As part of the Marvel Legacy initiative, this fall the heroes of Marvel Comics will reconnect with classic elements from their past as they forge new destinies. That places Bobby Drake, aka Iceman, in a unique situation because he helped to establish a number of heroic legacies: He was part of the first class of X-Men before going on to help found the Los Angeles-based Champions, the “New” Defenders and X-Factor.
With Iceman #6, writer Sina Grace and artist Robert Gill kick of their Marvel Legacy arc, which sends the title character and his longtime friend and former teammate Angel to Los Angeles to reunite with the original Champions — Darkstar, Hercules, Ghost Rider and Black Widow. But will the Champions of Los Angeles be happy to be back together? What adventures are in store for them? And what sort of trouble will Iceman get into before he heads west? For the answers, CBR spoke exclusively with Grace about his Marvel Legacy plans for Iceman.
CBR: Let’s start with the big news. This fall the original Champions will return in Iceman #6. What made you want to bring these characters back together as a group? What do you find most interesting about the original Los Angeles-based Champions?
Sina Grace: They key to making this series the best it can be is to keep both the reader and Bobby on their toes. Editorial called me and was like, “Hey, Legacy is approaching. Got any ideas for a standalone story? Maybe the Champions?” And I wrote back, “How about two issues of the Champions?” All of my Iceman stories have been so insular to date, and some f***ing sh** goes down in Issue 5 that will inspire Bobby to pursue “the geographic solution,” meaning: If you change your location, you can leave your problems behind. I wanted him to get out of town in Issue 6 anyway, so the Champions team-up really worked out, timing-wise.
Similarly, Los Angeles is such an interesting backdrop when you think about people going somewhere to reinvent themselves. Bobby’s been doing so much growing, I can’t wait to have Iceman in Hollywood. (Don’t worry, there’s no “Bobby gets discovered by an agent” subplot.)
What’s your sense of Bobby’s feelings about his time with the Champions? What did being part of that group mean to him?
If you go back and look at the Champions books, Bobby was very much working hard to not be perceived as “the kid” in the group. What’s interesting is that no one really sees him as that anymore, but that doesn’t mean his perceived value has grown. He’s always trying to prove something, it seems. I want to play with that. What’s even more interesting is that most all of these characters are in the midst of a shakeup of sorts, so everyone’s kind of wondering about the phrase “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” Add the theme of “legacy” to the mix, and you’ve got a solid backbone for a story about people leaning on each other in a time of need.
How do the other members of the original Champions feel about being reunited? How would you describe the group’s initial dynamic?
The crew feels bittersweet. Everyone’s been pretty beaten down by the events of Secret Empire and all of their various personal quests. I’d say the initial dynamic is “unexpected.” I think I’m allowed to say that Warren is pretty shut-down and in a weird headspace. Hercules and Widow are deeply affected by the Secret Empire stuff. … When they first meet up (at a bar, of all places), they’re all pretty weary but happy to see each other.
What’s it like bouncing Iceman and the various other Champions off of each other?
I haven’t really had an organic spot to write Angel into the series, so I’m taking this opportunity for two lifelong buds to connect, but my favorite thing about this team-up is getting the chance to write so many different voices. With X-Men stories and using a fixed number of characters at the Xavier Institute, there’s a sort of rhythm and cadence I end up falling into with the cast. I think the characters are happy for a change of scenery, and I’m happy to have a change of characters. Plus, I love all the different powers they have! The fights are gonna be ill.
What can you tell us about the adventures Bobby and his teammates will become embroiled in? Can you hint, tease, or talk about some of the antagonists they’ll run afoul of?
Hm! OK, all I can spill is that a mission sort of falls into the original team’s lap. Unfinished business, as it were. This mission invites a not-so-friendly face back into the present. I’m still debating if I will be sneaking in a Robbie Reyes cameo, too. Is that good enough for you spoiler hounds!?
[Laughs] What else can you tell us about how the Champions return will affect the direction and stories in Iceman? Will Bobby be relocating to Los Angeles? Will any new supporting cast members be introduced?
Without giving too much away, being far away from his parents, students and context will allow Bobby to spread his wings a bit, and try things without feeling the massive pressure he feels in Manhattan. I’ve got my hands full with this crew as it is, so I won’t be introducing any new characters. That’s the fun of Legacy — getting to lean in and revel in these folks and their history!
Artist Robert Gill joins you for Iceman #6. He’s currently showing Marvel fans what he can do with a diverse cast and emotionally charged superhero action as the artist of the Totally Awesome Hulk chapters of the “Weapons of Mutant Destruction” crossover. So it seems like he’d be a good fit for what you’re doing here. What do you enjoy most about Robert’s style?
When editorial sent me some pages Robert had been doing for Hulk, I was impressed by his balance of emotion and action. So much of Iceman is about the humor and showing human interactions between the grandiose action set pieces, and Robert’s so talented at pulling that off. I think if I could encapsulate the key ingredient an Iceman artist needs it’s “energy,” Robert’s got it.
Finally, Iceman #6 and the Champions’ return is still several months away. Can you leave us with some hints and teases about what’s in store for Bobby on the road to that issue?
I will gladly spill a few more hints to keep people excited and reading! What I can tell you is that basically from issue three on, the stakes keep getting raised. The action, the drama, and the humor get put on steroids, and I’m not gonna let go of the momentum. Daken’s appearance in Issue 4 is truly the best kind of delight. He’s such a wonderful thorn to have in Iceman’s side. Issue five, with Juggernaut, is maybe my favorite issue in terms of balancing the drama and action. So intense! I sent some friends screen grabs of the conversations that occur in that issue, and they were like “Dang, dude. Brutal.”
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