Written by Julia Wros
SDSU History Master’s Student, 2021
In the world of X-men, mutants face social stigma for their mutations. Some of these “mutants” banded together to create the X-men, a team of superheroes to combat this discrimination. One of the original X-men was Iceman, Bobby Drake, who joined when he was a teen and became a core member of the X-men and a popular superhero.
In the 2017 run of Iceman, Bobby’s struggles with being a mutant are more family-oriented, with his father not supporting his career as a superhero and his mother backing his father up on that. We can see this dynamic on the page shown, where Bobby’s dad tells him not to discuss mutant business at the table, saying that mutants are allowed to be themselves all the time, and that no one was angry about mutants anymore, while also suggesting that mutantism is not “normal.”
This line from Bobby’s father resonates in my mind with how queerness is treated in families, and with the way that dialogue can take place over the dinner table. The way that his dad discusses how mutants can be “out” in public, without anyone being mad about it, is similar to discussions that may be had around the dinner table when it comes to discussions that can happen around pride.
The scene also takes place at the dinner table, with Bobby’s parents on one side with the food spread in between them. They present a united front against Bobby, all framed as a family discussion around the dinner table, with Bobby on one side alone.
Reinforcing this connection is Bobby’s parents’ reaction to his coming out, shown later in the volume, where their first reaction is to blame each other. His mom blames his dad’s side of the family, both for passing on mutant genes and gayness. Everyone and everything around Bobby is blamed for his sexuality – his ex-girlfriend, genetics, mutantism – without considering that it is as much a part of Bobby as his powers over ice.
They also talk about him as if he is not there, as the argument devolves into the two of them trying to pass the blame. It becomes a fight as Kitty Pryde tries to stand up for him, but only devolves further, ending with Bobby’s father saying that Bobby is dead and that Iceman wins. This dual sense of identity and pronunciation of death is something that many LGBT+ readers may be familiar with as a common thing that parents have said to their children upon their coming out.
Bobby’s experience is a real one, even as a superhero this part of normal life is strikingly familiar to many readers and helps to give an even further human element to one of the most well-known X-men.