While Iceman has had his heart broken once and then stomped on a second time by Mystique, don’t think this X-Man hangs his head alone each night as a single tear drips (and then freezes) down his cheek. Bobby Drake — who is a thirty year-old man still going by the name Bobby — has had quite a fair amount of lovers and girlfriends. Today, he attacks all of them, but we’ll get to that. In Astonishing X-Men #62-65, written by Majorie Liu and drawn by Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Iceman currently dates Kitty Pryde. She’s way out of his league.
But the title of the article includes Iceman and Mystique, so what’s she up to nowadays?
Mystique only takes baths because she was born before showers were invented. Look, this arc doesn’t focus solely on our two former lovers. Mystique only contains a part of the story that leads up to character development through the influences of his ex-girlfriends. But unlike Kitty, Opal, Lorna, and Annie — his other flames — only our shapeshifting supervillain knows when something’s wrong. After all, she’s instigated these sorts of situations for decades.
While the next scene doesn’t really advance the narrative, you want to see Mystique fight Gambit?
Tentacles are new to Mystique, I know. She had some power boosts recently. But something is wrong with Iceman, and at least she’s making an effort to correct this problem. Probably more so she doesn’t get attacked in the bathtub again than out of genuine affection for the X-Man, but let’s be fair — Bobby’s morals rest squarely in the category of superheroes that don’t ambush naked ex-girlfriends from a shower drain.
Notice the harsh words our dear Bobby uses? If you can’t tell something’s off, you will now:
So a month ago, the X-Men fought some Celestials (giant alien gods?) and a shard of Apocalypse went missing. You can probably guess where it is. Y’see, because while Beast, a man of eloquent speech and even more eloquent science, fights the good fight to save and protect mankind, his alternative dimension supervillain self — creatively titled Dark Beast — tends to do the opposite. Like shoving a shard of pure evil into Iceman’s frozen chest.
Now, Mystique is tough. She can take damage far beyond that of normal people, but she’s by no means invulnerable. And even with her flailing tentacle powers, she doesn’t stand a chance of beating Iceman, much less evil huge Iceman. But her strengths have always lied in manipulation and deceit. Her words hold far more power than any gun or laser beam, and her patience borders on legendary. Why not let the stronger people do all the heavy lifting until opportunity arises? Watch her brilliance:
If you read the dialogue again, Mystique tells not one lie. She just meshes easier with supervillains, which currently describes huge winged Iceman. Though dear Mystique has the same personality mishaps that all Marvel characters possess, at least her desires never change. She only wants one thing: everything.
Oh, and the big guns get called in to deal with this chilly problem.
And witness Apocalypse Shard Mystique:
Y’see, she told Iceman the truth right from the very beginning. She didn’t want him, she wanted what he had — namely that piece of Apocalypse power he had lodged in his chest. When Thor eventually emerges victorious and shatters our antagonist, Mystique seizes her chance. And then gets beaten. But more importantly, she allows Iceman to embrace that side of his personality he suppressed since childhood. Supervillainy is all the joy and none of the moral responsibility.
Since this moment, the two haven’t had any significant interactions. I’m sure they will again one day, but we know which line Bobby chooses. Despite a terrible youth, being hated by his own country, and accidentally destroying the lives of hundreds of people, Iceman will always be a hero. We love superheroes because we admire those that rise up from adversity even as it’s kicking them on the ground. But you know what we love more? When superheroes rise up from that adversity in giant ice monster combat.
The love part of our story has long since ended. The two aren’t so much exes as bitter, vengeful monsters that prey on trust to deliver fatal emotional blows. Well, the blue one anyway. Today, we check out X-Men: Manifest Destiny #1-5, written by Mike Carey and drawn by Michael Ryan, that forces us to recall when Mystique delicately placed neural inhibitors in her lady parts to defeat Iceman a few issues later. His problem’s flaring up again, like a robot STD.
