"I must flee this madness"
Oh, so that's why the series was cancelled. After Friedrich did a decent job last issue forcing the X-Men to confront Juggernaut alone and deal with breaking up, he follows it up with a real dud. I hesitate to call it as bad as the Mekano or Spidey issue, since it's still early into his run as a writer, and Thomas pulled those out after several issues' experience. It starts out with an almost promising premise: Hank and Bobby are trying to find solace with their girls, in the wake of their recent disbandment, but Friedrich can't do anything original with it. It's the same thing we've seen too many times, now: they impress the girls for a minute, a villain shows up, they sneak off into their costumes and stop the bad guy, then tell the girls they had to flee. Friedrich teases us with potential movement in that the girls seem thoroughly fed up with this never-ending routine, but they cave in at the last moment and all is back to normal: a montage of mostly forgettable moments. It's been days since the breakup, and the two mutant heroes are still moping and for some reason not even talking to each other about it - not very true to their characters, really (even though they haven't been through this before - it just doesn't feel right). Why are they still in NYC, together? Agent Duncan made it sound like he was going to separate them immediately. Something is off (and it's this whole issue). Before meeting the main villain, we have yet another Beast + Iceman vs. NYC yahoos battle, which doesn't go anywhere. For some reason, after years of training, the Beast is afraid to attack people in the light for fear he will show off his mutant powers. This makes no sense. Can't he just grab people and punch them with his massive strength? He's a big guy - it wouldn't be "revealing" anything. Making it more bizarre, Bobby shoots an ice bolt out of his fingers at the breaker box (which just happens to be next to their table), which shuts off the electricity somehow. So much for not wanting to reveal powers in the light! Keeping with what seems to be a hallmark of Friedrich's tenure, instead of creating a new villain or coming up with an original idea, he brings back an old villain with a trite idea: the Warlock is back, somehow, inexplicably, and doing low-rate hypnotist acts in some scheme to conquer NYC with a sleeper-cell of normal humans. We get no insight into what his master plan is, which actually is for the best - it's doubtful it would have been anything interesting. The battle is mostly unremarkable, except Bobby's use of his powers. Out of nowhere, Bobby has apparently learned how to do interesting things with his powers: here, he forms a gigantic, super-strong ice hand to grab huge stereo equipment and use against the Warlock (called "Maha Yogi" in this issue). Let's hope Bobby continues to be creative and powerful, perhaps that will provide a modicum of enjoyment in this moribund series.
The spotlight on Iceman's powers is another testament to why the series was cancelled. Its tone is incredibly juvenile, somewhat justifying the bad reputation "comic books" sometimes have. It would be nice if Iceman actually had the powers he talks about - perhaps he would have been more effective in some battles over the years (beyond killing the recently unfrozen Frankenstein's monster with ... ice). Unfortunately, the gang feels some need to justify Bobby's powers, making it almost as nonsensical as Cyclops' "I'm a giant plant, turning the sun into energy!" fiasco. Apparently Bobby turns the moisture of the world into ice. This almost makes sense, except the air never loses moisture around him, or the X-Men would probably never be able to breathe when he's around doing his thing. The whole "I can shoot ice cubes out of my chest whenever I want" panel is proof enough why the X-Men series needed to be shelved - if the creative teams aren't going to take their creation seriously, give it up. Following this, two contiguous panels contradict each other painfully: first, Bobby says he has to take his clothes off before icing up, or his suddenly-frozen clothes will give him "instant over-exposure!" Erg. As if being a walking iceman is not enough exposure to ice? Wearing clothes of ice will hurt him? The next panel further confuses us: Bobby brags about his ability to only freeze up parts of his body at a time (which we saw him do way back in issue 9). If he can do this, certainly he can freeze his body without freezing the clothes he is wearing, right? The next page shows him relaxing in the polar regions. Wearing ice clothes is too much, but being a man of ice sitting on frozen tundra in the arctic is relaxing. Bobby tells us "I'd rather do my hibernating in a frozen food locker!" (everything was exclamation points those days). Apparently the target audience of this "origins series" is 3-year-olds. I know the contemporaneous audience nummed this up like it was free cheeseburgers, but for me this was disappointing drivel. I would probably feel that way if I was three.