Bizarre Adventures #27 (July 1981)
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: 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.