At least this time Iceman has a loving and caring girlfriend by his side. It’s a delicate time in his life to be eradicating Mystique residue from his body (and memories), but what could go wrong here? Certainly not months of planned relationship building serving only to heighten the sharp pain of another broken heart, right?
He doesn’t deserve this. But you know the whole deal with supervillains — even their good intentions are caked in murder, deception, and trauma. And by good intentions, I mean to turn their targets into unfeeling lying murderers. Mystique, despite being born in the late 1800s, still hasn’t evolved past that idea. Anyway, Iceman survives, though not for much longer at this rate.
What’s she want with him? Something villainous to pass the time mainly, but she does claim all this nonsense and life-ruining in the name of science. Unwilling and non-consensual science.
Over the past decade or so, Iceman has evolved into a phenomenal powerhouse. He’s practically invulnerable, able to splinter himself into different bodies, and may very well qualify as a top level Omega mutant. Y’know, the mutants with unimaginable power like Jean Grey, Vulcan, Franklin Richards, etc. She’s attempting to either callously push Bobby Drake to his full potential or kill off a man she showed weakness in front of. Either one fits her usual M.O.
Oh, he also survives the syringe.
It’s probably not a good strategy to rely on Mystique tapping into her sentimentality. She’s legitimately a psychopath, and no amount of nostalgia or good vibes will allow her to release the trigger. But remember that whole thing about Iceman being crazy powerful?
Iceman follows a fairly standard Marvel personality protocol: despite amazing superpowers, superheroes’ biggest enemies usually ends up being themselves. Self-loathing, guilt, anger, mistrust, doubt, etc. Mystique figures she could give Iceman that confidence he so sorely needs. It’s what has held back his powers for all those years and allows him to keep his frustrated school boy persona. Iceman may be many things, but mature isn’t one of them.
Luckily, growth takes baby steps, and their final confrontation of today gives Iceman that tiny victory. Oh, Mystique called in a bomb threat over a San Francisco bridge. She’s a flirt.
Look, no matter what the nursery rhyme says, words hurt. Sometimes far more than ice beams and gun shots can. Because while Mystique leaves this fight physically unharmed, Bobby unleashes a kung fu blast right in her cold, dead heart.
Luckily, if you agree with Iceman’s diagnosis, then you experienced a delightful burst of character development for our shapeshifting supervillain. If you believe Iceman’s talking out his butt, that’s fine too; it’s only his opinion and not the opinion of Marvel or any of the wildly angry fans that yell from YouTube videos — though personally, I agree with Iceman. And that brief moment of revenge she promises? That’s for Monday.
It’ll be three parts total, but only today will have the romance and passion that comes from a comic book relationship. Superheroes fall in love so much harder and so much faster than us real-life folks. Maybe the DC and Marvel universes exists entirely inside an Axe Body Spray commercial. Though definitely try to enjoy today, as the rest of the week consists mostly of disillusion, brokenhearted resentment, and uppercuts.
We’ll see the entire span of the Iceman and Mystique relationship using pieces of X-Men #189-203, written by Mike Carey and drawn by Chris Bachalo & Humberto Ramos. Before you question Iceman’s judgement (and you will), Mystique currently has full X-Men membership. Redemption can be romantic.
Definitely a more attractive way to save someone’s life than CPR. Mystique grew up in the Victorian age, but she can still seduce men a fourth of her age. Thus the two bond the basic superhero way: combat banter.
The suspense/their growing love includes all sorts of wildly sappy moments. It’s as if you’re getting slammed over the head with a bat full of basic cable teen dramas.
Crazy dramatization. I’ve read this page three or four times and I still have no idea what point she’s making — I think she’s trying to justify child abuse. Either way, after the emotional vulnerability, their relationship can finally proceed to the inevitable climax. And one more insanely soap operatic monologue.
Do you feel uncomfortable? Me too. Oh, and y’know how Mystique uses deception as her go-to strategy? It also applies to her atonement.
