Months (years?) of anxious anticipation culminate in Iceman #5, as Bobby goes through his most intense and affecting coming out yet: telling his parents that he is gay.
The issue picks up where #4 left off, right after the telling words leave Bobby’s mouth. The best decision writer Sina Grace makes here is to spend very little time away from this pivotal moment in Bobby’s life. Nothing is rushed, and even the battle against Juggernaut is focused upon Bobby’s character growth, in terms of both emotional stability and superpower limitations. These two aspects of the character have long been linked, and Sina merges them beautifully. Using control over powers as a reflection of a character’s mental state could potentially be done sloppily or feel too obvious metaphorically, but Grace handles the concept, well, gracefully.
Graceful is a good word to describe the writing throughout. All of the major characters present have perfectly honed voices, and it feels vital to the narrative’s authenticity that Bobby’s parents don’t respond well to his coming out. Bobby’s father in particular drops lines that sting to read, and the interactions between son and parents here are fully believable. This issue’s developments read truthfully as just the latest amongst years of shame and pain inflicted by and against loved ones. Bobby’s emotional troubles are well-grounded and it is easy to sympathize, but even more so, it is easy to feel proud of him as he accomplishes some of the hardest feats in his decades-long history.
My main cons with this issue pertain to the artwork. The visuals are never bad, but they don’t feel as tight and fully realized as in previous issues. Alessandro Vitti’s pencils feel more rushed more frequently than usual. Characters’ bodies (and faces, in particular) sometimes feel like they haven’t quite been adequately shaped or detailed. On the plus side, the characters’ faces are still very emotive, the background line-work is well-rendered, and the visuals in the battle scene are great as Bobby utilizes his powers in new, unexpected ways. Similarly, Rachelle Rosenberg’s color work here has ups and downs. It’s never outright bad, just not as good as in some other issues. The differences in coloration between the foregrounds and backgrounds often make objects appear to be further off in the distance than they actually are, and as a result the characters don’t always feel fully present in the world around them. This works really well in the atmospheric, snowy final scene of the issue, but it’s slightly jarring earlier on.
Overall, Iceman #5 is great. Above all else, it depicts a pivotal day in Bobby’s life, and it never lost my interest while doing so. Just as Bobby’s emotions run on high throughout, I felt fully invested in seeing what each page would bring for the character. There are portions of this comic that are painful to the read, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Though the art has its faults, it is still well-done, and anyone who loves emotionally charged, character-driven X-Men stories should definitely pick this issue up.