Winter may be winding down, but things remain quite cold in the world of geek culture. Mr. Freeze has arrived on “Gotham” and joins a veritable ice age of cold-focused characters currently appearing on comic book-based television. The Earth-2 version of Caitlin Snow, otherwise known as Killer Frost, recently made a huge impact on “The Flash” and everyone’s favorite ice-blooded rogue Captain Cold plays a major role on both “The Flash” and Arrowverse spinoff “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.” But that’s just the tip of the, wait for it, iceberg.
Cold-themed heroes and villains have played a major role in comics since the Golden Age. From the early days of DC Comics and Marvel to the modern era of superhero multimedia, there have long been characters that can generate ice, snow and sleet to keep things very chill in the world of comics. So put on an extra layer or two and take a brisk look back at some of the most notable cold-centric characters in comic book history.
First appearance “U.S.A. Comics” #1 (Aug. 1941)
Created by Stan Lee and Frank Giacoia
This early Marvel hero didn’t nip at anyone’s nose; he froze people and punched them in the face. The original Jack Frost was the first cold-powered character in comic book history and if history alone didn’t make him important, the fact that he was one of Stan Lee’s earliest creations certainly does. Jack Frost was originally a young man who mysteriously wandered out of the Arctic with no memory and the ability to create ice and great cold. Frost was also a precursor to the classic Stan Lee hero model, viewed as a monster by the world he protects — just like the X-Men, Hulk, Silver Surfer, Spider-Man and so many more.
First appearance (as Joar) “All-American Comics” # 90 (1947)
Created by Robert Kanigher and Irwin Hasen
First Appearance as (as Cameron) “Infinity, Inc.” #34 (1987)
Created by Roy Thomas, Dann Thomas and Todd McFarlane
The Icicle, the first cold-themed villain in comics, fought the original Green Lantern during the Golden Age and is one of the few nemeses from that era to have an impact in the modern day. The first Icicle utilized a cold gun to commit his crimes and made life very chilling for the Justice Society of America as a member of the Injustice Society of the World. Thanks to prolonged exposure to the classic ice weapon, the original Icicle’s son was mutated into a being of pure ice and the new Icicle picked up where his father left off to menace the modern day JSA.
First appearance “Showcase” #8 (1957) Created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino
Captain Cold is cool in every sense of the word. Wentworth Miller’s live-action take on the character has become a fan-favorite on “The Flash” and more recently “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” but Len Snart has been a major force at DC Comics for years. Captain Cold and his signature Cold Gun have returned time and again to slow down the Flash both as a solo act and as the leader of the Rogues. Cold has long been one of the Flash’s most persistent foes, and in the modern era writer Geoff Johns explored the Rogue’s past as an abused child who turned to a life of crime to escape his father’s constant physical punishment. As a former victim, Cold often feels for the lost and the broken and takes the villains of Central City under his wing. This net of protection has extended to his sister, the Golden Glider, and his best pal and partner in crime, the villainous Heat Wave. All these elements have made Len Snart one of the most intriguing characters on genre TV and in comics books.
First appearance (as Mr. Zero) “Batman” #121 (1959)
First appearance (as Mister Freeze) “Detective Comics” #373 (1968)
Created by Bob Kane, David Wood, Sheldon Moldoff and Logan Sowadski
CBR recently did an in-depth retrospective on Mister Freeze ahead of his “Gotham” debut, but no list of cold themed comic characters could be complete without Gotham City’s cold-hearted killer. Freeze’s role on “Gotham” is just the latest in a long line of media appearances for the villain. From the ’60s camp of the “Batman” TV show to the Shakespearean tragedy of “Batman: The Animated Series'” Mister Freeze in the ’90s, Victor Freeze and his cold gun have been giving Bat fans goose pimples for decades.
First appearance “Adventure Comics” #306 (1963)
Created by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte
With a team the size of the Legion of Super-Heroes, a cold-based hero is basically a requirement. Polar Boy fills the future team’s quota but this young champion from the planet Tharr had to overcome rejection to become a Legionnaire. When Brek Bannin tried out for the Legion, he could not control his polar powers and was turned down. Instead of letting his dreams die, Polar Boy founded the Legion of Substitute Heroes and became a staple of Legion lore. Even though the Subs were usually played for laughs, Polar Boy was always the first to leap into battle to protect the innocent. Eventually, Polar Boy graduated to the big leagues and became a full-fledged member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. As a Legionnaire, things never got too heated for Polar Boy since he was raised on the hottest planet in the galaxy. The same powers that helped him cope with his sizzling environment also made him a perfect leader for the Subs and member of the Legion.
First appearance “The X-Men” #1 (1963)
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Arguably the greatest ice-wielding comic book hero of them all, Bobby Drake was a founding member of the X-Men and has served on nearly every Marvel super team in history. Known as much for his kind heart and good-natured humor as he is for his ability to manipulate cold, Iceman was also the first comic character to utilize the visually impressive ice sled as a mode of transportation. There are currently two Icemen in the Marvel Universe since the time-displaced teenage Bobby Drake joined his elder counterpart in the present day. Through these two versions of the same hero, Marvel has explored some poignant questions about sexual identity as Iceman continues to break new ground as a character.
First appearance “Journey Into Mystery” #97 (1963)
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Yetis, mad scientists, career criminals, mutants and heroes have all graced this list, but Ymir is the first ice god. Ymir is worshipped by the Frost Giants of Asgard and has risen from the frozen wastes of Jotunheim many times to threaten the sanctity of the Golden Realm. It’s taken the combined might of the gods of Asgard and many of Earth’s heroes to make sure Ymir stays in his icy realm, and there’s always a danger this god of ice will one day plunge the world into eternal frost.