Honestly, I can’t root for the idea of Mystique shoving neural inhibitors up her privates to defeat Iceman a few issues later. It’s gross and unnerving and says far more about Mystique than any previous villainous plot has. But just like She-Hulk sleeping with Juggernaut, so too must the wheel of bad superhero hookups never stop spinning.
We end today with the couple’s final scene in the arc a few issues later. It’s just as emasculating and somewhat touching as you expect it.
Tony Stark should have released a PSA years ago about the dangers of shacking up with supervillains. Iceman could have been saved this whole ordeal. On Wednesday, he gets closure.
If you ever wonder if superheroes without superpowers can still be called “super,” I assure you they can. Those without any enhancements (Punisher, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Winter Soldier, etc.) make up for being normal humans with being unstoppable combat machines capable of not just dominating the finest UFC fighter, but all the UFC fighters. At once. Realistic? I don’t care. If we want to believe a dude with a bow can stand shoulder to shoulder with actual gods and mutants, we understand he makes up for his non-powers in other spectacular ways. Like not missing a shot in years. And today in Dark Reign: Elektra #1-2, written by Zeb Wells and drawn by Clay Mann, we see further proof of a “normal” superhero’s capabilities — y’know, as in they’re not normal.
Okay, so right after Secret Invasion — where the shapeshifting Skrull aliens disguised themselves as popular superheroes/supervillains to invade earth secretly — Elektra Natchios gets captured by HAMMER (Norman Osborn’s SHIELD). After all, her skrull’s death started the whole shebang in the first place. But this is the real deal now, and it’s safe to say she’s not staying as a guest.
Because Elektra is the world’s greatest assassin, she escapes. We never had any doubt she would.
Elektra, who remains quite vulnerable to bullets, now has to fight her way past a dozen HAMMER agents. And she has lingering injuries from her Skrull capture. Luckily, she does have a knife, a hacking glove, and a few dozen years of ninja training.
You’re about to witness art. I mean, not just the drawings on the page, but like if the scariest Olympic gymnast spent all her time murdering people instead of on the balance beam. She may have a few broken limbs, a limp or two, and enough bruises to confuse her for a (sexy) dalmatian, but these goons never stood a chance. You can click the picture for a bigger version.
I’ve played enough Batman: Arkham games to know the power of fear. I mean, after I miss my grapple for the third time, accidentally use the batarang instead of the smoke bomb, and finally jump into a vent with only a sliver of health remaining — the enemies’ll eventually get scared and make mistakes again. Bad analogy, but you get the idea — who needs superspeed when one’s the deadliest woman alive already?
That’s right, they don’t show it, but we assume she caught up to the doomed henchman mid-free fall and used his jet pack to fly away. Then she spends the rest of the miniseries stabbing people while strangely holding on to her own code of ethics. When a series stars a supervillain (Elektra) going up against another supervillain (Norman Osborn), we’ll root for the slightly nicer evil-doer. And that’s Elektra, because you can’t be all that bad if Daredevil will make out with you.
If you’ve read the most recent issue of Superior Spider-Man #28, written by Dan Slott and drawn by Giuseppe Camuncoli — and you really should be reading that series — you noticed once again, Spider-Man’s ex-girlfriend/demonic pact maker being a total badass:
Despite her only superpower being super good looking, her years and years at Peter Parker’s side has pretty much scattered any remaining fear she could once feel. How many times has she been thrown off buildings? Chased by supervillains? Been kidnapped and held hostage? Nothing can scare this woman anymore.
Today, we’ll take a look at the most recent time she’s been totally awesome in Amazing Spider-Man #670-672, written by Slott and drawn by Humberto Ramos. Remember the Marvel event Spider Island where everyone in the city gains Spider-Man’s powers? Then they turn into giant spider monsters? We jump halfway into the event, where only one solitary New Yorker remains unaffected by all these spider enhancements.
