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Friday, July 23, 2021

Strange Tales with Bobby Drake

Strange Tales #120 shed light on the social life of Bobby Drake during his early days as Iceman. Published the same month as X-Men #5 (May 1964), Iceman was disappointed that another classmate had plans with Jean Grey, the only female student then enrolled at Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. Although Bobby hadn't taken an interest in Jean in X-Men #1, he seemed to have a change of heart.

Iceman: Gosh, Professsor X … whenever I get up the never to ask Jean for a date, the Angel or Cyclops, or somebody beats me to it!
Proessor X: Well, the day is still young, Bobby! Why don't you go to New York and see the sights?

Hoping to meet someone special, Bobby decided to take a day cruise around New York. While aboard the boat, Bobby struck up a conversation with a female passenger named Doris—only to learn that she was dating Johnny Storm, publicly known as the Human Torch of the Fantastic Four. As fate would have it, modern-day pirates also came aboard. Preserving his secret identity, Bobby assumed his veneer as Iceman and fought alongside Human Torch to defeat the pirates.

Given recent storylines depicting Iceman as gay, I think it is possible to read Strange Tales #120 through a queer lens, interpreting Iceman's conversation with Professor X and attempt to meet a woman as ways of hiding his homosexuality. Either way, Bobby's luck with women would improve upon meeting Zelda at Coffee A Go-Go in X-Men #7.

Strange Tales. Vol. 1. No. 120. May 1964. "The Torch Meets the Iceman!" Deftly written by: Stan Lee. Dazzlingly drawn by: Jack Kirby. Dramatically inked by: Dick Aywers. Distinctively lettered by: S. Rosen.

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