web stats

CSBG Archive

I Love Ya But You’re Strange – The Strange Sexual Journey of Ice Maiden

Every week, I will spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!

So a couple of weeks ago, I told you all about Sigrid Nansen, the first Ice Maiden, who joined the Justice League after her replacement, Ice, was killed. At the time, I told you that I’d spotlight the bizarre series of stories Sigrid starred in once she was on the team. This is that feature!

Right off the bat, there was some weird stuff going on with Sigrid and Beatriz Da Costa, the heroine known as Fire (Ice’s best friend). In Justice League America #97 (by Gerard Jones and artists Randy Green and Andrew Pepoy), Sigrid meets Fire…

and the issue ends in an odd cliffhanger…

Fire is weird.

In the following issue, Fire reacts rationally to concerns from the other Leaguers (the art is by the then-regular artists on the title, Chuck Wojtkiewicz and inker Bob Dvorak).

By the end of the issue, Bea had calmed down and Sigrid was a member of the team.

Okay, so this began this odd series of little vignettes over the next few issues where it seemed like Bea and Sigrid had some sort of bizarre flirtation thing going on (bizarre because it was not REALLY like flirtation, but it was like Bea was kind of obsessed with her and Sigrid was digging the interest). This led to a rather ridiculous sequence in Justice League America #103 (by Wotjkiewicz and inker Drew Geraci)…

And then the reveal…

“Oh, you thought she was a lesbian? How could you think that? We never said that!” Lordy, I remember the reactions to these issues on the early days of usenet. Many optical injuries from the eye rolling over how this was handled.

The whole weird situation continues in the next issue (by artists Scott Kolins and Ken Branch)…

Again, they clearly are milking the sexual undertones for all they’re worth before giving the twist…

Yes, this was all a strange plot by Ice Maiden to get Fire over Ice’s death. I love Ice Maiden’s “Yeah, I wanted it to go down this way. Yep, this was all how I planned it. I did not want to make out. No sirree.”

Jones had adopted a very soap operatic feel to the Justice League during this run on the book, with romantic entanglements being a major focus of the series. In a subplot with Obsidian, he helped bring Obsidian basically to the point of coming out as gay (“Why must there be labels?” was the closest he came).

I presume that there was editorial pressure, because otherwise, these stories read like a whole lot of teasing about how something MIGHT happen but then nothing ever did. It was like Jones wanted to break some ground in exploring homosexuality among superheroes, but was not sure how far he was allowed to go. The negative way of looking at it was that he was going as far as he could without actually going “over the line” so that he could draw in attention with the “Maybe they will!” aspect of it before pulling back. I tend to believe that Jones honestly just wanted to explore the issues and was constrained by the mid-90s sensibilities of mainstream comics.

Finally, though, in Justice League America #110, a “shocker”…

This led to a bit in the next issue where she basically explains what bi-sexuality is to a moronic Nuklon…

Oh, Nuklon. It is like the John Mulaney bit about how Ice T’s role on Law and Order: SVU is to basically be ignorant about EVERYthing so that someone can explain it to him (and thus, the viewers – in this case, the readers). “Yo, you’re telling me this guy gets off on little girls with pigtails?” Here, Nuklon is basically, “Yo, so you’re telling me you like guys AND girls?”

Sigrid’s journey ended with her dating Olivia Reynolds, Hal Jordan’s old girlfriend (who Jones had brought back during his run on Green Lantern) but then she more or less entered limbo until 2010 or so when she was basically skinned by some psychotic bad guy.

You should have stayed away, Sigrid!

Thanks to WTF? DC for the scans. It saved me a whole lot of time trying to figure out which issue had which scene in it. I like their take on Sigrid’s behavior with Fire as “morally-questionable, explicitly horny armchair-psychotherapist routine.” Hilarious!

42 Comments

I think you meant to write “Bea is AWESOME.” I guess that was a typo.

… But yeah, what a weird story. I had dropped Justice League by then, so I missed it all, but … yeah.

