Friday, July 19, 2013

An Obscure Iceman Story: Bizarre Adventures 27

Bizarre Adventures #27 (July 1981)
"Winter Carnival"
Jo Duffy-George Perez/Alfredo Alcala

Doug:  Welcome to the second installment of our 3-part look at the "secret lives of the X-Men".  If you'll recall in my first review from this magazine (of the Phoenix story), I commented at the end about today's story and remarked that George Perez would be on the pencils.  While the art is not bad at all (in fact, it's lush, gorgeous, and whatever other positive superlative you want to heap on it), I just don't see a typical George Perez job.  It is inker Alfredo Alcala who is the real shining star of the artwork.  Help me out with your own observations once you get to the bottom.  Shall we?

Doug:  The Iceman story is 17 pages long, and that was OK for me.  Really, it could have been shorter and I'd have probably been happier.  I thought the Phoenix story was a bit of a stretch (Attuma?) conceptually, and it was written by her usual scribe, Chris Claremont.  As you see above, today's writer is Jo Duffy.  I honestly can't say I recall anything she wrote in the 1980's, although I'm sure I encountered her work more than a few times.  This story was somewhat burdensome to get through -- it's just pretty straightforward, never really grabs the reader...  It's not horrible, but I don't feel like I got any bang out of the time I've spent reading it twice and writing this up.  It wasn't like "Man, I cannot wait to get to the keyboard and tell everyone about this!"  Some of our readers have left us comments in the past questioning why we review comics we don't like/give glowing reviews to?  As I think Karen and/or I replied, isn't that a reflection of the true comics reading experience?  I wish my cup was always half full; unfortunately, it's often half empty!  I've not read the Nightcrawler tale as of this writing, but it will be coming your way in August.

Doug:  We open at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, where "visiting" sophomore Bobby Drake has rolled onto campus to attend the Winter Carnival.  There was an ice sculpture contest or some such thing prior to his arrival, and the outdoor common areas are filled with beautiful ice sculptures depicting this year's theme -- super-heroes!  Bobby stops to admire a rendition of his pal the Angel and says how much Warren would love it.  Bobby notices that the Angel is the only X-Man in the lot, so rectifies that by whipping up an ice sculpture of himself, complete with the Champions logo on its belt.  As he admires it, a group of students stops by and complains that the new sculpture blocks the view of their fraternity house.  They ask if Bobby knows where it came from; he denies it, but then launches a snowball right at the kid who asked.  A melee ensues with some good fun.  It's broken up suddenly by a scream for help.

Doug:  Some thugs emerge from an academic building, with a professorial-type calling after them that they've stolen parts to the new campus computer system.  Now this having been written in 1981, I'm thinking they've bagged some Apple II-E's or Commodore-64's!  Anyway, they have some sorts of guns that can be set to "stun", and use those in their getaway attempt.  Bobby says to himself "who would rob a school" -- which I thought was an odd comment -- and then ices up and handles the baddies with no trouble at all.  He's thanked by the campus police, and everyone seems to recover quickly enough from their "stunning".  The community mobs him, incredulous that a real super-hero is among them.  They implore him to stay for the Winter Carnival, and he agrees.  The next two pages are pretty fun, as we see Bobby Drake really cut loose in an all-out effort to bring joy to the students.  At the end of the scene he thinks to himself, "I never realized up until now how great it is to solo.  For once, I'm alone... not getting lost in a team.  These people are cheering for ME!"

Doug:  Later that evening, Iceman reclines with some students when in walks Lt. Jimmy D'Angelo, who is an alumnus and has been asked by campus police to lend a hand to the investigation.  It seems that the components the thieves were after were designed by Dr. Henry Pym and had something to do with cybernetics.  They were being tested on campus.  The lieutenant wants to know if anyone saw the guy who pulled the alarm.  This sparks an investigation into an employee who works in the math dept. -- a man who no one can name.  Bobby decides to investigate on his own.  We then cut to a building off campus where the Dartmouth employee in question, a man called Thatcher, supervises the same thugs we witnessed earlier in the story.  It seems the heist was all a fake, designed to actually smuggle a man inside the building so that the real components of their desire could be stolen later -- a feat they seem to have accomplished.

Doug:  As the baddies move across campus in the wee hours of the morning, they pass the row of super-hero sculptures.  The professor gloats to himself about how they will get away with their plot -- no Avengers, no Fantastic Four, no X-Men to stop them.  That is, until he notices that they've passed not one, but two Iceman sculptures.  Guess what? Six pages of pretty intense fighting ensues, with Iceman at one point getting thawed out by a blaster ray.  There are some great visuals in this long scene, as you can see from the sample pages and panels.  In the end, Bobby nabs his guy, saves the day, and finds himself -- even though in an encounter with Lt. D'Angelo the cop asks Iceman if he's so great, then why isn't he well known?  I think this was really sort of a coming of age story for the Iceman; unfortunately (for him), it didn't go anywhere.

