As Iceman, Bobby Drake is one of the Marvel Universe’s premier team players. A founding member of the X-Men, Bobby has been with the team on and off throughout the years along with other groups including the Champions of Los Angeles, the Defenders and X-Factor. In fact, he’s spent most of his teen and adult life as part of something larger, rarely venturing out on his own as a solo superhero. That all changes starting this June when Marvel’s “Iceman” ongoing series launches. Writer Sina Grace and artist Alessandro Vitti will follow an adult Bobby Drake as he works to reestablish his heroic and personal lives.
CBR spoke with Grace about writing Bobby as a solo hero, Bobby’s relationship with the X-Men, the adventures he’ll embark on a solo hero, and what it means for the adult Iceman to have a younger and much more successful version of himself operating in the present day.
CBR: Your “Iceman” series focuses on the adult Bobby Drake, who is in an interesting position since he’s living in the present day with a time displaced version of his younger self — a younger self who has been able to admit who he is and has even entered into a romantic relationship. How do you think that’s affected the adult Bobby? What’s his emotional state when you pick up with him in issue #1?
Sina Grace: Without losing the focus on adult Bobby Drake, we do immediately show what having a time-displaced younger version of Iceman does to our main character. On the one hand, it’s great to look in the mirror and see a version of yourself slaying at life, but then it kind of stings when your mirror self is like half your age. Bobby is all-around in a good mood, but finally starting to stare at things he was happy to not have to deal with. He’s smiling, but the reader sees it falter a bit.
For so much of his adolescent and adult life, Bobby has been part of a team, whether it’s the X-Men, the Champions, or the Defenders. What’s it like for him to be adventuring on his own as a solo hero?
He’s leaning into being a teacher at the school, and also carving out a little space for himself. I personally kind of love seeing the day-to-day of X-Members. That being said, my editor on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” wisely once told me “No one wants to see the TMNT in a Noah Baumbach film,” so writing him as a solo hero has been all about exploring what Bobby takes stock in, but with that Uncanny X-Men layer that brings action and intrigue.
Writing him as a solo hero has been an interesting challenge in that we can’t play him too zany like a Squirrel Girl, and it wouldn’t really work to play him gritty like a Hawkeye… so I did the thing that “Iceman” at its core is about: made something special and uniquely Bobby Drake in tone and execution!
You mentioned Bobby will teach at the school, but he’s currently not part of any X-Men teams. So how big a role will the larger X-Men organization and its various members play in “Iceman?”
Bobby still lives in the X-Mansion and works with the other mutants residing in Central Park. We see Kitty as early as issue two. The best way to put where Bobby fits in the larger X-World is, there’s a bunch of teams, and he’s a part of the larger X-Men umbrella, but he’s mainly holding the fort in Central Park, for all intents and purposes.
What can you tell us about the supporting cast of “Iceman?”
I’ll give you these: we see Time-Displaced Bobby in issue one. We see Kitty Pryde in issue two. We see Bobby’s family here and there in the first few issues. I’m starting off small, and keeping it about our main guy the first story arc just so new readers can feel grounded in who they’re following for the journey ahead. We expand the cast in a big way for a treat in the beginning of the second arc. Wiiiiiiiiiink.
When it comes to superheroic exploits will Bobby seek out certain types of missions? Or is he the type of hero that goes on patrol?
Some challenges fall in his lap, some come searching for him specifically. I really love balancing the cause and effect relationship of being a superhero and making decisions that have repercussions. Not so much in the Avengers way- we blew up some stuff and hurt some people and we’re to blame- but in that Spider-Man way of “I did this thing, I am this thing, and that leaves an impact on a lot of people.”
He’s not like Ms. Marvel or Spidey where he patrols, the fights have an organic way of knocking on his door. The second issue is essentially an extraction mission for Bobby and Kitty with oodles of wrinkles. The third issue is trouble looking for Bobby. ‘Nuff said.
What can you tell us about the antagonists that Bobby will come into conflict with during his adventures? What kinds of villains make the best foils for Bobby?
I can officially say: WE SEE PURIFIERS EARLY ON. That cover for issue three– even I’m nervous!! Bobby is sort of like the banana slug in that he has no real predators of his very own because he’s always been in X-Books or is too powerful for low-hanging baddies, so I’ve had to look at the canon and find my own places where there are very personal fights waiting for him.
The best villains are the ones that can’t just have their temperature frozen down to reach a gentle slumber… hah!
I first became familiar with your collaborator, Alessandro Vitti, via his work on Marvel’s original “Secret Warriors” series. His characters have this great sense of physicality and attitude. What’s it like working with Alessandro? What do you enjoy most about his style?
My editor sold me on him with “imagine what he’s gonna bring to action sequences,” but what I didn’t catch from some of Alessandro’s previous works is his attention to detail and care he puts in everything he draws. What’s even greater about our pairing is that his sense of humor pops up in different ways than mine- I go for dialog-based humor to avoid making this book slapstick, but he will add some humorous visual cues that just elevate the story beyond my expectations. He’s an amazing fit.
Finally, it seems to me that ultimately “Iceman” is a book about a protagonist trying to improve and sort of reclaim both his personal and superheroic lives. Is that a fair description? And if so what does that mean for the tone and feel of the book?
It’s totally fair to describe “Iceman” as a book about a hero trying to reclaim himself. With all of my writing, “Iceman” definitely covers an exploration of identity, but Marvel fans will be excited because it’s all through the lens of his powers and his place in the MU as a superhero. We finally get to find out what really makes Bobby tick… what makes his blood boil, and what makes his heart melt.
This book is a supremely great package. Editor Daniel Ketchum’s instincts to wrangle Kevin Wada, Alessandro, Rachelle Rosenberg and myself on this book were totally right. We all work well together, and have a great idea for how to make this a book that readers will love reading as much as we’ll love working on it.