Mahmud Asrar – Uncanny X-Men #600

Mahmud Asrar, who drew some All New X-Men issues, is back on the last issue of Brian Michael Bendis’ arc of Uncanny X-Men with several other artists, among whom Stuart ImmonenChris Bachalo and Kris Anka – all artists who were working on All New X-Men or Uncanny X-Men since the beginning of Brian Michael Bendis‘ arc in 2013.

Continuing where he left off on All New X-Men #40, Mahmud Asrar is drawing the coming out of the young Iceman to his adult-self, with Jean Grey as a moral support. The first reaction of the grown-up Bobby Drake is obviously anger and denial. After all these years trying to act like a straight man, it’s not easy fo him to came out, even to a younger version of himself. I’m very found of Mahmud Asrar‘s drawings : sober, without any frills and unnecessary details. This sobriety strengthens Brian Michael Bendis‘ message and raises these layouts to the rank of masterpieces. This layout is divided into two parts : the left part focuses on the young Bobby Drake, while the right part represents the adult Bobby’s reactions. Panel by panel, the framing gets closer to the character’s face, in order to enhance their emotions, the feelings of both the young and the grown-up Bobby Drake.

Mahmud Asrar - Uncanny X-Men #600 p.16
Mahmud Asrar – Uncanny X-Men #600 p.16 © Mahmud Asrar / Marvel

Soon, the adult Bobby realises it’s useless to hide his true-self, to the world and to himself. If his younger counterpart can accept and be pride of his sexual orientation, why can’t he be ? After all these years fighting against the discrimination and the hatred for being a mutant, it’s time to came out and be pride of being even more different from most of the world. It’s time for Bobby to be both mutants and gay. After all, he’s not the only one in that case : Anole, Graymaling and Northstar are mutants and gay – the last one even got married (see Astonishing X-Men #51). This double-page spread is my favorite of the comic-book : Iceman is finally done hiding, thanks to his younger-self. He showed him that the world has changed since he was himself a teenager, and if some people still doesn’t support gay people, they are no longer a majority. The world is a more tolerant, a more broad-minded place to live. Like the previous layouts, this one shows almost exclusively the characters in close-ups. The hand on the last panel of the first tier is a strong symbol of Bobby’s confusion. He can’t even produce ice, only water. He’s still terrified of being out of the closet, but he’s even more impressed about the courage his younger-self just showed him.

Mahmud Asrar - Uncanny X-Men #600 p.18-19
Mahmud Asrar – Uncanny X-Men #600 p.18-19 © Mahmud Asrar / Marvel

Thanks to Jean Grey – despite the fact that he said he hated her in the first place – and his younger self, Bobby Drake accepted his sexuality. He’s even enough comfortable to answer to young Bobby’s joke about Angel : is he hot or not ? That’s how Mahmud Asrar ends his run on Uncanny X-Men, with a touch of humour which tone down the drama of Iceman’s coming out.

Mahmud Asrar - Uncanny X-Men #600 p.20
Mahmud Asrar – Uncanny X-Men #600 p.20 © Mahmud Asrar / Marvel

Despite all that have been said about Iceman’s coming out, I think it’s a good idea, and Mahmud Asrar and Brian Michael Bendis managed to do it well. The dialogs are well thought out, and the drawings are extraordinarily moving. Iceman’s coming out was a surprise, I can’t denied it, but it was well done. This is not because he dated woman for some time – and even tried to freeze the world to save his lovers – that he can’t one day came out as gay. On the other side, I disagree with the people who tries to find clues about Bobby’s sexuality in the older issues of the X-Men titles. I think he wasn’t romantically interested in Jean Grey when she arrived in the first Uncanny X-Men issue in 1963 because he was too young, not just because he was gay.

Now that such a bomb has been dropped, I hope this will be well-used, and not store in some closet : now that Iceman is out of the closet, he better stay outside of it. We will see it in Extraordinary X-Men (Jeff Lemire and Humberto Ramos) for the grown-up Iceman, and with All New X-Men (Dennis Hopeless and Mark Bagley) for the young Iceman.

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