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The Abandoned An’ Forsaked – Did Iceman Really Lose His Powers During the House of M?

Every week, we will be examining comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.

Today we look at the short period of time when it looked like Iceman had lost his mutant powers due to the Scarlet Witch’s action at the end of the House of M….

As you may or may not know, the House of M saw the mentally unstable Scarlet Witch be manipulated into altering the world with her reality-altering powers to make mutants the rulers of the world. A small group of X-Men and Avengers tried to bring down the so-called “House of Magnus,” and during the melee, Wanda decides that mutants are the problem…

In the final issue, we learn what she did, she literally erased the mutant gene from almost all the mutants on the planet. Only a few hundred were able to be saved by Doctor Strange (shockingly, almost all of the most famous mutants were saved)…

While most of the famous mutants remained mutants, there were a few notable exceptions – Magneto, Professor X, Dani Moonster, Polaris and, it appears, Iceman…

Within a couple of years, all but Dani Moonstar would see their powers return through various methods.

Iceman, though, is a whole other story.

In X-Men #177, Bobby Drake deals with the lose of his powers…

In #178, though, he is captured by a militant anti-mutant group that figures nows is the best time to attack the X-Men.

He is about to be shot when…

In the following issue, we discover that Bobby never REALLY lost his powers…

So that was a pretty darn quick turnaround for an abandoned an’ forsaked!

If you have a suggestion for a comic plot/story idea that was abandoned an’ forsaked, let me know by e-mailing me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com

41 Comments

I don’t see how a psychosomatic reaction (which appears to be what Emma is describing) would lead to a physical brain blockage. Or how she knows Bobby’s the only one—it seems more like a writer’s fiat to prevent everyone from coming back.
So who were the writers in question?

Was Chuck Austen writing this?

Kurt’s accent is just terrible in those scans.

Seriously, other Michael. I’m now hoping that, if they bring him back, Bendis doesn’t *want* to write him.

Brian Michael Bendis did the depowering, Peter Milligan did the repowering.

Were Emma’s corsets in the wash that day? I haven’t seen her wear that much clothing since Generation X.

Charles J. Baserap

December 9, 2012 at 9:36 am

This was Milligan’s run I think, which was just downright awful. At least he gets some credit for acknowledging the history between Emma and Bobby from back in Uncanny #281.

I don’t see so much problem with the return of Iceman’s powers… the human mind can do real tricks in the psychosomatic field. Hospitals have tons of reports and cases of “miraculous cures” that, if you don’t believe in religion, are usually referred to the human mind when someone tries to explain them.

So, for me, the illusion of losing powers immediately after “No more mutants” is fittingly acceptable, if the “victim” knew about the Scarlet Witch words – and that was the case of Iceman.

We can add to it the fact that Bobby Drake has a history of complexes since the 1960’s – Bobby was the “enfant terrible” of the first X-Men (I mean the REAL First X-Men… hehe) and many of his attitudes showed clear insecurity with himself.

This aspect was even explored exactly with his experience with Emma Frost in the 1990’s – it was explained by that time that he was so insecure that he hadn’t realized the full extension of his powers. And this happened waaaaaaay before the “second mutation” explanation created by Morrison.

So I think he was a good subject to be explored in this kind of approach.

The “age regression” of Iceman (and Human Torch) was what bothered me more in the 2000’s, as Austen (and Waid, for Johnny Storm) wrote him as a problematic and airheaded brat again, in spite of the progress the character had been presenting in the previous years.

It’s funny I know Milligan gets a lot of hate for his X-run, but after reading that first arc with the attack on the school I didn’t think it was too bad. No where near on the same level of brilliance as his other stuff but still good!

Bob from Accounting

December 9, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Never mind the writing, who’s responsible for all that terrible, terrible art?

also wasnt there a storyline that dealt with Iceman actually being an Omega level mutant and not actually realizing it because his subconcious was blocking or inhibiting his full powerlevels from manifesting.

@PM Agria- I think that the problem people are having is not Bobby’s power loss being psychosomatic, which works, but Bobby’s psychosomatic power loss causing PHYSICAL changes to his brain. That was totally unnecessary, since Emma could have just read his subconscious mind or something.

interesting for given how ice man has had a history of his powers being nuts some time or he can not control them working right. that some one since their is no way marvel would have the big guns of the x-men depowered by scarlet witch . that in ice mans case some one would decide that him losing his powers could wind up just being ice mans mind playing tricks on him espically since scarlet witch’s powers do effect reality

Thats not to terrible. Now Kitty coming back from outer space, that was terrible.

Kitty going into outer space, now that was terrible…

Michael, yes. I can buy a delusion, but Emma’s quite clear there’s an actual physical obstruction in the brain, which doesn’t make sense. I thought at first she meant it metaphorically, but no.

This was done to give Iceman control of his powers again, after Chuck Austen had left him trapped in his ice-form for the ten-millionth time. I don’t know if Bendis/editorial intended it to be permanent as of HOUSE OF M, but it’s worth noting that this DID lead to a pretty major change for Bobby.

