‘Uncanny X-Men: Winter's End #1’: Old Man Iceman
Writer Sina Grace and artist Nate Stockman talk about Bobby Drake's battle with his future self!
The omega-level mutant Bobby Drake, aka Iceman, leads a busy life, teaching at the Xavier Institute, dating, and fulfilling his duties on the X-Men. Now, enter a future, more morose Bobby that’s discouraging his Super Hero lifestyle. We spoke to Iceman writer Sina Grace and artist Nate Stockman to find out who this ill-tempered old man Iceman is and what this one-shot has got in store for our world-class hero in UNCANNY X-MEN: WINTER’S END #1, on sale Wednesday, February 27!
Marvel.com: What do you want readers to know about UNCANNY X-MEN: WINTER’S END #1? What is future Bobby’s alias, and is he from an X-Men arc that readers have already seen?
Sina Grace: The WINTER’S END special is an exciting story that follows Bobby Drake trying to celebrate his birthday, but in true Marvel fashion, nothing goes right. An Iceman from the future has come to the present time to prevent a catastrophe he feels responsible for. Oh, and Bobby’s birthday has so many surprise guests. Well, really just one that’s a surprise.
Nate Stockman: Future Bobby, alias Ice Master, is the same version we saw as part of the X-Men team from the future in the X-MEN: BATTLE OF THE ATOM storyline a few years ago. (It's hard to keep track of X-Men continuity with both younger and older versions of characters floating around at the drop of a hat). We kept his look the same as before. It’s a neat, distinct look for future Bobby that tells you instantly that this version has been through some stuff!
Sina Grace: Ice Master’s like a very serious Gandalf version of Bobby, so I was excited to explore how that guy got so hardened, and what would be so bad that he’d do the thing he loathes most to stop it: going into the past.
Marvel.com: Sina and Nate, what was it like creating a future version of Bobby? What challenges did it present in creating his personality, expressions, and powers?
Sina Grace: My biggest challenge was trying to understand the world he came from, and figure out just how bleak it was. When [Brian Michael] Bendis wrote it, the Ice Master’s future seemed on the verge of complete obliteration for Mutantkind, and then when it’s shown in the STRANGE issues Nathan drew, it’s more of a casually dystopian future [chuckles to self]. The fun part about writing his powers is I actually felt super uninhibited by the possibilities, and we all had a lot of fun showing two Omega-Level mutants spar.
Marvel.com: Sina, how was it different from when Bobby met a time-displaced teenage version of himself in ICEMAN #1?
Sina Grace: There’s a lack of naiveté to play with when we’re talking about our Bobby meeting a Bobby from the future. Time-displaced Bobby was so bright and unencumbered, and he was a great reminder to our hero about what is possible of himself. Ice Master, however, is completely nihilistic and beaten down by the system. That’s how I got everyone interested in telling this story. I said: “Look, Bobby’s story started being haunted by the past. The next step for a guy trying to take control of his life would be to face a fear of the future.”
Marvel.com: Bobby is known as a jokester, with a sometimes “dad joke” sense of humor. Sina, how do you practice writing comedy for Bobby?
Sina Grace: Look, I know you want me to start this answer with a joke… but 2019 Sina is all about mentioning that it’s 2019 and doing something different. I try to make sure that whatever the gag is, it gets communicated as easily as possible. Nate and I have the power to use words and images to sell a joke, so I’m always trying to cut the words, use a visual, etc. And yes, sometimes I test the jokes on friends. Even 2019 Sina does that.
Marvel.com: Nate, which of Bobby’s powers are your most favorite to depict and what are you looking forward to sharing with readers in WINTER’S END?
Nate Stockman: I really love the Ice Golems Bobby can create. It’s such a cool power to be able to create your own army of giant snowmen! I think those are my favorites to draw. Big lumbering ice-hulks. Pure comic book fun! I love drawing the ice sled too and just big old ice blasts. He learned a few new tricks in the latest series, which he puts into practice in this special!
