Iceman In Animation - A Retrospective
Part One -
A popular member of the group since it’s interpretation, Iceman has found himself in nearly all of the X-Men’s various incarnations in one way or another, often with commendable results. He’s never quite reached Wolverine, Cyclops or Nightcrawler levels of popularity but could probably consider himself among the B list when it comes to popularity amongst fans.
As with all the other original X-Men, Iceman got his cartoon start rolling in the Marvel Superheroes Show in the Namor segment. A rare cartoon in every right, the episode isn’t spoken of fondly by those who have seen it, myself not among those “lucky” folks. The episode is based off Jack Kirby’s design, which looks pretty ridiculous in the modern day. He looks like a snowman in black boots rather than a guy covered in ice. I won’t speak much more of this episode, because I’ve done it that many times before and I don’t really know what else to say. If I’m going to continue doing this, I really should make an effort to watch this episode, shouldn’t I?
Iceman would surprisingly take near centre stage the next time he was animated. With the syndicated 1980’s solo Spider-Man show proving that Spider-Man could work on TV again, NBC ordered an all new Spider-Man show to air on it’s network, once they had induced their own mandates onto the show of course. The first, and main one from the sounds of things – Spider-Man is to be part of a team. To their credit, they (and audiences) had already see solo Spidey, now was the time for something new. It is rumoured that the original line up was to be Spider-Man, Iceman and The Human Torch but that was nixed and a female was encouraged to be included to attract girl viewers. I am not sure why Iceman specifically was chosen and have never managed to obtain that tell all interview for this show as I have a few others nut regardless, Iceman was chosen to be Spider-Man’s amazing friend and th two of them were joined by original character Firestar – together, they would be the Spider-Friends.
Some fans balked at the idea of Spider-Man being in a team – I thought it worked. I think Spider-Man certainly works better solo – the idea of him being in The Avengers goes against the very core of the character to me (the fact that since they’ve made a huge fuss over The New Avengers and they’ve yet to do anything of real relevance only angers me further), but this version of Spider-Man is still the one we know and love, it’s just that he now shares a flat with two fellow crime fighters. Spider-Man is still the star of course, Firestar is his would be romantic interest and Iceman plays best pal. He does this very well, with a string of classic one-liners and constantly playing the dumb one to super smart scientist Spidey. Bobby’s foot is constantly in his mouth from the opening moments of The Triumph Of The Green Goblin right the way through to the closing moments of Mission: Save The Guardstar. Whether asking Kraven The Hunter if he can borrow 50 bucks for the rent or letting The Green Goblin kidnap Mona
Osborn right in front of him, Bobby was always fun to watch. Both he and Spider-Man obviously have feelings for Firestar and they even admit it to each other but Spidey claims that he’s scared in case he ruins their friendship an puts an end to the Spider-Friends. My own assumption for Bobby not telling her about his feelings is that deep down; he knows she’s got a thing for Peter. Any other fans of the show have any thoughts on this?
Frank Welker provides the voice of Iceman – it’s perfect casting. There are few that can deliver a good one liner quite like Welker and it sounds like he had a lot of fun with the role. I honestly can’t think of anyone who could’ve done this role better, he was simply perfect for it. I don’t think he would’ve fit in with any other version of the character, but Welker was perfect for amazing friends. Design wise, Iceman is very nice. The show had simple, smooth designs, which usually translated well into animation, and Iceman is no exception.
In the show, both Iceman and Firestar are former X-Men members but left, there’s no bitter break up, presumably they left to attend ESU, where they met Spider-Man and Peter Parker. In a nice nod to the show’s actual origin, Peter meets Angelica because her dog runs into him (the show was green light when the producers agreed for the trio to have a comedy dog). The show was all about having fun and no one did it better than Iceman. There’s nothing too serious about this cartoon, it was made in the 80’s after all. It can be described as harmless fun to most but if you’re not familiar with cartoons from this era, you’d probably struggle to watch it now – this is everything Batman: The Animated Series isn’t.
Iceman’s origin is told in season two (curiously, all of season two is a mere three episodes in length and they are all origin episodes). It’s not very good – Videoman is featured which means it’s already a lot worse than it should be. Iceman’s origin takes a back story to this most feeble of villains, but the animation is superlative and we get a cool cameo from Professor Xavier, who contacts Bobby after noticing his heroic deed of saving a woman from a burning building. In turn, he offers Bobby in his School For Gifted Youngsters. Sadly, Firestar’s origin episode isn’t as good as Bobby’s, but we do get a whoop ass appearance from Juggernaut in that one. Ironically enough, Spider-Man’s own origin episode, the story we’ve all seen a hundred times is actually one of the show’s jewel episodes. They took the right approach to origin stories – tell it again to remind the character why he became Spider-Man in the first place – add that extra layer to his character rather than just re-treading over old ground.
The season three premiere (Spider-Man: Unmasked for those too lazy to head over to MAA to read James’ review of it) only serves to remind us that The Sandman is a little too stupid to make the connection that Angelica Jones and Bobby Drake are Firestar and Iceman respectively and that the same are the sidekicks here – Spider-Man is the star of the show. The other two are simply unable to beat The Sandman. Great episode. Silly conclusion, but wonderful first and second acts more than make up for it.
The show’s finale sees Iceman reunited with his sister, Lightwave a character made specifically for this show. The episode goes that wee bit darker than most do, with Iceman being forced to fight his brainwashed sister but this isn’t the show’s finale – it’s simply the place where they stopped making new episodes. There’s no resolution – it all simply ends. To get a small glimpse of how Dennis Marks planned to end it, along with gorgeous fan art, head over to www.spider-friends.com. Given that the show’s release on DVD is nothing more than a pipe dream at this stage, I’m hoping the webmaster will diverge further information, if he is allowed. Wink wink, nudge nudge!
So, since temperature related puns are mandatory in this instance, what we got was a very cool, likeable version of Iceman. What we would get next would be much, much colder…