This post originally appeared on Panels, which is now Book Riot Comics
The best X-Men stories are usually a combination of over the top action, soap opera-level melodrama, and a sprinkling of ridiculousness. Unfortunately, so are the worst X-Men adventures. During Chuck Austen and Philip Tan’s The Draco arc, running through Uncanny X-Men #428–434, it was revealed that Nightcrawler’s father was the extra-dimensional demon lord Azazel. After years of being absent from Nightcrawler’s life, he somehow managed to kidnap the teleporter and bring him to his hell-adjacent dimension. Havok, Husk, Jubilee, Angel, Wolverine and Iceman chased after their friend, following him into the depths of, well, not hell, but also not not hell. During one of the initial conflicts on this chase, Iceman was struck by an arrow, and then it exploded. It’s not really clear why the arrow exploded, but it obliterated all but his head.
Now, at this time Iceman’s power set was going through a bit of a shift. No longer was he only able to freeze the water around him, but he was now able to shape the ice into extensions of his body. This extended to him being able to replace a lost hand with an ice duplicate. Somewhere along the line, and vaguely explained, he gained the ability to transmute the replacement ice parts back into flesh and blood. Basically, if he could stay in ice form, he was functionally immortal.
The team gets into a big fight with Azazel’s forces. Wolverine and Angel get separated from the team, and Bobby’s head ends up being imprisoned with Havok, Husk, Jubilee, and Carter. Carter, a young boy, had stowed away on the X-Plane to be near Havok, who was currently dating his mother. Carter uses his psychic power to read Iceman’s mind.
Though still alive and seemingly unaffected by the pain his body went through at being blown apart, Bobby is unable to reform himself because there’s no water in the air in this hell dimension. Apparently it is a dry heat.
Bobby’s thoughts slip from the horror of the moment to being angry at Havok for stealing Polaris and Carter’s mother from him. Hell is other people, after all.
Havok responds by threatening to help Bobby reform his body, with all the water he drank before embarking on the mission! Bobby’s look of icy horror has stuck with me all these years later.
And then, that’s it. We don’t see any more of this team for another issue. When we do pick up with them, things have calmed down considerably. (And the art has taken a pretty serious right turn in style, too, as Takeshi Miyazawa replaces Philip Tan on pencils to finish the story arc.) Havok apologizes for threatening to pee Iceman back to having a body. However, the group do decide to allow Iceman to sap a little bit of their body water to reconstitute himself. Of course, since the easiest water to take from his friends without harming them would be their waste water, it’s bit confusing as to how accepting the offer from the four of them is better than Havok’s threat from last issue.
But then their bodily fluid sharing party gets cut short by a mysterious denizen of this hell dimension who is wrapped in bandages and who proudly declares she has no eyes (despite, you know, actually having them). The team try to fight her off, but her body distorts and changes to evade their blows.
As she is just about to crush the skulls of Carter and Husk, she begins to shrivel up. And then her head pops off. As you do.
Iceman desiccated her, literally pulling all the water out of her and freezing it to remake his body. It’s an interesting usage of Bobby’s freezing powers, though it’s visualized oddly. It’s also straight-up cold-hearted murder.
What’s interesting is that I didn’t remember how Bobby remade himself. I always remembered Havok’s urination ultimatum, but never how Bobby saved himself until I went searching through back issues recently. To my mind, replacing your body with the unknown water content of a strange demonic figure is somehow worse than your teammates offering up a small amount of water to accomplish the same. I’ve always wondered if the swift hand of editorial came in and fixed this before it saw print.
A decade later, in Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness’s Amazing X-Men #2, the X-Men return to Azazel’s realm to again rescue – the then deceased – Nightcrawler. After Bobby
reenacts Frozen uses every last bit of his energy to freeze the entirety of the hell dimension, he quips to Firestar that his mouth “Tastes like yellow snow.” Happy coincidence, intentional gag, unwitting homage?
Yep, that happened.