Oh man — Marvel recently released a preview of the 1:50 variant cover to “All-New X-Men” #1 by Paolo Rivera. As an Iceman fan this may have to be the first ever 1:50 variant I purchase.

So cool.

Holy cats- we’re at the Top 5! Wow. It seems like only yesterday we started counting down from number 75. I honestly feel that these 5 remaining mutants who close out the power rankings are the most powerful and bad ass that the X-Men have to offer. So brace yourself. Things are about to get intense!

So what are power rankings? Mostly used to rank sports teams on how well they are playing now, my power rankings are a list of X-Men based on what their power set is in current continuity (or most recent appearance). Other factors that determined a character’s ranking are: what their power potential is, what they’ve already proven they can do (so long as it is still relevant in current continuity), and their over all level of badassness. If you disagree with me that’s totally cool- please leave a civilized comment explaining why. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, and while I believe this list to be very solid in it’s numbering, I want to hear your thoughts! Now onto my favorite comic book character of all time:

Iceman#5 Iceman: Bobby Drake gets next to no props in the Marvel Universe, but that isn’t the case with our list of power rankings. Sure Iceman has been pretty quiet since Messiah Complex- all he did was rescue a displaced group of New X-Men in the Blackbird. Pixie had teleported them all in random spots throughout the state in order to escape an assault from The Reavers. Drake was also featured in a short side story in Manifest Destiny where he got the closure he needed for his tattered relationship with Mystique. He also made a brief appearance in the current Utopia story (and hopefully his role will increase), but the reason why he ranks so high on our list is because of his power potential. Bobby is an Omega Level mutant and is virtually indestructible. Just check out his power set.

Powers: Magneto may be able to pull the iron out of your body, but Iceman can freeze your water molecules. Yeah. Imagine that- having your molecular structure frozen solid… talk about freezing to death! To be more technical, Iceman has the power of Thermokinesis which allows him to lower his internal and external body temperature, projecting intense coldness from his body. His body tissue is unaffected by the cold, and he can reach absolute zero and lower within a few tenths of a second. As his body temperature reduces, the surrounding moisture in the air that is in contact with his body is also lowered, resulting in the icy covering around him. When he moves, this covering cracks and breaks, but it instantaneously reformed around his skin. However, his secondary mutation has given him the awesome ability to completely turn into organic ice, and the effects of this are very extreme. In this form he becomes translucent and virtually indestructible; he can reform if shattered and can survive incineration or any other form of destruction. Provided there is at least a single molecule of moisture in his general vicinity, Iceman cannot be killed. He also uses this form to create spikes, shields, and extra appendages. Bobby can even ‘liquify’ himself, giving him the ability to instantly travel through bodies of water by fusing himself with the liquid- much like an electrical current passes through a metal wire. This ability also gives him the power to fuse that water with himself, making him gigantic in size and strength. He can even transform into water vapor and remain conscious with full access to his mutant powers.

There’s more. Bobby can be selective and choose to freeze certain parts of his body at a time while others remain unfrozen. He can freeze the blood flow in another living being, and can even transform people into a form of water vapor and then reverse the process as a form of teleportation. Due to the absence of heat around him, Iceman can see heat signatures and freeze any form of moisture (even if it’s in the air) into solid ice, molding it into the shape of his choosing, being limited only by his imagination. Bobby doesn’t need to be in direct physical contact with anything to freeze it, all he needs to do is direct his projected waves of coldness in specific ways, creating the shape he desires. This is how he is able to create his trademark ice slides. Bobby is also a highly trained accountant.

Yeah, Iceman is bad ass.

First Appearance: X-Men #1, 1963.

I’m trying a new way to review a number of titles in a quick, to the point style; The One Hitter. Here I will briefly review a handful of comics, giving quick insights and opinions on the works. In this first installment I’ll be reviewing Astonishing X-Men #26, Secret Invasion: X-Men #1, and X-Men First Class Volume 2 #15.

Astonishing X-Men #26

To quote Cyclops:

“Everything takes second place to there being enough adult mutants alive to protect the new generation.”

Yep, Scott Summers, the former golden boy of the Xavier Institute has spoken these words. I was of the crowd who despised Cyclops, turned off by his ‘by the book’ mentality and teachers pet attitude. But the Cyclops of 2008 is not the Cyclops of the 90’s and earlier. The transformation of his character over recent years has been an awesome thing to behold, and Scott Summers is quickly becoming one of my favorite X-Men. He lays down the law (even to the former leader of the Gold Team), comfortable in his new role as head of the X-Men. The new Cyclops is not afraid to remind his fellow teammates that the world has changed, thus forcing the methods of the X-Men to dramatically change as well. Heck, even Wolverine now respects his fearless leader, taking orders from him without question. It cannot be denied that Cyclops’ new rhetoric and methods echo that of a long time enemy of the X-Men…

4/5 stars

-Secret Invasion: X-Men #1

While this issue’s art isn’t the best, the script delivers. For once the X-Men actually kick the crap out of their enemies and look good doing so. I mean, Cyclops blasts a freaking Skrull ship in half all by his lonesome! To quote:

“You’ve got your targets. Hit them until they stop moving.”

