By Ben Morse
X-MEN: SCHISM has kicked off a startling metamorphosis in the mutant corner of the Marvel Universe that will split the Children of the Atom and lead to Regenesis in the fall along with two new ongoing series, each featuring its own distinctive team: UNCANNY X-MEN and WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN.
With change in the air, here on Marvel.com we’ll be regularly gathering the creators and editors responsible for guiding the X-Men’s destiny to dissect each of their charges to examine what makes them tick and perhaps lend some insight into where they will find themselves once the Schism ends and the Regenesis gets underway.
This week, we focus on Iceman, a founding member and mainstay of the X-Men. He grew up with Cyclops and the rest, but did he fall behind in that maturation process somewhere along the way? Has he yet to hit his best days? And what affiliations could best unlock his potential?
How would you describe the core of who Iceman is and what is most important to him?
Jason Aaron (writer of X-MEN: SCHISM, upcoming writer of WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN): Bobby is a wily vet of the X-Men at this point, and like any veteran of any war, what's most important to him are his friends and the relationships he's made along the way.
Kieron Gillen (writer of UNCANNY X-MEN): You know the old power [equals] personality super hero trope? So the character’s ability in some way illustrates something about their true nature? It's best shown in its classical sense in the X-Men with The White Queen turning into a diamond. Well, the X-Men have a tendency of inverting that particular flourish. They lean towards irony. While they can play along, they can flip. So you get things like the primal Beast being by far the most erudite, and relevantly, arguably the most openly, shamelessly, warmly human of the original X-Men turns into ice.
And it's easy to spin that one off into a “the X-Men are about prejudice and prejudice is about believing you know everything about someone just by a surface appearance, hence their powers tend to deconstruct that” argument. Another time, eh?
What's more important to him? Friends, really. Without friends and human connections, it's all pointless.
Victor Gischler (writer of X-MEN): I think Iceman wants to belong someplace. He's spent most of his Marvel history joining the X-Men then leaving to be a Champion or a Defender and then coming back again. I think he's just trying his best to be comfortable in his own icy skin.
What is Iceman's view of how the mutant race should conduct itself moving forward? How does this contrast or conflict with others?
Victor Gischler: He's very much about preservation.
Jason Aaron: Bobby's always been more of a follower than a leader, and a guy who doesn't always speak out enough, so I don't know that we really know his views on this—though that may soon change.
What are the biggest changes Bobby Drake has undergone from when he first set foot in Xavier's School through to today?
Kieron Gillen: Puberty.
I'm joking, of course, but there's a special pressure on the youngest in any social group. It always changes people, and how people respond to it says a lot. Some people overcompensate to it. I look at my brother, who hung with me a lot, learned everything I was good at, and basically ended up as Me V2.0, Improved, with all the bugs removed. And hair. So, in another world, you could imagine Iceman ending up just as stiff as Scott.
He didn't go that way. I think as much as he's grown, what's most surprising is how much of the youthfulness he's managed to hold onto. When you've suffered as much of the X-men have, that's actually an achievement.
Jason Aaron: Well, he doesn't look like a snowman anymore, for one thing.
Victor Gischler: On a practical level, he's learned to be more innovative with his powers. He's also grown up a little bit although it is sometimes a slow process.
Where does Iceman rank among the X-Men as far as respect of his peers? Is he viewed in the same light as the other founding members?
Jason Aaron: I think he's one of the most respected and loved of the X-Men. He's everybody's favorite uncle. But I don't think he's looked at in quite the same light as the other founders. And that's mostly his own fault, for never really living up to his full potential.
Victor Gischler: I think Bobby would be the first to say he needs a little more respect.
Kieron Gillen: I think he's respected more than he realizes. I think that he doesn't realize it is one of the reasons they respect him.
Has Iceman come close to achieving his full potential? Why or why not?
Kieron Gillen: I don't know where the idea that Bobby doesn't live up to his full potential has come from. He's got a degree in Accountancy! Yes, Jean became a psychic creature that devoured entire worlds, but she'd be useless if you needed some carefully balanced double-entered books.
Really though? I'm a little reticent about the idea that he hasn't reached his full potential. As if someone's powers were the only reason they exist. Bobby has made good friends and he's stayed loyal to them. This is no small thing.
Victor Gischler: There's a lot of potential there. The right writer is going to make it happen. I've heard through the grapevine there is some cool stuff headed our way with Iceman. I'm looking forward to it.
Jason Aaron: No, he's hasn't, either power-wise or in terms of leadership ability. Bobby has [mostly] just preferred to be a follower and to keep to the fringes of the X-Men. He's never really stepped up like he's capable of doing. And we've been teased for years now that he's a mega-powerful Omega level mutant, but we've only ever seen glimpses of that. Again though, that may soon change. In the wake of Schism, Bobby will be forced to step up like never before.
Has Bobby Drake ever fully grown up? Does he want to?
Victor Gischler: If you fully grow up, then you get an extra dose of responsibility. Not everyone wants that.
Kieron Gillen: I think a Bobby Drake who doesn't at some level think it's funny to throw a snow-ball at someone isn't a Bobby Drake I'd like to have around.
How has Iceman's relationship with Cyclops evolved over the years? Does Bobby believe in what Scott is trying to achieve with Utopia?
Kieron Gillen: I think Bobby has his doubts. The first time I wrote Bobby was in the second issue of [the Fear Itself tie-in], where his first instinct was to try and save Colossus from falling—which Cyclops tells him off for wasting his time, and then Bobby immediately “apologizes” for still having human feelings. I think that scene says a lot about where he is right now.
I think he believes what he's trying to achieve on Utopia. I don't think he's entirely convinced by Cyclops’ methods.
Jason Aaron: I think Bobby still believes in Xavier's dream and figures this is the closest thing to it right now. He also trusts Scott. He's been following Scott for most of his adult life at this point, from the X-Men to X-Factor and back again. At this point, I think he's a bit settled and never even thinks about going a different direction. But then, schisms have a way of changing that.
Do Iceman's past issues with Emma Frost strain his friendship with Cyclops?
Victor Gischler: Bobby does have the ability to hold a grudge as we saw when Polaris went for Havok instead of him. But he has the ability to eventually get over a grudge too.
Kieron Gillen: I think Cyclops is straining his relationship with Bobby enough by himself.
Who among the X-Men is Iceman closest to? Who does he trust most?
Jason Aaron: The rest of the original X-Men, particularly Beast and Angel. But then, Bobby has no idea what Warren's been up to lately with X-Force, does he?
Who does Iceman believe should lead the X-Men?
Jason Aaron: Read Kieron's X-Men: Regenesis special and find out.
Does Iceman have any desire to lead the X-Men himself? Would he be capable of doing so?
Victor Gischler: As alluded to before, he might have just a little more growing up to do first.
Jason Aaron: I think that'd be interesting to see, but I don't know that he's ready for that just yet.
Kieron Gillen: Last time we talked , I believe I said that Psylocke would have no interest in running the X-Men, but would probably do a decent job of it if she did. I think Bobby has no desire to lead the X-Men, but also think that he'd be terrible at it if he did. I also think that while he's just temperamentally uninterested in it is a bit part of not wanting it, also knowing he wouldn't be much cop at it plays into it.
X-MEN: SCHISM #4 hits stores September 21, Regenesis commences this fall, and the X-Perts reconvene soon right here on Marvel.com! And be sure to visit our X-Men: Schism event page!