And her current outfit still covers far more skin than most female superheroes’ costumes. Look, I know so many comic book readers rose up in anger after Mephisto dissolved Peter and Mary Jane’s marriage. But c’mon, we’re all intelligent people, right? The status quo always returns, just like superheroes when they die. It may take another five years, a decade, maybe even longer, but the two are destined to get back together. We all know they’ll end up married again, so can’t we just enjoy a single Spider-Man for a while? Seriously, after my friends and family, there’s nothing I love more than superheroes, and we must trust that the writers know what they’re doing — negativity only drains creativity and passion. From everyone. Stop the angry YouTube rants.
Oh, and Mary Jane punches spider monsters:
Darn tootin’ she is. And the reason she spawned those powers so late in the arc? Spoiler alert: it’s a gross reason.
So like most Spider-Man stories, our hero can’t win the day on muscles alone. He has to use all that scientific genius he possesses when he’s not chucking around trucks. But you know a delicate procedure like reversing and halting the mass extinction of a city can’t be disturbed and distracted by an army of man-spiders. Spider-Man needs a bodyguard.
Gorgeous last panel. Mary Jane singlehandedly holds off the oncoming horde as Spider-Man saves the city/brags about it. Even though Superior Spider-Man ends in five issues, hopefully that’ll still be plenty of pages to have Mary Jane take on some more goblin baddies. Plus, now we can see Doctor Octopus re-learn the lesson he’s realized so many times before: there’s always someone smarter than him. And just like Breaking Bad, no matter how awful a person Otto Octavius reveals himself to be in the next few issues, I really want him to win.
Noh-Varr, beloved sex symbol of the Young Avengers and all around super cool dude, hasn’t always been a superhero. Y’see, he’s an alien Kree soldier destined to conquer the planet for the Kree Empire’s new capital. By himself. Unfortunately, one alien/insect hybrid against the entire pantheon of superheroes didn’t work out spectacularly well for him. As in, he lost.
While prison gave him lots of time to stew about his current predicament — his own conquering impotence — Earth’s premier secret society of borderline-sociopathic superheroes, the Illuminati, decided to use this weapon in another way. And despite all their manipulating, backstabbing, lying, and downright despicable actions they accomplished during their tenure, this ranks as one of the best decisions they ever made. Witness it for itself in New Avengers: Illuminati #4, written by Brian Michael Bendis & Brian Reed and drawn by Jim Cheung. Then we’ll finish with four pages from Secret Invasion #6-7, written by Bendis and drawn by Leinil Francis Yu.
Professor X, despite being the kindly Martin Luther King Jr. of mutantkind, has a history of subtly changing the minds of those he wants to join his side. Or to forget important information. Or if he accidentally projects a dirty thought. Look, Charles Xavier’s morality lies on the side of heroism with a fair amount of “ends justify the means” sprinkled in. But at least the good professor justifies his Noh-Varr inaction:
Remember Iron Man’s alcoholism days? Odds are that he’s already worn a dress and called himself Sally. And despite all the moral grey lines, the superheroes decide on the most reasonable course of progression as they just go about their normal problem-solving method: beating the crap out of whoever they disagree with. At least Namor’s unashamed. And naked. Always naked.
Each Illuminati member gets a turn to make their case. You saw how awesome Noh-Varr is last article — the Illuminati really doesn’t want him ripping Captain America into fun-size pieces.
Instead of a simple mind warp of, “Hey, isn’t Earth swell?” the Illuminati’ll have to convince him the ol’ fashioned way: logic. It’s a moral step in the right direction for the sketchiest group of superheroes of the past decade. Next, Mr. Fantastic gets his turn. Y’know, after a few more Namor punches.
Mr. Fantastic, the least romantic man on the planet — whether that be politics or ladies — brings up a good point. Sure, Noh-Varr could spend the rest of his days kicking and screaming his way to whatever victory he hopes he’ll achieve, or he could do something actual useful, beneficial, and not a complete waste of his time. Because we know he sure as hell can’t beat Earth’s entire roster of superheroes. We have all the best ones on this planet.
