Bobby Drake discovered his mutant power to create ice while in his early teens, yet kept his condition hidden from everyone but his parents. Initially, Bobby was unable to stop feeling cold and shivering, but soon managed to keep it under control. When a bully named Rocky Beasely and his friends attacked Bobby and his then-girlfriend, Judy Harmon, the youngster panicked. To save Harmon, Bobby temporarily encased Rocky in ice, thus revealing his abilities for all to see. Believing the boy to be a menace, the townspeople organized a lynch mob. They broke into Bobby's home and overpowered him, but the local sheriff took the teenager into custody for his own protection. Meanwhile, the situation had come to the attention of Professor Charles Xavier, the telepathic mentor of the team of teenage mutant super heroes the X-Men.
Professor X dispatched his first X-Man, Cyclops, to contact Bobby. Cyclops stole into the jailhouse as planned, but the two began fighting when Bobby refused to accompany him. Caught by the lynch mob, Cyclops and Bobby were about to be hanged when they broke free. Professor X used his mental powers to halt the townspeople in their tracks and erase their memories of Bobby's powers. A grateful Bobby then accepted Xavier's invitation to enroll at his School for Gifted Youngsters and took the codename Iceman. Though initially granting him a snow-like form, Bobby soon learned to increase his degree of cold control resulting in an ice-like, almost transparent form.
Hated and feared by humanity, the X-Men honed their amazing abilities while standing in defense of a world pushed to the brink of genetic war by a handful of mutant terrorists. Iceman, the team's youngest founding member, became known as the comedian of the group. Regardless, he pulled his weight and worked well with rest of the team.
Following a short break-up after believing their mentor was dead, the X-Men reformed with two new members - the magnetism-manipulating Polaris and the plasma-charged Havok. Bobby had a brief romantic relationship with Polaris until she realized that her heart belonged to Havok. Bobby had trouble accepting her decision, which led to increased tension between himself and Havok. Eventually, Bobby quit the team for a short time to sort out his feelings.
Later, when the sentient island-being known as Krakoa took Bobby and his team mates captive, Professor X assembled a second team of X-Men to rescue them. Soon after, most of the founding members left the team and Bobby began attending college on a scholarship. Eventually, he helped his former team mate Angel form the Champions of Los Angeles. When the Champions disbanded, Bobby went missing, and Angel teamed up with the costumed adventurer Spider-Man to find him. Bobby had been hypnotized by the Champions' enemy Rampage into donning his battle suit, and Angel and Spider-Man were forced to battle him. After Rampage was defeated, Bobby quit his life as a costumed adventurer and returned to college full time to study accounting.
Later, Bobby was contacted by Professor X to assist in rescuing friends and family of the X-Men from the assassin known as Arcade. Along with other former X-Men Banshee, Polaris, and Havok, the ad-hoc team managed to free the hostages and Bobby finally came to accept Polaris' love for Havok.
During a summer break from college Bobby went to visit his former X-Men teammate Beast and soon became involved with the loose-knit collection of costumed heroes known as the Defenders. Along with Beast and Angel, Bobby helped reorganize the team into a more formal and cohesive unit. The Defenders eventually disbanded when several of their members appeared to perish during a climactic battle.
Soon after, Bobby joined the other founding X-Men to form X-Factor, an organization that intended to seek out and aid other mutants under the pretense of hunting down those perceived menaces to society. During his time with the team, the Asgardian trickster god Loki captured Bobby, hoping to use him to gain control over the Frost Giants. Loki enhanced Bobby's powers to such an extent that he was forced to wear a power-dampening belt that was originally created by the subversive organization known as The Right to cancel out his powers. Once able only to sheathe his own body in a protective coating of ice, Bobby found he could encase the entirety of the Empire State Building. With time, Bobby gained sufficient control over his augmented powers that he was able to stop using the inhibitor belt. Believing he had achieved his full potential, Bobby never attempted to push himself beyond his perceived limits.
When Professor Xavier returned to Earth following an extended absence in outer space, Bobby and the other members of X-Factor rejoined the X-Men. Shortly thereafter, Bobby confronted former Cosmonaut Mikhail Rasputin, the reality-warping mutant brother of Bobby’s steel-skinned teammate Colossus. Rasputin forced Bobby into a form composed entirely of ice, affording the young mutant a glimpse into his true nature. Subsequently, Bobby began experimenting with his abilities - using ice to add mass to his slight frame, or lift himself high into the air without the benefit of his usual slides.
Months later, the psychically incapacitated mutant telepath Emma Frost took mental possession of Bobby's body. Frost was able to activate the full extent of his powers, using his powers in ways Bobby had not thought possible until she was coaxed back into her own body by Professor X. With Frost's prodding, Iceman later learned to completely transform his body into its full ice state on his own. Frost later also showed Bobby that he could safely revert back to his human form after his ice form's chest had been shattered in battle.
Bobby later took a leave of absence from the X-Men to spend more time with his father who had been injured by the grass roots anti-mutant movement the Friends of Humanity. He returned briefly to the X-Men to rescue mutant doctor Cecilia Reyes during the government-sponsored anti-mutant Operation: Zero Tolerance, after which he returned to his father's side.
Two subsequent events served to shed further light on Iceman's untapped potential. To secure a new host body, the would-be conqueror Apocalypse sought to siphon the awesome energies of "The Twelve" - mutants of incredible power, destined to alter the course of human history. Among their number was Iceman, who survived the ordeal thanks only to the apparent sacrifice of Cyclops.
A second defining event occurred when the sentient spaceship Prosh escaped the confines of a Celestial prison, returned to Earth and dispatched a group of disparate beings on a journey through time to uncover the keys to preserving human evolution. Their mission: Save the human race from a threat that might not manifest itself for millions of years. When Prosh reassembled the members of his team in the present, they fought and defeated the enigmatic alien entity known as the Stranger, who sought to control the natural evolution of humans and mutants.
These experiences forced Iceman into the realization that he no longer need fear the evolution of his abilities, and he returned to the X-Men to explore his mutant powers to the fullest. After suffering a chest injury, Bobby was unable to prevent his body from transforming into solid ice due to the manifestation of a secondary mutation.
After the House of M incident Iceman was believed to be among the mutants who lost their powers, but this apparent loss of powers was quickly revealed to be a subconscious reaction to the trauma of that reality warp. Since recovering his powers, his ice form has taken on a much more jagged appearance.
Recently, Iceman has been using his powers in innovative ways, including the ability to exist as a sentient gas. He discovered this ability while fighting the Children of the Vault when they attacked the Mansion. After the fight with the Children, he joined Rogue's team of X-Men.