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It only took Bobby Drake five decades and an alternate timeline version of his younger self to come out.
Drake, who is now unquestionably the most famous gay superhero, got outed a day ahead of schedule. The leak appeared late Monday on 4chan, much to Bendis’ chagrin:
i swear on my dogs, i wanted the issue to come out and just be. no press. no sensational headlines. no leaks. oh, well.
— BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS (@BRIANMBENDIS) April 21, 2015
Bendis went on to add on his Tumblr that he hoped fans would pick up the full comic and not just read a few pages out of context on the Internet.
Despite years of hints, Drake, former beau of Kitty Pryde, has never actually taken a stroll along the Kinsey Scale. But things aren’t going to be easy for the guy who once quit life as a crime-fighting mutant in order to study accounting. Younger Bobby Drake is a teenager who’s traveled forward through time to fight alongside his older X-Men counterparts. With this issue, teenage Jean Grey calls him out on his biggest secret. But his older self, the Bobby Drake most of us know best, is still squarely repressed.
Speaking to MTV, Marvel’s editor-in-chief, Axel Alonso, said that while the company is committed to diversity, the decision to bring Bobby out of the closet rested on the merits of Bendis’ script.
“It was our subsequent conversations about what the next story would be that really sold me,” Alonso continued. “This is a character with decades of history, and one who we’ve seen falter on the romantic stage — more than once. So the seeds were always there.”
Fans were immediately ecstatic—including actor Shawn Ashmore, who plays Iceman in the X-Men film franchise:
Others chimed in, noting that they’d known all along:
I knew Iceman was gay before he did, just like a supportive high school teacher!
— Daniel Kibblesnoke (@kibblesmith) April 21, 2015
Badass Digest’s Devin Faraci weirdly didn’t get it:
Iceman is now gay. I’m torn between disliking retcons and being glad a founding X-Man represents diversity.
— devin faraci (@devincf) April 21, 2015
But many fans including an ebullient Anthony Oliveira pointed out that this reveal had been a very long time coming:
also if you’re a homophobe upset we’re stealing all your favourite characters and making them gay: YOU’RE RIGHT.
CAPTAIN AMERICA IS NEXT
— max im a koopa (@meakoopa) April 21, 2015
One of the best things about the nature of this reveal is that it subtly deflects attention away from the “scandal” of Iceman being gay and fits it into a bigger picture: tension between teenage Bobby and his elder counterpart. The generation gap is a major focus of All-New X-Men, and as BuzzFeed points out, the conversation Jean and Bobby have about why his older self would still be in the closet most likely means that a confrontation between the two of them will happen soon.
This means that we might actually get to see Bobby Drake come out of the closet not once, but twice. If that’s not reason to add All-New X-Men to your pull list, we have three words for you: Iceman/Pyro fanfic.
Photo via JD Hancock/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Aja Romano is a geek culture reporter and fandom expert. Their reporting at the Daily Dot covered everything from Harry Potter and anime to Tumblr and Gamergate. Romano joined Vox as a staff reporter in 2016.