House of M was kind of weak. I don’t like the idea of a character saying ‘everything’s different now’ and suddenly it is because they made it so. It’s not dramatic or anything. If she had caused a plague or something that caused Mutants to be permenantly depowered, sure that would of worked.

My opinion.

Somehow I never caught that the reason why some mutants kept their powers was Dr. Strange managing to protect them. Was that ever directly stated in the comics, or is it just a logical combination of “well he’s clearly doing something in that panel there” and “it’s the only explanation we’ve got”?

It’s the only explanation I’ve ever heard, it makes perfect sense, and it’s right there on the page, but I’ve never actually seen anyone point it out before and I remember years of people complaining that no explanation was ever given for why some mutants weren’t de-powered after M-Day, which makes me wonder if it was never actually spelled out, or if at some point Dr. Strange actually mentioned that he’d protected a few people and a lot of readers (including me) just missed or forgot it.

Not only did Iceman get his powers back, he gained the ability to turn into a porcupine!

Didn’t the porcupine thing happen years earlier pre-Morrison?

Why is everyone complaining about the current writer giving Iceman his powers back? That’s not the problem. The problem is that Bendis decided that there should be a lot less mutants in the Marvel universe, got rid of like 75% of them (all this in House of M & Decimation), then when it was over walked away and let everyone else deal with his aftermath that he obviously didn’t really care about or he would have stuck around a little bit.

To be fair, artists have been drawing Iceman with a bunch of icicle spikes since the mid-1990s. This art by Larroca is particularly striking because the icicles look like fine quills that lodge themselves in the skin of attacking predators.

Then again, Iceman hasn’t had a good look in, well, ever. The basic look– a man made of ice– is a really strong if simple visual, but none of its variants have worked. Particularly egregious offenders include the Wrestling Championship Belt he wore in X-Factor, the aforementioned spikes, the non-iced leather trench coat look from the early 2000’s, the visible black swim trunks from the mid 2000’s, and the ice goblin in cargo shorts we have now. The only accessory that worked for the character, IMO at least, was the Ultimate bandanna.

Why is everyone complaining about the current writer giving Iceman his powers back? That’s not the problem. The problem is that Bendis decided that there should be a lot less mutants in the Marvel universe, got rid of like 75% of them (all this in House of M & Decimation), then when it was over walked away and let everyone else deal with his aftermath that he obviously didn’t really care about or he would have stuck around a little bit.

To be fair, I really doubt Bendis forced this status quo on anyone. Do you really think one writer, even Marvel’s golden boy, could unilaterally impose such a huge status quo change on the whole X-office, especially when he’s not even an X-writer? Most likely this was done by editorial consensus, and the X-office wanted this change to come about. They needed to get to a certain point to tell the stories they wanted to tell, and Bendis was assigned the task of leaving the mutants in a state where they could tell those stories.

Surely nobody believes that 75% of all mutants losing there powers was any significant change to status quo in the Marvel Universe, when as noted above, nothing really changed bar a few minor characters?

@BurningDoom- pretty sure it wasn’t Bendis that decided on his lonesome to eliminate the majority of the mutants. Bendis is the hired gun here, Joe Quesada as editor-in-chief ordered the hit. Quesada was the one talking for awhile like his Cup O’ Joe panel here, about “genies” he had to put back in the bottle, like Spider-Man & MJ’s marriage and the number of mutants in the Marvel Universe. Bendis is on contract with Marvel and his first company-wide Event writing assignment was House of M where he had to reduce the number of mutants to a manageable level and return them to a minority status.

I thought this may have been an out for other mutant characters to regain their powers…

As for Iceman having some actually go wrong with his brain…in some people seizures have been know to be brought on by stress…the mind can effect the body in weird ways…something that may not be physical can soon have a physical symptom(phantom pregnancy, stress induced loss of sight).

And well this is a guy who changes into ice…he could have just buggered up changing back into human from in a hurry causing the brain issue.

Quesada was the one trumpeting Decimation. I want to recall that Quesada was the one responsible for the rather questionable/laughable claim that there were too many mutants for writers to be able to use mutants as a metaphor for writing about minorities. (So if there are a few million of you worldwide, you no longer can reflect a minority?)

Of course, after House of M the various X writers still weren’t writing those stories, were still introducing new powered characters, and were largely trying to write around the Decimation status quo.

Who knows though, maybe it was just one of the several ways that Marvel was trying to back away from Morrison’s run (where mutants ended up being a pretty decent reflection of a real world minority, but not the “mutants are feared and loathed and let’s light the torches and grab our pitchforks” classic Marvel style.)

Ah, I laughed and laughed at the “shockingly, almost all the famous mutants were saved” line.

I bet Bobby had just done some accounting and it made his haid hurt, so that’s what happened. Yeah.

But as a gay friend of mine says, if Quesada wants Marvel to do stories about minorities, they can just write about minorities. It’s no longer necessary to have a metaphorical stand-in.