First appearance “Tales of Suspense” #45 (1963)
Created by Stan Lee and Don Heck
1963 must have had one cold winter for Marvel Comics to introduce three icy characters in one year. Gregor Shapanka was a brilliant scientist obsessed with immortality. After taking a job at Stark Industries to steal some tech, Tony Stark fired the scientist and Shapanka created a cold generating suit and adopted the identity of a new, villainous Jack Frost. He only appeared once as Frost before changing his codename to the Blizzard, and thus launched a cold new legacy. The Blizzard stuck around for years, and while he never quite reached the A-list, he was at least persistent, fighting just about every Marvel hero there was. After the first Blizzard was shattered by the Hulk, a professional criminal named Donald Gill was given the Blizzard gear and continued the chilling tradition of villainy began by Shapanka. Gill’s version of the character was even used twice (albeit in a non-costumed role) in “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” These days, a third Blizzard who was watching an extra Blizzard costume for Gill runs around the Marvel Universe and continues the Blizzard’s reign of terror at Marvel.â€¨
First appearance “Journey into Mystery” #112 (1965)
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Laufey is the king of Jotunheim, the Asgardian land of eternal winter. This mighty creature is a giant of vast power and wherever he goes a frozen, bloody wasteland lies in his wake. Ages ago, Odin smote Laufey in battle and discovered the giant’s son on the battlefield and adopted him. The boy grew up to be Loki, the Prince of Lies, and for this reason Laufey is known for far more than his vast ice manipulating abilities. Laufey was recently resurrected and has once again devoted himself to making the nine realms a very chilling place.
First appearance as Crystal Frost “Firestorm “#3 (1978)
First appearance as Louise Lincoln “Firestorm” #21 (1984)
First appearance as Caitlin Snow “Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man” #19 (June 2013)
Created by Gerry Conway and Al Milgrom
The CW’s “The Flash” introduced the world at large to Killer Frost last month as the Earth-2 counterpart to Team Flash ally Caitlin Snow. Some fans might be surprised to learn Snow was actually the third woman to take on the identity of Killer Frost in the comics. The first Killer Frost was a woman named Crystal Frost, an unstable student who fell in love with her professor, Martin Stein. When Stein rebuffed her advances Frost locked herself in a cryogenic chamber and was cursed with the ability to absorb heat and project cold. Firestorm fought this obsessed madwoman until she was killed in battle. After her death, her friend Dr. Louise Lincoln replicated the Killer Frost accident to avenge her comrade. Lincoln appeared as Frost until the advent of the New 52 when Caitlin Snow began her career as the cold blooded villain. Snow first appeared as part of DC’s Villains Month event as a S.T.A.R. Labs scientist who was transformed into Killer Frost after H.I.V.E. agents tried to kill her inside a thermodynamic engine. Snow activated the coolant system which ended up turning her into a heat vampire and the latest Killer Frost.
First appearance “Batman” #337 (1981)
Created by Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas
The Snowman is one of Batman’s lesser known foes, but the strangeness of his origins makes him worthy of attention. Klaus Kristin was the son of a Tibetan Yeti and a human woman. While we can’t speak to how the romance worked emotionally or logistically, the result was a villain who eventually took on the identity of the Snowman. Kristin arrived in Gotham City intent on freezing the whole city until he was stopped by Batman, and the Dark Knight later traveled to Tibet to confront his chilling foe and his yeti father. The Snowman has been far from prolific, but there’s always the chance “Gotham” could take a chance on perhaps the strangest cold character on this list and make him something more than a punchline.
First appearance “Justice League International” #12 (1988)
Created by Keith Giffen, J. M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire
Sigrid Nansen was actually the first Scandinavian hero to use the name Ice Maiden. Nansen first appeared in 1977’s “Super Friends” #9 and was created by Created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon. When Nansen resigned from the international team of heroes known as the Global Guardians, the brave Tora Olafsdotter took on the Ice Maiden identity. Tora was known more for her sweetness and compassion than her ice-based abilities, but make no mistake, her powers were considerable. A princess from a lost tribe of cold manipulating Norsemen, Tora came to the outside world to use her gifts to make the world a better place. When Ice and her polar opposite, Fire, joined the Justice League, more fans than ever saw this hero from the frozen wastes for the first time and many DC readers fell in love with Tora’s never say die attitude and wide-eyed innocence, and Ice entered into one of most unlikely romances in Justice League history when she began dating volatile Green Lantern Guy Gardner. While she hasn’t enjoyed any real screen time, it’s been established in the New 52 that Ice does indeed exist and hope it won’t be long before she warms fans’ hearts again.
First appearance “The Flash” #112 (1996)
Created by Mark Waid and Anthony Castrillo
Four separate villains adopted the Chillblaine identity in the pre-“Flashpoint” DC Universe, but it’s the final rogue that earned a spot on this list. The Chillblaines were a series of villains gifted with Captain Cold’s tech by Cold’s sister the Golden Glider — at least until she tired of her beaus and dispatched them with extreme prejudice. Captain Cold tolerated this little game until the fourth Chillblaine got a jump on the Golden Glider and murdered her. This set off an unforgettable tale of vengeance that proved when it comes to the legendary Len Snart, revenge is a dish best served cold.
Lumi the Ice Queen
First appearance “Fables” #38 (2005) Created by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham
Lumi is the queen of winters in the world of Vertigo’s “Fables.” She was once a benevolent ruler of all things cold until she had her icy heart broken by the rakish Fable named Jack. Lumi even gave Jack some of her power for a time, transforming him into Jack Frost. After Jack had his way with her, Lumi sought vengeance and joined the evil Fable Emperor in his bid to take Fabletown. Lumi is the classic personification of the mythical Finnish Snow Queen come to life and a creature of terrible anger. Like so many of Willingham’s characters, Lumi has human foibles and quirks and does not easily forgive.