Marvel.com: Shade, Marvel’s first mutant drag queen Super Hero, debuted in ICEMAN #4 this past December. Tell us a little bit more about Shade and the fan art coming up in the WINTER’S END letters column?
Sina Grace: One of my goals in this Iceman arc was to apply the “mutant metaphor” to other aspects of my identity beyond coming out and dating boys. Being gay, to me, is about celebrating and protecting what’s beautiful/unique about us. Drag is this magnificent way to explore gender, identity and personality while circling back to being a celebration of sorts. So, I thought of having the emcee for Mutant Pride be a drag queen, and I had a character named “Shade” with the same powerset in an unused Generation X pitch... The rest honestly blew up on its own.
I had like 30+ fan drawings on my phone before this book was done, so I asked my editor if we could show them off in the letters column. We were able to tweak the script in time so that Shade appears in a few scenes. (I’m so glad Nate waited to draw Bobby’s birthday pages last haha.) It’s insane. Maybe one day I’ll get to share her origin story with the world!
Nathan Stockman: It’s been crazy seeing so much Shade fan art and even some cosplays already! When Sina sent me his design for her, I knew it was perfect, right down to the Lockheed earring!
Marvel.com: You’ve both been working on Iceman’s solo series since last year and now on this one-shot. What traditions have you formed in working together and how has your process evolved over time?
Sina Grace: Maybe I don’t say this to Nate, but there’s SO much trust with us now. I loved working with him from the get-go. He’s a great storyteller, and he’s always thinking about fresh readers, so he always brings up a tweaks to have things flow better. I just trust the guy so much! He knows what I’m precious about, and lets me backseat drive with the fashion.
Nathan Stockman: I think we both hit it off early on while we were preparing for the series, we joked around with costume designs and what the plans were for the series and what we’d have fun drawing and writing. I think that’s the biggest tradition we carried through -- to have fun while we were making it. It never felt like a chore working with Sina or anyone else on the book. We always had a good time and finished as pals. A pretty great collaboration if you ask me!
Marvel.com: You’re nominated for a GLAAD award for Outstanding Comic Book alongside the Iceman creative team (Robert Gill, Ed Tadeo, Rachelle Rosenberg, Federico Blee, and Joe Sabino). Congrats! What’s it like to be nominated and what do you think Bobby and Shade would say about it?
Sina Grace: I’m super happy to be nominated. It’s always really helpful and nice to have a big organization recognize what you do. Also, the competition is pretty amazing, so if any of them win I’ll still be beaming about our loss. Bobby would probably throw his voice and have an ice golem say a general platitude. Shade would hit you with her rider agreement to appear at the ceremony.
Nathan Stockman: Bobby would probably say he was really GLAAD to get nominated and legitimately think he’s hilarious.
Marvel.com: Tell us a little bit more about the cover by Javier Garrón, and what’s your favorite part about working with him?
Sina Grace: Getting Javier Garrón to do the cover was the genius idea of editor Darren Shan. The story within is the most intense X-Men tale I’ve written, so we needed an artist to send that message on the cover. Javier didn’t disappoint.
Nathan Stockman: When I saw the cover I knew I had big shoes to fill! I love Javier’s work so I can only hope the insides live up in some way to the beautiful cover!
Marvel.com: Who else is working on the book and how has their contribution helped bring this book to life?
Sina Grace: I’m thrilled that we have our entire crew from the latest ICEMAN run, which will make it a wonderful-looking stand-alone comic book, and read as a wonderful final chapter in the third ICEMAN trade paperback. If I get to tell more Iceman stories, I would only hope it’s with this batch of dudes. Nate, Federico, Joe, Danny and Darren are the best!
Nathan Stockman: We’re taking the whole Iceman creative team with us for this special. Sina and myself, editor Darren Shan, assistant editor Danny Khazem, colorist Federico Blee and letterer Joe Sabino! We all enjoyed working with each other so much we had to do it one more time!
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