This week, Brian Michael Bendis basically lowered himself to Chuck Austen’s level on the X-Men writer totem pole, at least in my humble opinion. All-New X-Men #40 came out on Wednesday, and that’s not the only thing that came out.
Bobby Drake, is, apparently, homosexual.
Now, I shouldn’t have to say that I don’t have a problem with homosexuality, but we still live in that world, so: I don’t have a problem with homosexuality. Having said that, Bendis’ revelation regarding Iceman is about as nonsensical as Nightcrawler being retconned as the son of a demon during Chuck Austen’s infamous run on Uncanny X-Men a few years back.
There are several issues with this reveal. First of all, Iceman has a documented, decades-long love for vajayjay. Him being an immature horndog has been, on more than one occasion, one of his primary, defining characteristics. The Iceman who comes out is the 16 year-old version brought forward in time (along with the rest of the original team; that’s the basic premise of All-New X-Men, for those who didn’t know). You know how all sorts of ignorant or bigoted folks run their mouths about how “homosexuality is a choice?” And then gay folks and their supporters come back with, “If it’s a choice, prove it by choosing to take a dick in the ass, since that’s all there is to it?” Well apparently, at least to Bendis, Bobby Drake’s been choosing to be straight since his introduction in 1962.
Then there’s the manner in which Iceman’s sexuality is brought to light. Iceman doesn’t come out of the closet–young Jean, his fellow time-lost teammate, goes into his thoughts and exposes him! So, here’s Bobby Drake, who’s been around telepaths his entire life–to include Charles Xavier, the most powerful psychic in the Marvel Universe–but only now does one pick up on him being gay? I call bullshit. Back in the 90’s, Iceman’s body was actually taken over by a telepath, the then comatose White Queen, Emma Frost.
But it gets worse. Say we replace Iceman in this situation with a brand-new character, who’s sexuality hasn’t been established. We still have Jean Grey invading a person’s mind. As far as comic book telepaths go, a willingness to do this sort of crap is what defines the good guys from the bad guys. There’s always been a morality to the use of psychic powers, that hinges on trust and concern for others. Jean Grey totally broke this. He even told her to stop. Even the US military, up until a couple years ago, had a law in effect that basically said, “it’s not our business; we don’t want to know.” Bendis had Jean break one of the cardinal rules of Marvel telepaths and shove her friend out of the closet.
So we not only have one character being portrayed contrary to his decades-long established nature, we have another one violating what should be one of her core values in order to get us there. Nice work, Bendis. Of course, there are a variety of viewpoints floating around on the Internet regarding all this. Nerdist thinks its a good idea. There’s at least one gay comics reader who thinks along the same lines as me. And Billy Graham’s son Franklin took the time to try turning it into a religious issue.
For my part, if Bendis wanted to tweak an existing character’s sexuality that bad, there were better ways to go about it. Bobby feeling “experimental” or something, or wanting to explore a new part of himself by trying a relationship with a dude…well, it would still piss off the religious right (not that that’s a bad thing) but at least it wouldn’t fly in the face of canon. And for sure, it could have been done without Jean taking the choice out of Bobby’s hands. I hope whatever new status quo there is for the X-Men after Secret Wars washes all this away. And they should make that Azazel storyline not have happened, too.