Monday, 14 October 2013

ICE #2: "Instant Karma!"

("Pretty soon you're gonna be dead.")


Well, this is certainly uncompromising in its lunacy.  It actually comes across as something of a forerunner to Claremont's Excalibur wackiness, what with all the time-hopping antics, and Alan Kupperberg's pencils being not a million miles away from Alan Davis' approach.  Also, there's a fleet of giant flying killer spiders.  You know, for when a fleet of giant scuttling killer spiders just isn't going to get the job done.

Said arachnid air-force is under the control of Kali, who has been sent to finish the job White Light and The Idiot messed up in the first issue. Before she gets the chance to impinge on the narrative, though, Iceman needs to get out of his current predicament: arrested by an obnoxious mutaphobe cop for the crime of not saving his neighbours' house when suddenly attacked by supervillains.

The solution to this problem turns out to be absurdly simple: Iceman simply tells the police chief the beings that attacked him were Communist agents, and he's immediately sprung.  That's kind of ironic, when you consider Iceman was part of the original Sentinel storyline back in the '60s, which Stan Lee seemed very clearly to be using as a commentary on HUAC and the Blacklist.  You'd think a mutant would be more careful about the idea of using institutionalised bigotry in order to make others out as villains. Even when the people he's fingering are violent kidnappers, it just reinforces the underlying problem.  In his defence, Bobby does at least realise this is a concern, though not quite fully. His problem is how easy it is to lie to people when one has high level government clearance (given to the New Defenders recently), which is fair enough, but given that clearance, couldn't he have come up with a less damaging lie?

Anyway.  Bobby heads home and finds a strange box in the ruins of the Smith house.  He scoops this up and climbs into his bedroom window, only to find his parents waiting for him. They are less than pleased.

In later years it becomes standard shorthand for Bobby's father that he's a bigot.  Here the initial seeds for that are planted, but it's worth noting that things are clearly more complicated than the man simply hating mutants.  What drives Willie Drake is clearly fear.  The man is terrified his son is going to get himself killed by embracing who he is, rather than just pretending to be normal and keeping himself safe.  Sure, Willie tells Bobby he has "brought [his] poison right to our doorstep", but again, it's not clear he's referring to his son's nature, as oppose to his insistence on flouting that nature.  I'm obviously not trying to excuse this attitude. Everyone gets to make their own choice as to whether to out themselves, and to whom. My point is just that fear for his son's life - and, yes, his wife's and his own - is a more complex motivation than Willie Drake tends to get in the X-books; at least until Operation: Zero Tolerance.

Bobby's mother Maddie gets to contribute to all of this as well, of course.  She points out his father has a weak heart, and so Bobby will kill him if he doesn't do exactly what he's told.  "Don't kill your father!" she wails.  In summary: fuck Maddie Drake.

Having this blazing row with his parents makes Bobby nostalgic for his youth, looking at a holiday snap of him and his parents when he was three years old in (according to our timeline) 1964.  He starts to ruminate on how his parents were about his age back then.  This, for the record, is ridiculous.  Bobby's mother was thirty-nine in '64, and his father, if anything, is slightly older than that.  There is quite simply no way a twenty-year old is going to describe people hovering around forty as "not much older" than themselves. A twenty-year old is well ahead of the curve if they can see people two decades over as more than shambling, pointless zombies.  For someone as self-absorbed and superficial as Bobby, forty must seem almost literally unimaginable.

Implausible or not, though, Iceman's thoughts are picked up by the strange box he rescued from what remains of the Smith house, and it begins to beep.  A few seconds later, it has thrown him back through time.

(Somewhere in England, 1892, Maddy Smith and her family detect the "bounce-box" as it activates. Maddy is irritated that they clearly left one of their time-travelling devices in 1984 when they made a bid for freedom at the end of last issue, but she resists calls from her family to assist Bobby.  Much better to stay in hiding during what the comic calls "Days of innocence", presumably because all the violent English types were over in Nigeria hosing down native infantry columns with machine guns.)

Bobby's impromptu time-jaunt comes to an end in 1942 New York. Unfortunately,  he materialises next to another unpleasant cop - this isn't really much of an advert for New York's Finest, really; every cop is either a bigot, a trigger-happy lunatic, a gullible rube, or too stupid to close the door during a snowstorm - who shoots him for the crime of running away whilst scantily-clad.  Somehow - half-remembered photos, maybe, or the influence of the box - our hero finds himself outside the home of the wartime iteration of his parents. Bleeding badly and clutching his strange box, he passes out, but his mother- and father-to-be take him in and bandage his wound.

(OK, seriously.  How pissed off would you be if you had a box that could take you anywhere in time and you wasted it on visiting your parents?  I mean, maybe if one or both were dead it'd be nice, but two still-living and exceptionally difficult models? Screw that.  There are way too many more interesting options available.

See what I mean?)

When Bobby awakes he understandably finds events a little difficult to process, but fortunately he doesn't have to negotiate the emotional mine-field for long, because Kali chooses this moment to attack with her winged spiders (which apparently come with back-mounted heat rays as standard - handy). Marge Smith - watching events on some kind of time-scanner - still refuses to help, too scared of capture, but Willie Drake rushes out to lend Bobby a hand, grabbing the strange box on the way in case Iceman has some use for it.

Outside, Iceman gets as far as persuading Kali that Marge is nowhere nearby, but that just changes her mission from capturing Marge to torturing Bobby until he gives Marge up.  Eventually, Marge relents, and sends Kali a message giving away her location to save Bobby.  Kali beats a hasty retreat, but by then it's too late: Willie Drake has fallen in battle. Bobby Drake has killed his father! Foreshadowing, bitches! Do you see?

With Bobby's father dead nineteen years before Bobby's birth, the Grandfather Paradox kicks in with a vengeance, and Bobby disappears from causality.  Which, let's be fair, is a pretty good cliffhanger. Tune in next time, etc.


This story takes place in three time-zones, though the majority of time is spent in 1942, which is where we'll focus.  The Daily Bugle Iceman catches sight of upon arrival mentions that General McArthur is now in Australia, and gives the date as March 15th, 1942.

(Given McArthur had only been in Australia for three days by that point, I wonder if that news really did break so quickly?  It wasn't until the 20th of March that McArthur gave a speech about his return to the Australian people.)


Saturday 15th March, 1942.



(Roughly) Contemporary Events

General McArthur arrives in Australia after escaping with his family and staff from the besieged Corrigedo island. 

Australia and New Zealand declare war on Thailand.

Standout Line

"Funny, when you get the high level government clearance... people start believing whatever you tell them! I don't think I like that."

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