Doug:  One could almost see this being a sort of launching pad for a solo series.  However, since this was on the stands several years ahead of a book like Marvel Comics Presents, I don't know what the vehicle would have been.  There was an Iceman mini-series, but that wasn't published until 1984 (and looking at the covers, I wouldn't think it to have been very good in spite of a Marc DeMatteis script).  As I'd said about the Phoenix story, I'm not sure why this was created if not specifically for this magazine. It's again too long for a back-up story, and judging by Alfredo Alcala's beautiful inks and use of wash it was never intended for four color publication.  So it's just sort of "out there"; not sure if we should consider it canon or not.  What it ends up being is a sort of quite-beautiful-but-middling tale of one of Marvel's C-list heroes.


Rip Jagger said...

Ah to be Iceman in these all too sultry summer days. Bobby Drake, we need you now.

Rip Off

Edo Bosnar said...

I suppose if I re-read it today, I'd have a different opinion, but back when this issue came out I ate up all three of these solo X-men stories. This one I liked in particular because Iceman never got any specific attention anywhere else - as he notes himself in the story.
And can't argue with you assessment of the art; again, I thought the art was gorgeous in all three stories.

J.A. Morris said...

Thanks for writing about this one Karen. It almost feels like the sort of thing that would've been published in Marvel Premiere or used as a backup in a Treasury-sized comic.

If Perez did anything,I'd guess it was very rough layouts. With New Teen Titans #1 bearing a "November 1980" cover date, I'd guess Perez was pretty much gone from Marvel by the time this story was published.

For what it's worth, there's a color version of this story reprinted here:

And the Iceman mini-series that Karen mentioned has recently been reprinted and contains this Bizarre Adventures story as well:

Karen said...

Glad you liked the post J.A., but this one was 100% Doug -I had nothing to do with it! He deserves all the kudos!

Anonymous said...

Great topic, i really appreciate a frosty Iceman story during the heat wave we have here in Delaware.

I also can't wait to get some time this weekend to read Karen's article in the new BACK ISSUE! I'll let you know what I think.


david_b said...

Eh, it was someone's story idea, which would have worked as a backup X-Men story in some Annual or in this type of venue as basically a try-out story.

Nothing much of interest.

Looking forward to getting that BACK ISSUE with Karen's article. Read a bit from the .pdf on-line.

J.A. Morris said...

Whoops, sorry about that, thanks to Doug for this post!
I guess I was thinking of yesterday's topic. Now I'm thinking of Iceman freezing up a Slip N Slide!

Karen said...

Guys, I hope you enjoy the Back Issue article. This was one of the more challenging ones to write. I've been reading this issue cover to cover -it's been packed with great articles. I just started the Inhumans one last night. They've all been entertaining.

I do wish we'd gotten a couple of articles on the Defenders though. i think they deserved it. The writer of the Defenders article was given a pretty tough task, to cover the entire history in such limited space. I would have enjoyed seeing a more expansive set of articles, perhaps one on the early years (Englehart, Wein,Gerber, maybe Kraft), and then the later years. But it's still a very solid issue.

Garett said...

Karen what is the issue # and what are you writing about?

Doug said...

Garrett -

See our sidebar on the main page.


Anonymous said...

Nice Iceman story here, nothing earth-shattering, just a solo story highlighting the coldest member of the original X-men.

This looks like an attempt by the Marvel to see if Bobby could carry a solo title by himself, if the feedback was great enough. I've always thought that he was one of the most underutilized characters even from the very earliest days of the X-men. Despite being later classified as an Omega level mutant, he didn't have Cyclops' brooding nature, the Beast's sharp mind and eloquent sayings or Angel's privileged background; he was portrayed as a typical average teenager with a normal upbringing. Not exactly the character background which attracts flocks of readers.

- Mike 'looking forward to seeing the Nightcrawler feature. Bamf!' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Garett said...

Thanks Doug. I checked out the preview...this looks great Karen! I'm going to pick this up.

Icefanatic said...

The Iceman story in Bizarre Adventures was originally intended for an issue of Marvel Spotlight. Bob Layton had already done the cover, and it was used in an ad for the upcoming Spotlight issue in the Marvel News Watch section of Comics Journal #54 (Mar. 1980). Unfortunately MS was cancelled before it could run there, so the story was moved to BA, and given a new cover that represented all three X-Men appearing in the issue.

Related Posts with Thumbnails