“…[T] hen she more or less entered limbo until 2010 or so when she was basically skinned by some psychotic bad guy.”

Stay classy, DC!

OK, I’m buying the strange — but what was “ultimately endearing” about his? That it wasn’t drawn as badly as that Black Widow flips a car story?

Ice T not Ice Cube FYI

Sigh. Yeah, I was the guy reading JLA during those years. I remember this story line.

Fondly?

No.

John Mulaney reference! I love you Cronin.

Wow. That is some messed up, “Single White Female” shit, except nobody’s boyfriend received a BJ and got killed off. (That likely would have happened if the comic wasn’t cancelled to make way for JLA)

OK, I’m buying the strange — but what was “ultimately endearing” about his? That it wasn’t drawn as badly as that Black Widow flips a car story?

That I think Gerry Jones’ motivations were in the right place. Either editorial held him back or he messed up on his own, but the initial motives I believe were pure and good ones (exploring homosexuality in comics). For instance, it was his work with Obsidian that opened the door for the work other writers have done with the character (introducing his boyfriend, etc.).

This is terrible comics 101. It’s so very bad on so many levels.

I don’t know, I always thought Chuck Wojtkiewicz was kind of an underrated artist.

This is an example of ho wwhen people say Superheroes are a soap opera for dudes, this example is more insulting to Soap Operas…

Still better than Dan Jurgens previous run and definitely better than Geoff Johns current book. I think editorial was pretty bad during that time, though. It wasn’t a particularly catchy book to look at (awfully coloured and too many below the level artists at that time). I quite enjoyed, even though it wasn’t anywhere closer to Jones amazing Green Lantern run.

That was a very weird era of JLA. I believe it came about around Zero Hour. Even more obscure characters than the earlier era, more women, and odd things based around sexuality. That series also included a funny alien character whose refusal to reveal his or her gender freaked out Flash. Who was that guy?

@ Ethan

That’d be “the Yazz”

http://www.armagideon-time.com/?p=4478

I stopped reading the Justice League books after the interminable “Breakdowns” storyline. I’m glad I did, looks like I missed a whole bunch of awful.

This was a VERY weird era for the Justice League, but God Help Me, I actually rather liked it. Yes, they went out and fought villains and such, and Hawkman and Guy Gardner showed up and, and I have to admit that I didn’t like the Yaz much, but Wally was funny, and EVERYONE was flirting with each other like mad through the entire run.

It was a hoot.

But yes, Sigrid was a very disturbed young lady. And Bea was having a very rough time. Heck, she and Guy started dating !

DC needs more hot lesbians.

This reminds me how much I disliked Jones’ run on the League. I’m less convinced of his motivations than you Brian–it felt like he was always giving the appearance of Deep Thoughts About Stuff but without much substance. If that was the best his editors would let him do, he should probably have given up because that Bea/Sigrid stuff feels really off.
And the discussion of bisexuality feels like Gerard Jones Explains This Stuff To His Readers–bisexuality wouldn’t exclude her dating Nuklon so it’s basically “I’m not interested.” Which she could have said up front.
I liked Jones’ GL, but not his League.

Didn’t Sigrid also die at the hands of the Mist (Nash) in the late 90s?

Yeah, Gerard Jones’ run was pretty weird. It seemed very disjointed, plotlines led nowhere, the characters went off on missions to space for several issues, there were dozens of hang-arounds (not actual Justice League members, just people who hung out in their asteroid base like Power Girl) and yes, it did seem very soap operaistic. Fairly entertaining, nonetheless.

I don’t think Jones actually wanted to reveal Fire as being a lesbian or bi, honestly, I don’t know what his game plan was, but I don’t think he wanted to do that.

By the way, Tae, Ice Maiden wasn’t killed in that conflict, Nash just staged some diversion in her home country to keep her occupied while Nash took her place and killed her teammates.

In that last conversation with Sigrid, when Bea says that she “hooked up” with Tora, does she mean as friends or partners or what? Because I think that phrase usually suggests something sexual. Do you think Jones was making an innuendo?

