With the news that Marvel’s Iceman will receive his first-ever ongoing series, launching in spring 2017, one’s mind might wander back to the previous two times Bobby Drake has held down his own solo comic. There’s his first 1984 limited series, which saw the X-Man’s resident cool prankster going on a downright metaphysical and totally cosmic adventure. And then there’s the last time Iceman flew solo, in 2001’s “Iceman” series from writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning and artists Karl Kerschl and Skottie Young.
The limited series was part of Marvel’s “Icons” line, an initiative that lasted from 2001 to 2002. Iceman wasn’t the only X-Man to get the “Icons” treatment; minis starring Cyclops, Chamber, Rogue and Nightcrawler were also published during this time period. The Iceman comic, as you can tell by Bobby’s black-leather look on the cover to Issue 1, took place during the era most influenced by the 2000 “X-Men” film.
The limited series has been virtually forgotten; you won’t find it collected in any trade paperback. Of course, as the title of this article suggests, there’s one big plot point that could have made this series one to remember: It deals with Iceman’s relationship with his ex-girlfriend Opal Tanaka, a character that hadn’t been seen for a long time prior to this limited series.
Opal debuted more than a decade earlier, in 1990’s “X-Factor” #51, as a record store employee caring for an injured, lonely mutant named Mole. Iceman met Opal an issue later when he stopped into the store to buy Kate Bush’s latest CD (that would have been “The Sensual World,” based on the release dates — Iceman likes baroque pop!). Iceman asked Opal out on a date and, eventually, the two became a couple. Their relationship was filled with the usual superhero speed bumps (like when Opal was adopted by a crime family of Japanese cyborgs), and the two eventually grew distant. By 1993’s “Uncanny X-Men” #301, Iceman was putting his duties as an X-Man before Opal.
The couple reached a breaking point a little later in “Uncanny X-Men” #305, and Opal left Iceman, angry at his prioritizing superheroics over their relationship.
Fast-forward years later, to 2001’s “Iceman” #1, and Opal has gone from working in a CD store to working in Hong Kong for Winterbrand Technologies, a “global market leader in various fields.” And after receiving an anonymous email containing a photo of Opal and a blond baby, Iceman flew out to meet his ex — and his son. Upon arrival, Iceman was of course ambushed by well-armed and augmented street toughs that collected a sample of the mutant’s ice. Bobby and Opal’s reunion came with the revelation that she found out she was pregnant after they broke up.
When Iceman asked to meet little Robert, Opal took him to a stasis chamber in Winterbrand’s labs. The baby had a rare genetic condition, possibly because of his mutant father, and Winterbrand CEO Alain Weiss had been taking care of him since the symptoms emerged. Ethically challenged, Weiss was the one who emailed Bobby that photo of Opal, so … not a great boss. Weiss revealed he needed Iceman to commit to a year of genome study in order to help his son.
And then Iceman made the mistake of contacting his super-scientist best bud Beast. That unapproved phone call triggered Weiss’ contingency plan to send a bunch of augmented children after the X-Man. It turns out Weiss was actually holding the sick baby hostage in order to get his hands on Iceman and his ice-cold mutant powers — and it was also his Augmen that attacked earlier. What’s even worse? Opal was in on it all along!
After a big battle with the Augmen that wrecked a small shantytown, Iceman befriended an elderly fisherman and part-time mystic named Foe-Dog. While his new buddy helped him recover from his Augmen-inflicted wounds, Weiss shoved Opal into a secured hotel room to keep her out of the action. With Foe-Dog’s help, Iceman sneaked into Opal’s room and got her side of the story.
While working at Winterbrand, Opal discovered a secret video detailing Weiss’ plan. The mad scientist was surgically removing mutant abilities and grafting them onto kids — the only people that could survive the process. And Weiss needed something superhumanly cold — like “bio-ice” — to keep the cyberlinks powering the mutant grafts from overheating.
With his son still held as bait, Iceman agreed to participate in Weiss’ project and have his mutant power grafted onto other bodies — knowing that the process kills the mutant donors. Except that wasn’t the whole plan! While Weiss was focused on Iceman, Foe-Dogg snatched little Robert out of harm’s way just in time to allow Iceman to fight back. Weiss turned his tech on himself, superpowering him to fight Iceman. But Iceman unloaded his powers on the doctor, wrecking his new body.
After defeating Weiss, Iceman made a big decision: He would quit the X-Men in order to stay in Hong Kong and help raise his son along with Opal. And that’s when a pre-recorded video message clued Bobby in on the truth:
It wasn’t really his kid; Opal just had her sick child kidnapped by Weiss in an attempt to trap the mutant he really wanted — Iceman. But this revelation didn’t come as a big surprise to Bobby. No, he said, deep down, he knew that was the case all along, and that he would have stayed and helped Opal if she hadn’t fled with the baby.
Iceman moved on with his life, though, and no mention was made of this miniseries until more than a decade later in 2013’s “Astonishing X-Men” #62. That storyline saw Opal and Robert, now walking, return to Bobby’s life just in time for his supercharged ice powers to go haywire and envelope the planet. But even before the start of the madcap adventure, the kind of thing Opal originally left him over, Bobby seemed surprisingly chill about the whole “tricked you into thinking he was your kid” thing.
Iceman’s just cool like that.
Marvel’s new “Iceman” ongoing series launches in spring 2017.