Following the appearance of leaked pages from "All-New X-Men" #40 online that reveal one member of the time-displaced original X-team to be gay, series writer Brian Michael Bendis and Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso have made comments placing the development in context.
The pages in question out the teenage version of Iceman, a character that has been at the forefront of the X-Men line since their debut in 1963. The exchange comes after the similarly teenaged and time-displaced Jean Grey reads Iceman's mind, and asserts that teenage Iceman is not bisexual, but "full gay." This development has been more controversial than it might otherwise have been due to the fact that the adult Iceman has been depicted as straight since his debut over fifty years ago.
"We would be foolish not to deal with that," Alonso said to MTV in an interview. "That was the second part of my conversation with Brian. Time travel gave us a platform to discover the journeys of the young characters. The obvious question is that once the young Bobby Drake has accepted and embraced who he is, what are the ramifications for his adult counterpart? It's safe to say that will be dealt with."
Alonso said this decision was thought through by editorial after being written into the script by Bendis and added that this development adds another layer to an already rich character. "We look at this as being one shading of who he is," Alonso said. "I think, personally that it is going to deepen the character, and humanize him even further, and make for fascinating stories. By that I am not saying you are not going to recognize Bobby Drake anymore. If you were a fan of Bobby Drake before, if you cared about him, I think this will draw you closer to the character, not push you away from him."
Many fans, however, feel that the usage of the term "full gay" in the leaked pages and the decision to completely rule out the possibility that Iceman may be bisexual constitutes bi-erasure. Bendis addressed these fears directly in a post on his personal Tumblr. Bendis writes:
I will say I'm super bummed that some people are reading any sort of bi erasure and biphobia into the interaction between bobby and Jean. nothing could be further from the truth.
nobody involved in this feels anything like that. and if anybody reading the horribly scanned leaked pages even thought that for a second please free your mind of that. it's not there.
this is a very unique story because one character, from a different time and a somewhat limited worldview, is reading another character's mind. this is in no way the traditional 'coming-out' story if there even is one, there is also this big chunk of time travel weirdness involved.
none of this is a statement about all things to all people. but it does give us a unique perspective that I thought was worth approaching. this is Bobby's story. nobody else's. some will find connection to it, others might not.
and this is just the first part of a larger story. See the upcoming giant size uncanny 600
"All-New X-Men" #40 is on sale now.