Oh man, was Gerard Jones’s Justice League run terrible. Bad plots, terrible villains, and – like here – a whole lot of soap-boxing about issues that Jones clearly did not have a fantastic handle on (if you think this is bad, check out some of his stuff with Power Girl and feminism over in JLE… ugh). It always felt kind of appropriate when, years later, DC basically started pretending that Morrison took over when Giffen and DeMatteis left and there’d been no years worth of odd, bad, and forgettable stories in between.

That said, I do kind of love that three panel gag with horrified expression Nuklon.

Yes, Jones’ handling of Power Girl annoyed me greatly.

Beach Blanket Django!

September 8, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Y’know, I think I actually saw a VERY CLOSE VERSION of that Ice Maiden and Fire scenario play out on a certain kind of movie once. It was on very late at night on a weekend on Cinemax when I was in high school.
Ended very differently, though! :)

@David–though “hooking up” today does have the sexual connotation you mention, I can remember when I was a teenager and later in college it just meant “to meet” or “to join with,” which is more how I think it is meant in the dialogue above.

The absolute worst part about this was Nuklon’s hair-do.
But like you said he was a moron.

This trippy psychosexual stuff blew me away when I was an impressionable 13/14 yr old reading it for the first time.

I still love this era, and am unashamed to admit it! However I will concede that Jones’ Green Lantern stuff (including Mosaic) was better than his Justice League stuff (that includes Europe and America).

I think Jones just liked playing with peoples’ perceptions and assumptions. A lot of his League seemed to have a meta-fictional subtext about fans’ expectations and tastes and turning them on their ear. The whole point of the Obisidian storyline for instance was that he was NOT gay, that everyone was judging him based solely on stereotypes. It’s the twist and punchline to the story. Making him homosexual undoes the power and message of the story and basically says it is ok to make assumptions about people’s sexuality based on stereotypes. Even if they insist they aren’t what you think they are, they’re just in denial. You’re right, they’re wrong.

i give props to what johnes was trying to do by having sigrid tell nuckleon labels should not matter though kind of took a long strange way to reveal she is bi not to mention her idea of helping fire get over ice was kind of a little cruel and creepy. plus if dc did not want to use ice maiden any more they could have retired her in a less nasty way .

I think Jones just liked playing with peoples’ perceptions and assumptions. A lot of his League seemed to have a meta-fictional subtext about fans’ expectations and tastes and turning them on their ear. The whole point of the Obisidian storyline for instance was that he was NOT gay, that everyone was judging him based solely on stereotypes. It’s the twist and punchline to the story. Making him homosexual undoes the power and message of the story and basically says it is ok to make assumptions about people’s sexuality based on stereotypes. Even if they insist they aren’t what you think they are, they’re just in denial. You’re right, they’re wrong.

I agree. I think that sounds like a good idea, and the later developments making Obsidian gay seemed to have really missed the point and dropped the ball by going for the obvious and unsubtle route.

This was fun in a weird way. :D

Then there was that odd issue of Martian Manhunter (I forget the exact issue, but it was in the first year before the trip to Saturn) where Chase calls Tora Bea’s girlfriend, and Bea doesn’t correct her.

Still much more entertaining and smarter than what they’ve got now.

No problem! And thanks!

Still much more entertaining and smarter than what they’ve got now.

What isn’t?

Patrick: We were using “hook up” to indicate casual sex, making out, etc. when I was in high school in the 1980s, which was before every issue shown here came out.

Nice fake-out…I really thought that Icemaiden was getting naked! I was seriously hoping that Fire was gonna say “Fuck it” and start making out with Sigrid.

Looking at these, I am going to say that the failure is mostly in the art. The story itself is sort of interesting. I mean, Icemaiden is a bi-sexual woman with a crush on Bea. She may (or may not) be using the grief of her friend to bait her into a romantic relationship. That is not a bad soap operatic plot. The dialog isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible either. Maybe a bit clumsy, but it no worse than the average episode of “The Real World” on which Jones seemed to be modeling his Justice League.