ZZZ: “Somehow I never caught that the reason why some mutants kept their powers was Dr. Strange managing to protect them. Was that ever directly stated in the comics, or is it just a logical combination of “well he’s clearly doing something in that panel there” and “it’s the only explanation we’ve got”?
It’s the only explanation I’ve ever heard, it makes perfect sense, and it’s right there on the page, but I’ve never actually seen anyone point it out before and I remember years of people complaining that no explanation was ever given for why some mutants weren’t de-powered after M-Day, which makes me wonder if it was never actually spelled out, or if at some point Dr. Strange actually mentioned that he’d protected a few people and a lot of readers (including me) just missed or forgot it.”

I never caught that explanation either. Does anyone know what issue specifically states that Dr. Strange was involved in some of the mutants keeping their mutations?

Yeah, that first Nightcrawler speech bubble is jarring. Give me the occasional “Zum Tuefel!” or “Mein Gott!” over “Bad Vampire Impersonation” any day.

Bobby’s “wrestling belt” era might make for a good A&F. Was that ever fixed in-story? I wanna say that it was, maybe during the Infectia stuff. Might be just a dream I had. I don’t remember him sporting the belt during Inferno – even with the big power showcase for him at the end where he freezes the demon citadel (which would imply restored control).

Russkafin, I’ve heard people mentioning Doctor Strange for years.

If you go with the argument that the mutants next to him were protected, then you still have the issue of random mutants around the world keeping their powers. If you go with the argument that he protected random mutants, then you still have the high concentration of “popular” mutants who kept their powers.

And through it all, you have the overriding evidence that the whole event and its fallout was just an utter mess performed with little planning and no attempt at organization. It was, as Quesada seemed famous for, a big picture idea where no one bothered to coordinate the details. Thus we had the evolving claim of what “198” meant (as readers kept discrediting the various claims), the flip-flopping of whether 1% or 10% of mutants kept their powers (and neither number fit the “reality”), the books with conflicting descriptions of just what Wanda had done, that different characters lost their powers in different ways, etc.

Jeez, that’s pretty bad writing there. I’m a big fan of Peter Milligan, but he’s just never been a good fit on superhero material (outside X-Statix, of course). Probably why he’s not a star on the level of Morrison, Millar, Ellis, and the others of his generation.

@ Jax

It changed the status quo a lot more than it seems at first glance. Prior to House of M, Marvel was putting out a lot of stories about mutant culture and life: the miniseries “Muties”, “Morlocks”, “The Brotherhood”, and “NYX”; the series “District X”, “X-Force/X-Statix”, and “New Mutants/Academy X”; and things like the X-Corporation, mutant fashion designers, and whatever else. And that’s not even getting into the non-strictly-superhero stuff they were trying like “Mystique” and “Sentinel”.

After the Decimation, though, all the stories were about the mutant messiah and Utopia and the war between Wolverine and Cyclops.

Some people want to blame Bendis for everything. I think having his de-powering being all in his head is historically accurate with the character. I disagree with him never having a good look. His regular Iceman form as presented by the likes of Whilce Portacio or Jim Lee was great. I’ve never liked the weird shapes that started in the mid-90’s. I actually miss his classic look we saw from the 70’s til the early 90’s. Any good or great artist should make it look good just by their art alone. I also have issues with him being able to be blown apart and piece himself back together ala the evil Terminator in T2. There are a lot of things they can do that is historically accurate or even adding to the character within reason but the weird shapes just never appealed to me.

I have to agree with Billy here a lot of the Quesada era events had gaping holes in logic. Quesada was the one wanting less mutants and he was the one wanting Peter Parker’s marriage undone. Bendis gets the blame cause he wrote the House of M but anyone with insight into this knows it was a mandate by Quesada the king of bad storytelling and illogical thinking. Want to undo Peter Parker’s marriage? Have his aunt near death for the billionth time and have him (well technically Mary Jane) agree to a deal with Mephisto to take his marriage like an important sacrificial lamb so Aunt May the undead can once again live to ruin more comic-book stories. Yeah it’s reasonable for a guy like Peter Parker who couldn’t get a date in highschool to do away with his marriage to the hot supermodel who actually liked him. Just like getting rid of most mutants but somehow almost all the popular ones remained unaffected. If only we can undo Quesada’s time as the head of Marvel….

Add me to the list that read all the stories but never knew Dr. Strange saved the 198 or whatever. I guess that would make some sense that he could subconsciously influence his spell to be more likely to save the mutants he knew, and had heard of, then it just reached out and grabbed as many as it could in time. Being magic, it’s not an exact science.

I just wish Wanda had said “No More Summerses.” I am so damn sick of that whole family. The only one I ever even halfway liked was the dad, just because he was a space pirate.

Actually, in the director’s cut, buttler, Wanda did a bit of a Porky Pig thing:

“No More Summe–summerererer–Sum–beedee–No More Mutants!”

That’s all, folks!

All these comments just remind me of why I barely read Marvel at all for like ten years. Despite all the complaints, I’m actually more excited for Marvel Now than I have been about that company in a long time.

Sob, that business suit is one of the most game outfits I’ve ever seen Emma Frost wear.

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