Iceman #7 from Marvel Comics by Sina Grace, Robert Gill, Rachelle Rosenberg and VC's Joe Sabino picks up right where the previous issue left off, with Iceman and the former Champions facing down some make-shift Sentinels that a far more dangerous than your average special effect.
Continuing the extrapolation of Bobby Drake's exploration of his new identity as an openly gay man, this issue not only mixes the high-action superheroics (of which there continue to be some really great examples here including Ice battle axes and giant Ice-Mechas) with romance and sexual discovery. And by sexual discovery, I don't mean sex, either.
Instead, Grace writes Bobby as someone who is continuing to find himself comfortable taking part in aspects of gay culture and experience, and is also finally feeling eager to learn. In one moment, Bobby throws out a phrase that you can't go 20 seconds in a gay club or on gay social media spheres without hearing: yas kween. Some will bemoan this as "How would Bobby know this?" (he presumably hasn't been living under a rock, that's how) and some will argue the "Not all gays are like this" route.
But here's the thing as I see it: Bobby, late to the game, is starting to feel comfortable in his own skin and suddenly this whole world of media, culture, social debate, and etiquette to dive into — and there's so much. But he's also finally excited to be taking part in it openly and freely.
Back when I was in college, we had this phrase to describe the gay guys in the group who'd freshly come out: they would "go gay." Basically, when they come out and get so excited by the process, they start to do the things they think are expected of them as a freshly minted gay man. Eventually this cools off when they realise where they fit in with gay culture and where it fits in with them — maybe they'll be a gay guy who clicks their fingers and yells "YAAAS KWEEEEEN!!!!", and maybe they won't.
This is the state I read Bobby in now: he's out, but coming out is a process, and he's trying to find where he fits in with it and where it fits in with him. The important thing for me with it is he finally seems truly happy and excited about it all.
Of course, the issue isn't entirely about Bobby and his gayness, but also about Bobby and his superheroing and Bobby and getting his life in order, and this issue has some great continuation on that, too. Bobby is fast becoming one of the most confident and capable superheroes we've seen in years, and that is great to see.
More interestingly is where the issue leaves Bobby, as he realises his position with getting his life in order may not sync up with a position at Xavier's School in Manhattan. It will be interesting to have a book with a mutant typically seen almost exclusively living among all the others at the school break out on their own somewhere new.
It remains to be seen if we'll see Iceman become Marvel's most well known and powerful superhero West Hollywood gay.
Gill and Rosenberg's art on the issue is great, too. There are some wonderful characterisation and big damn hero moments that are striking and awesome-looking, again upping Iceman's position as a major superhero in the Marvel universe that he always should have been.
Iceman continues to be one of the best Marvel titles hitting the shelves at the moment, told beautifully by Grace and his team. I have a lot of faith in Grace's ability to continue to quite the character forward into the future and keep Bobby's growth something both fun and vital on the comic shop shelves today.