In another marketing move by Marvel Comics, to somehow make their comic line more politically correct and in its own mind, relevant and forward thinking. They outed Bobby Drake, The Iceman, as a closeted gay male superhero. This act, and let’s be honest, this is all it really was, was received with the usual accolades from everywhere except for the comic book world itself.
Let’s review how this came about. Drake makes a sexist, sophomoric comment about a female member of the X-Men and is called out on it by Jean Grey. With her ability to read minds, and how is this not a huge invasion of privacy, Jean confronts Drake about his sexuality, which after two pages of denial and back and forth banter, he finally admits that it is true.
Why doesn’t it matter? Because Bobby Drake’s sexuality has nothing to do with the storyline. It may in the future but for now it was a two page diversion to garner readership for a title that is struggling to gain any recognition. Besides, it’s Bobby Drake, the Iceman. The only original X-Man who has done little to nothing that contributes to the mythos that is the X-Men. He is basically a throw away character. So for Marvel, a safe one to do this with. No risk. No daring. Typical Marvel. They have simply dipped their proverbial toe into the pool to check the temperature.
This is another move in Marvel’s recent history to make their comics more appealing to what they think is the general populace by changing established characters. Thor becomes a woman. Ms. Marvel is Muslim. Spider-man (not the Peter Parker version) is multi-racial. These moves are marketing ploys, though in the Spider-man move the character of Miguel O’Hara and Miles Morales as future Spider-man has gathered a good fan following. And now one of the X-Men is gay. These moves will end in failure because they are ploys and nothing more. They lack the integrity due to a real character and as such lack the commitment from Marvel and its stable of writers and artists to do them justice.
Before anyone gets offended and cries PC! PC! PC!
This has nothing to do with homosexuality. The truth is homosexuality in comic books is nothing new. In fact, most comic book publishing houses have had major gay characters for some time. DC has had Batwoman, Kate Kane in 2006. In Batman, Detective Rene Montoya is gay, a fact that is carried forth in the TV series Gotham. Wildstorm Comics’, Authority series had two of its major characters as openly gay lovers. Apollo and Midnighter, who actually married and adopted a son. Marvel itself has Northstar, who marries his partner Kyle Jinadu in Atonishing X-Men back in June of 2012. Recently, Legacy’s Circle began its series with the main focus being on one of its superheroes and his struggle with maintaining not just his secret identity, but the fact that he was a gay man as well. A secret that found out, is being used against him by none other than FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
So if Marvel really wanted to make a splash with this, they could have. But instead they did as Marvel tends to do. Play it safe and just go for the publicity. If they wanted to show support for the gay community, they could have had Drake come out on his own, an announcement much in line with Spider-man revealing he is Peter Parker during the Civil War series. But instead they offer up the Iceman, confused and confronted by Jean Grey and then outed against his own protests until he is guilted into the truth. Is that the message we want to send to our gay youth? Say who and what we say you are or we will humiliate you in front of your peers. Smooth move Marvel.
So, instead of Bobby Drake, I would like to offer up my thoughts on what major Marvel character could pull off being gay –
- Nightcrawler – the emotional and mental conflict between his religious beliefs and his sexuality would make for some of the most intriguing and compelling writing. In the right hands.
- DeadPool – Come on, you know you can see this already. Let the hilarity ensue.
- Silver Surfer – this would be a story of love denied and incredible introspection. Another aspect of his outsider personality, the Surfer sails the galaxies for a love hidden from him because the Surfer is hiding from himself.
- Johnny Storm (The Human Torch) – his inablility to maintain a real relationship with a female of the human species is well documented. He’s carried on with one of the InHumans and Namorita, from Atlantis. His most lasting and strongest relationship has actually been with Peter Parker, Spider-man.
So is society and the comic book world ready for a gay superhero? We are and have been since Alpha Flight #106 (1992) when Northstar states, “I am gay.” All by himself without Jean Grey reading his mind and being forced out of the closet. No one dipped their toe in the waters back then, they stepped back and dove in. So why the lack of courage now Marvel?
Because it was never about having a gay superhero. It was about getting attention and ending up being mentioned on the View. It was fake and contrived. A publicity stunt.
Bobby Drake, straight or gay, deserves better. So does the comic book community at large.