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Tuesday, April 21, 2015 

What would Jack Kirby think of Brian Bendis' retcon to Bobby Drake?

Another retcon's been made to an X-Man for politically correct pandering:
Bobby Drake, otherwise known as classic X-Men member Iceman, will come out of the closet this week. In a collection of leaked panels from All-New X-Men #40, due out tomorrow, Drake finds himself outed by fellow teammate Jean Grey. The revelation makes Iceman one of the most prominent (and powerful) LGBT superheroes in Marvel comics, and is in keeping with the company's push for more diversity among its characters.

The circumstances surrounding the character's coming out are unique, to say the least. Readers discover that the past, teenaged Bobby Drake, who has been transported to the future along with the original X-Men to help solve a crisis, is gay. Meanwhile, the present-day Iceman — who is still very much around — has had relationships with multiple women in the past. Apparently, that was an act
Just look how they report this with nary a critique whether it's necessary to turn an established character into something he was never intended to be. What would Jack Kirby have thought? I recall reading once that he was angry at a Superman story John Byrne wrote where Big Barda became a mind slave to a diminutive alien from Apokalips called Sleez, mainly because Barda was inspired by his own beloved wife. I see no reason to assume he'd think any differently if he found out about this mess.
And the most aggravating thing about this is, it all appears to be based on "fan speculation":
For years, fans have speculated about the sexuality of Bobby Drake, AKA Iceman from the X-Men. Specifically, fans have speculated that Iceman is gay. Despite dating women over the years, a lot of fans have felt it's been hinted at in stories, and Chuck Austen in particular seemed to really run with it. Well, according to leaked pages from this week's All-New X-Men #40, the cat is out of the bag and Iceman is out of the closet, as Jean Grey reveals his secret and he admits that it's true.
Austen? IIRC, he was once panned as one of the worst writers on the series. But if he wrote it today, I'm sure critical reception in particular would've been a wholly different story. On the other hand, I must take issue with this claim "fans speculated". I certainly didn't, and I think what they're insinuating stemmed from the selfish visions of kooks who wanted everything done their way. I'd say it was all just seeing what they wanted to, without a single critique for writers whether their characterization is good or bad. If they're using the notion that Bobby's failed relations with some of his past girlfriends justifies this new time-warp mishmash, that's ridiculous, because tons of men and women have fallouts and disagreements, and don't always find the mate who's right for them. Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark must've had plenty of failed affairs years before, and does that somehow make them closet cases? Of course not. This is just another effort to hijack the X-Men for PC pandering, all at the expense of the hard work by pros of the past.

I also think the claim Bobby dated Kitty Pryde is not accurate; I certainly don't know of any stories where this took place (unless it may have taken place just a few years ago, when Bendis came aboard). And the biggest victim in this new Bendis story besides Bobby himself (and Kirby's memories) has got to be Jean Grey. She penetrates his mind without permission, and what Bendis is writing her doing is more like insulting his intellect. So in a manner of speaking, he's making her into a baddie. No surprise, really. It's already clear to most that his take on women in his superhero writing is very poor.

On a related note, when Grant Morrison was writing X-Men, he injected a contrived scene at one point where Beast tells the reporter Trish Tilby he's "gay" either supposedly to keep her away from the mansion when it was being attacked by villains, or out of revenge for some contrived reason. Even if it was supposed to be a joke, it was very poor, and disrespectful to better writers and artists who worked on X-Men.

And again, I don't think Kirby would've been very happy with what they're doing to Bobby and Jean.

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Bobby dated Kitty in Jason Aaron's Wolverine and the X-Men. It was brief and ended when Bendis got the characters. And to address the "fan speculation," that was all insults to the character.

I really hope that this is only this version of Iceman and the main version is still straight because it is even said on panel that the present Iceman is straight. I just hope Bendis doesn't decide to "awaken something in him" or "out" him.

I take it Bendis took that Family Guy cutaway about Bobby too seriously as a idea

I don't know about Kirby, but to me its a sign of a writer running out of ideas.

Not to mention Bobby and Lorna Dane back in the day ...

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