Where these pages fall apart is in the story-telling and the “acting”.

The first page is just brutal. Panel 1 with Sigrid putting herself out ok, but the transition to Panel 2 is a huge mistake. What you want is to see her reaction to Bea’s rejection. While we get that reaction in Panel 3, her body position has nothing to do with the prior two panels. Also, why is Bea both on fire and sticking her rack out in Panel 1? Why does she apparently throw her body on all fours in Panel 2? I am not even going to talk about the second page, which makes no logical sense at all.

Chuck Wojtkiewicz is better, but only in the sense that the art is prettier. Wojtkiewicz doesn’t have any better command of his “camera” than Randy Green.

Diana turns her gaze from Crimson Fox to Icemainden between panel 2 and the extreme close-up in panel 3, but her sight line doesn’t make any sense. Wojtkiewicz is trying to break the fourth wall and have the composition do the work, but it fails. The silhouettes in Panel 4 look cool, but they are out of continuity with the panels that precede and follow them, so it is hard to tell who is speaking. Compounding the problem is the simple fact that all four female characters have the same body type. That removes a key element of comic book characterization.

Losing Bob Dvorak makes matters even worse in the next section.

The use of implied nudity could have been a clever comment on the conventions of the genre, but it falls apart in the execution. The first major mis-step is by the colorist in panel 4 of the first page. The light is extremely important for the scene to work. Panel 2 probably should have included Sigrid closing the door and changing the light in the room, but that is not the end of the world. The bigger problem is that the light on Bea needs to be consistent (and believable) between Panel 2 and Panel 4. Nothing has changed in the room and yet Bea goes from light to shadow for no reason. That is big deal for scene that turns on what the audience cannot see.

The next page is worse. Jones and Wojtkiewicz stay with the implied nudity for far too long. Tora had a costume with a loose fitting top. It really should have gone on before the wig. It would have built to the reveal a bit better. It also would have made the reveal more plausible.

The scenes drawn by the early Scott Kollins play much better. They aren’t perfect, but there is some genuine suspense around the non-kiss.

Justice League America #110 was the very first Justice League comic I ever read. There I was, 10 years old, buying a comic because I expected Batman and Superman, and what did I get? Questions. So, SO many questions.

Wasn’t this right around the time that Power Girl got pregnant and gave birth to Equinox, character find of 199X (can’t remember the year)?

Oh, Al. You’re my favorite character… at least you’d become my favorite as Atom Smasher. What a goofball.

“The whole point of the Obisidian storyline for instance was that he was NOT gay”

In which case, it’s a bit weird that he never actually *says* he’s not gay, instead giving much the same speech about boxes as Sigrid does (the “why must there be labels?” Brian quotes). The impression I was left with was that Obsidian was more likely gay than not, but either way didn’t consider it any of his teammates’ (or, by analogy, the readers’) business. Which I thought was fair enough.

Compare with Conner Hawke, who states, politely and firmly, that just because he’s a sensitive guy who doesn’t know much about women doesn’t mean he isn’t straight, thanks for asking.

Yeah, I also disagree that the point was that Obsidian wasn’t gay. It was either, as you note, that he didn’t want to talk about it or that he wasn’t exactly sure either way himself at that point. But not a definitive “I am not gay” at all.

I know it’s just a helpful artistic trope, but it always bugs me when ice-oriented characters are blue. Same with fire characters being red or orange; that’s why Bea always seemed like a well-thought-out hero to me.

What’s going on in that “CHOICES” upcomer box from #103? It’s not bad or anything, in fact it’s a rather apropos bit of abstract art, but was that common during this era? Seems a lot more daring than the story itself. Hey, that would make a good paper thesis: Artists stifled by conservative editors tend to funnel their frustration into wild, expressionistic backgrounds. That would explain so much about the Silver Age, wouldn’t it?

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives