Tuesday, April 21, 2015

From Comics to Toons: The origin of Iceman (Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends, 1982)

We've previously covered the origins of Spider-Man (twice) and Firestar. This time, we're going back to season 2 of Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends, which kicks off with the origin of Bobby Drake, aka Iceman (Frank Welker).

Friends, I have an ulterior motive for posting this particular episode. In case you didn't read the news online earlier today, the idiots at Marvel have green-lighted writer Brian Michael Bendis' latest twist in X-Men history, taking effect with issue 40 of the current series, out tomorrow. You see, what Mr. Bendis, an acclaimed writer, but not quite so acclaimed when it comes to television, has decided to do is ret-con Mr. Drake into a gay man, becoming the 3rd (at least) pre-established Marvel character in the last decade, after the Rawhide Kid and Northstar, to be rebooted as gay.

Why take this step? For the sake of a cheap headline on a slow news day. Under publisher Dan Buckley, Marvel has made way too many of these moves, aimed at mainstream cross-promotion, but at the same time, it devalues characters who've been around since the 60's (Rawhide Kid and Iceman) or late 70's (Northstar). To my knowledge, Marvel hasn't developed a totally original gay superhero, though DC has in recent times, and instead will randomly choose pre-established characters and trot them out to the press, and, in particular, the gay & lesbian community, which comics publishers feel is still an under-served portion of their audience.

As noted, DC created a totally new gay superhero for a recent reboot of Teen Titans, but they've also rebooted pre-established characters, same as Marvel. Archie introduced their first gay character, Kevin Keller, as a positive role model (Is there any other kind of role model in Riverdale, anyway?), about 3-4 years ago, but his series was quietly cancelled recently, although he'll probably figure in the Archie reboot that begins in June. The shock value wore off a long time ago. I don't read the X-Men books anymore, haven't in years, and according to the articles I've read, they're using the time travel gimmick currently in those books as an excuse to reboot Iceman as gay. A poor excuse at that.

"The Origin of Iceman" gets a B.


Silverstar said...

I have nothing against homosexuals, having some numbered among my own family and friends, but this move by Marvel just screams "cheap desperate ploy for attention and relevance". Bobby's had numerous heterosexual relationships throughout his tenure in the comics, so why try to arbitrarily stick such a label on him 40 years after the fact? If it were me I'd create a new original character who just happens to be of the LGBT persuasion rather than try to retcon an existing character for the sake of a shallow publicity gimmick.

Austin Schivera said...

I have no problem with it at all. Leave it the way it is.

hobbyfan said...

I, too, have friends in the gay & lesbian community, and I think they'd be happier if Marble didn't decide to be so creatively lazy and flip the switch, if you will, on Iceman, and before him, Rawhide Kid & Northstar.

Comics writers & editors are like network executives. They pay no attention to the fact that their product reaches beyond their target audience. Older fans know better. Period.

Austin Schivera said...

I meant to say that I have no problem with it at all. Let them do what they want to do.

hobbyfan said...

And throw away over 50 years of history? I think not.

Austin Schivera said...

Let Marvel and DC do what they want to do.

magicdog said...

I love this ep and one of the few animated hero shows to go into detail about that hero's life.

As for Marvel - I'm really getting tired of their crap! Race lifting and gender lifting, now sexuality lifting of established characters who already had firm backgrounds! It's one thing to create an original homosexual character, but one shouldn't suddenly drape it on a known hetero one.

Besides, does Marvel really think the comic book market is all about gay men? Last I check, it wasn't and this risks alienating other fans.

hobbyfan said...

It's been discussed on other message boards as well. Marvel, and, for that matter, DC, are for some reason reluctant to create totally original gay characters. Like, research, such as taking meetings with activist groups such as GLAAD, would help.