In the pages of Marvel Comics' Iceman, X-Men member Bobby Drake has decided to live a better and more honest life as both a civilian and superhero. Of course, that decision has brought him face to face with some difficult challenges like the Purifiers, the villainous Daken, and the unstoppable Juggernaut. But in issue #5 he faced his most daunting task yet: Coming out as a gay man to his bigoted and disapproving parents.
The issue ended with a grudging acceptance from Bobby's father, but that doesn't mean the emotional turmoil in the young mutant's life is over. In Iceman #6, writer Sina Grace and new series artist Robert Gill kick off the book's Marvel Legacy arc, which sends Bobby and his best friend Angel to Los Angeles where they'll reunite with their former teammates, the Champions of Los Angeles, to mourn their fallen comrade, Black Widow, who perished in the recent Secret Empire event.
CBR: The big emotional moment in Iceman #5 and bridge to the series' Legacy arc was Bobby Drake coming out to his parents and the aftermath. What was it like writing that scene?
Sina Grace: I only have the most inappropriate words to describe writing issue #5. It was fun and it was easy, but only in that for the entire story arc I knew where I was going. By the time I got to writing issue #5 all the pieces were in place, and I just felt ready after so many months of build up.
So it was really kind of smooth and cathartic. [Laughs] Because some of the words in the issue came from very personal places.
The sense I got from the end of the issue was that some progress has been made in terms of Bobby's parents accepting who he is, but there's still miles to go.
Grace: Yes. If I'm bored of the very stone cold stance the Drake parents are taking on certain prejudices I imagine the readers are also tired of it. So that slow crawl of getting Bobby's parents on the same page as the rest of 2017 is kind of exciting. [Laughs]
They're really going to get to know Bobby as much as a superhero as they are as a person. I think that's going to be one of the exciting parts of the new issues to come.
How much time passes between the end of issue #5 and the beginning of issue #6? Where is Bobby physically and emotionally when you pick up with him?
Grace: Maybe a week or two passes between #5 and #6. Our first page of the issue is Bobby in Los Angeles with the remaining Champions. [Laughs] Again, all the words I'd use to describe working on the issue are inappropriate for the mood conveyed in the issue, but it's great because on top of everything else Bobby has been dealing with Natasha [Romanoff AKA the Black Widow] has died!
Natasha was one of the original members of the Champions, so Bobby really can't get a break, which is fantastic in terms of storytelling because that's going to continue to push him to sort of level up, be stronger, and be more present and aware.
None of the Champions are in a particularly good mood, and in honor of Legacy everyone is kind of in a different place than they were when they were the Champions. So it's really great to kind of play with those dynamics for as much as I can in 40 pages
Robert, Iceman #6 is where you take over art chores on the book. What's it like drawing Bobby Drake, a character who can do all sorts of amazing and visual things with his powers?
Robert Gill: I think it's great. You can pull off some really awesome visuals with his ice powers. There's the standard ice sled, but there's also the things he can come up with as far as weapons.
In between Sina's writing and him leaving stuff up to me to come up with this book is a really great opportunity to let your imagination go wild and see what you can come up with. That's been a lot of fun.
What's your sense of Bobby Drake as a character? Which of his physical and emotional qualities do you want to make sure you capture and convey in your depictions of him?
Gill: I think Bobby Drake is a pretty everyday kind of dude. He's got a lot of the same personality traits as probably you or I. He's very down to Earth. He just happens to have this mutant power that allows him to be part of the X-Men and do all this crazy stuff.
So I think it's pretty cool to be able to sort of put myself in there and ask how I would handle some of these situations? Plus, he's pretty straightforward in both his superhero and civilian identities. So conveying his emotions in his ice form is pretty easy to do. He's not wearing some crazy costume that might have some elements that would get in the way of that. You can take full advantage of his facial expressions and body language. There's a lot of opportunity to get that across.