And he does. And he finds Captain Marvel. And he becomes the hero we darn tootin’ know he should be. When the Skrulls, sworn enemy of the superior intellect Kree, invades Earth with their fancy shapeshifting powers, Noh-Varr figures the Illuminati have a good point. He could either stay rotting in prison or kick the butt of those green monsters currently ravishing his current planet. Also, Captain Marvel has a secret:
Yup, Captain Marvel fought his own people as a secret Skrull. His bravery won’t be forgotten, but we all know it’s time for a real Kree to continue his struggle. And parade around shirtless for most of the Young Avengers series.
Welcome the new Noh-Varr: Earth’s newest defender.
If you haven’t read Kieron Gillen’s Young Avengers series, you’re only punishing itself. That man writes at a level beyond human capability — along with a fantastic taste in music — and artists Jamie McKelvie & Mike Norton create stuff with panels I’ve never seen in a comic before. But in Young Avengers #1 and #7, a battle gets mentioned I’ve never heard before:
So I decided to search for that fight, half wanting to piece together past events and half wanting to see Noh-Varr wipe the floor with everyone. Luckily, I found it in Civil War: Young Avengers & Runaways #2-4, written by Zeb Wells and drawn by Stefano Caselli.
If you think the normal Marvel universe can be confusing, wait till you get into the intergalactic stuff. The three big alien empires — Skrull, Shi’ar, and Kree take up most of the comic book ink. Noh-Varr’s a hybrid Kree/insect. Seriously, just more with Spider-Man-like enhanced abilities rather than wings and antennas. Nowadays, he hangs out on Earth to protect it from non-Kree alien forces, but before all that, he got brainwashed:
It’s going to be a bloodbath. Honestly, I know only slightly more about Marvel alien races than the Runaways, who are Los Angeles-based kids of supervillains who team up to thwart the plans of their parents. They have superpowers and whatnot as well.
While I’d explain the teams one-by-one, Noh-Varr’s currently fighting like twelve at once and it’s better for you to see it all for yourself as it happens as opposed to a huge paragraph with thirty commas. Just know that Noh-Varr’s stronger, faster, and far more skilled than his teenage opponents.
The Vision, like the X-Man Kitty Pryde, can phase through people/objects and unphase at will, essentially punching right through enemies if vicious and bloodthirsty enough. Noh-Varr’s so badass that he just breaks off Vision’s arm with the hand still deep inside him. That’s Wolverine-esque craziness right there.
Y’see, the problem with superspeed lies in the recovery time. With half the team knocked out or disabled within the first moments of the fight, it’d be nice for the rest of the Young Avengers/Runaways to take a breather, refuel, get a massage before round two begins. But y’see, that’s the problem with superspeed.
No one’s scarier with a robot hand protruding out of his chest than Noh-Varr. The good guys (and our antagonist’s a good guy currently with a fuzzy brain), only survive due to our baddie’s recall. Supervillains have way cooler methods of extraction than the heroes.
On a side note, Noh-Varr’s ex-girlfriend list builds steadily every new series. Women can’t get enough of this Kree/bug hybrid, even with those short shorts he wears. The guy looks like he wrestles for his local high school. But as the miniseries comes to a close and our two teams ambush the enemy ship, Noh-Varr gets his round two. And he’s just as awesome.
People sometimes ask, aren’t superheroes for children? Jason, with your male pattern baldness and salaried job, aren’t you too old to be reading comic books? And I say, yes, maybe I am, but I never want to live in a world where I don’t enjoy an alien chucking a dinosaur across a spaceship. I’m a dreamer.
With that, Noh-Varr lies in defeat, for he still had not removed the android’s body parts from his own body parts. I imagine it’s a fear thing, like when Wolverine emerges on the page with his face half burned and only his pants still clinging on.
Oh, and read Gillen’s Young Avengers. Noh-Varr’s a delight.