Men, Marvel needed very little reason to launch more X-titles… although in 1981, this would not be as ridiculous as it’d become in the 1990’s! At the time, Marvel had launched the series Amazing Adventures which chronologically reprinted the adventures of the original X-Men right from the start. A fan of old comics and a fledgling amateur comic book historian, this series was right up my alley… and best of all, I got a regular dose of Iceman. Amazing Adventures didn’t last long, but the back issues were ridiculously cheap so I made it a point to buy up whatever issues I could find.
For this episode of Secret Origin Saturday, I’ve made a blend of the Iceman from the comics and the Iceman from Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends. This brings me right to this week’s Directors’ Cut Commentary… In the very montage-y opening panel, we see a de-iced Bobby Drake. I chose for my Bobby the Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends version. For whatever reason… may be to distinguish him from Peter Parker… on the show, Bobby was blond. In the comics, he has brown hair.
In all versions of Iceman’s origins, Bobby’s powers manifest and he reluctantly reveals them when he saves someone in danger. On the Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends episode, The Origin Of Iceman, it was shown that Bobby Drake first iced up in order to fight a fire and rescue people trapped inside a burning building. The town reacts very much like a crazed mob and immediately blame Iceman for the fire… a bit of a weird stretch given that Iceman has ICE powers and the fire is… A FIRE! Regardless, Bobby is arrested and placed in jail. I believe in at least one comic book version, Bobby is outright going to be lynched by the town when he’s rescued by Professor X and Cyclops. On this page, Bobby is broken out of jail by Cyclops… making this Cyclops’ first appearance on Secret Origin Saturday! Will Cyclops get his own SOS page? Well… he’s got a tough origin so I’m going to have to think about it. Cyclops is another favorite X-Man of mine… sharing the Number One slot with Iceman… so I’d love to do it. Plus Cyclops is fun to draw!
In Panel Five, I’m showing Iceman in his snowy glory as a member of the original X-Men. I chose to include Iceman’s famous first form even though it was never used in the cartoon because I always liked that very early stage in his development. On SM&HAF, Bobby instantly went right for his iconic ice covered appearance. In the comics, he wouldn’t develop that look until …I believe… The X-Men #7. The others in the shot are Marvel Girl, the Beast, the Angel, and of course, Cyclops again. By the way, the composition of this panel is intentionally made to be consistent with other super team shots I’ve drawn recently…
SM&HAF’s X-Men have a curious history that is markedly different from their comic book counterparts. Firestar, for example, being a unique character created specifically for the animated series had never been a member of the comic book team. The show tells us that Firestar joined the team after Iceman did… and after the team shed their original uniforms for more individualized costumes… but before later members like Storm and Wolverine joined. The Origin Of Iceman tells us that Bobby and his fellow X-Man, Firestar, eventually graduated from Xavier’s school and struck out on their own to go to college. This would be where they’d meet Spider-Man and form the Spider-Friends which I’m showing in Panel Six. This of course marks Spidey’s first appearance in SOS! Rest assured I DO have plans for a Spidey SOS page… and in fact he may have ANOTHER cameo before that coming up very, very soon! Panel Six, as sharp eyed Spider-Friends fans undoubtedly have caught, also features a cameo by Spider-Friends foe, Video Man!
That’s a wrap for this week, Everybody… but be sure to come back next week when Secret Origin Saturday takes a look for the first time ever at a bad guy! We have our first villain origin! Who will it be? Well, you can be sure… it will be AMAZING! Guesses in the Comments section below, Everybody!
See you next time!