Yesterday a small kerfuffle began in the world of comic book news when pages leaked online from today”s issue of ALL-NEW X-MEN #40. Specifically that founding X-Men member Bobby Drake, better known as Iceman, is gay.
On it”s face, this is great news! Comic books have been striving to become more inclusive and there”s nothing wrong with having time displaced teenage Bobby be more comfortable coming out in 2015 than back in the 1980s or the 1960s. Except that”s not what happened. At all.
Jean Grey, telepathic busybody, forced Iceman into confessing his attraction to other men in a problematic sequence that illustrated exactly how a friend and ally should NEVER behave.
No Jean. The proper words in that last panel are, “Bobby…never mind.” Or perhaps, “Bobby, if you ever want to talk to me about ANYTHING, I”m here and I won”t judge.”
But nope. Jean Grey pushes the issue. Now, none of us have telepathic powers (or DO we?) but there is nothing okay about cornering a friend and forcing them to admit their sexuality. This isn”t a character coming out, this is a character being dragged out kicking and screaming.
There is also the thorny issue of the appearance of bi-erasure. More panels go on to drive home that nope, there is no way Bobby Drake could be bisexual. Despite his many relationships with women, despite his adult self in this universe appearing to be straight, the writing hammers home that bisexuality is not an option.
What does that leave? That adult Bobby has been living a life of secrecy for years. Or that adult Bobby somehow managed to force himself to be straight. The former could be a easy way to put his failed relationships with women into new context. The latter would be devastatingly irresponsible in a world where people still legitimately think humans can be ‘cured” of homosexuality.
Either way, teenage Iceman is gay, and now everyone knows it. Whether he wanted them to or not.