Like I said, Cyclops has become more bad ass.

Even a Skrull commander can’t help but poop his pants a little as he announces the arrival of the X-Men to his fellow warriors. His expression says it all, “We’re dealing with the X-Men!”

As silly as this issue is at times (and it has its moments), it shows the X-Men acting as a team, complete with different strike forces. The mutants inside these strike forces play to their powers, thus allowing the X-Men to operate as a cohesive unit. It’s nice to see that.

Writer Mike Carey must be a fan of Canadian brew as a member of the San Francisco PD is named ‘Molson.’ There’s even a small tribute to The Lord of the Rings in this issue

3/5 stars

-X-Men First Class Vol. 2 #15

I enjoy this series and while the last few issues haven’t been great, I’m sad to hear the title is getting the ax from Marvel. This comic is a light, fun read and Jeff Parker’s writing is witty, humorous, and befitting the characters. To quote Iceman:

“It’s bad enough when women drivers won’t admit their badness, but the crazy hair is too much!”

I love it.

While this title makes the original X-Men more identifiable to a modern audience by putting them in a present day setting, the style of story telling remains true to the original stories from the 60’s; The villain is met within the first few pages, the X-Men work together as a team to defeat them, and everything is hunky dory at the end. Corny? Absolutely. Entertaining? Even more so. There is a panel in this issue where Professor Xavier is stumped while trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube, which tickled my funny bone. To boot, these issues are one of the few (if not only) places Jean Grey appears in the pages of a comic book.

3/5 stars

Long time X-Men fans are going to love this book! The first issue of a four issue mini series, X-Men Manifest Destiny #1 contains three short stories featuring Iceman and former New Mutants Boom-Boom and Karma.

To be blunt, I was entertained from cover to cover.

Brief plot synopsis for story one:

The first story kicks off with the lead character, Iceman, in an apartment with his old flame, Opal (remember her?). Bobby Drake can’t manage to get his body warm, and the condition begins to seriously concern him as turning into Iceman only worsens the problem. He calls on the X-Men for help…

Some thoughts:

Writer Mike Carey really likes the character of Iceman and it shows. His use of Opal, a character from Bobby’s past, makes this Iceman fan feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Plus, Carey provides a twist in the plot which I didn’t see coming, and his ending of part one of a four part story leaves the reader wanting more.

**MINOR SPOILER**

I rarely give spoilers, let alone comment on them, but I need to make an exception here. I mentioned in my review Uncanny Is An Understatement about how Beast is apparently losing his secondary mutation and I posed the question if this would happen to other mutants. As Bobby can’t seem to warm himself up, could this be the case for him as well? If so, we may see the trend continue in other characters who have developed secondary mutations… like Emma Frost.

**END MINOR SPOILER**

It’s great to see Bobby caring about his powers and actually making a serious effort at developing them. Being a fan of Iceman’s, I’m loving this story and am eagerly anticipating the next chapter.

Brief plot synopsis for story two:

The next story features Tabitha Smith, a.k.a ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Boom-Boom,’ squaring off against a new villain whom she despises like no other!

Some thoughts:

Artist Chris Burnham truly captures the look of Tabitha, complete with a wardrobe of slinky slips and time bomb earrings. James Asmus writes the story in the style of an early 90’s sitcom which totally fits the character of Boom-Boom. I found myself laughing out loud and the end tag line is hilarious!

On a different note, has anyone else noticed the surprising amount of Stephen Colbert campaign signs that have found their way into comics lately? I’ve seen this Easter Egg in a number of different titles…

Brief plot synopsis for story three:

The issue’s final stoy features the fist ever New Mutant to appear in print, Shan a.k.a Karma, and focuses on her inability to control her mind possession powers.

Some thoughts:

The art by David Yardin is the best in the issue, and writer C.B. Cebulski compliments him with a serious script about this minor X-Men character. Emma Frost makes a cameo appearance, being the stern, no nonsense Emma of old. Also, the tribute to Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men is an appreciated moment in the story, and one that tells a lot about Shan’s character.

Some quotes from the issue:

“You’ll blow it big time if you die on me Drake. Make the call.” – Opal

“I dated Cannonball!” – Boom-Boom

“FaceSpace! It’s a website where you connect with your friends, and you make new friends… but you know, without having to actually talk to anyone.” – Boom-Boom

The final word:

Make no mistake, I had a blast reading this issue as it had a great twist and made me laugh. It’s enjoyable to read about characters who don’t necessarily get the spotlight, as Iceman wasn’t featured much in the events of Messiah Complex or Divided We Stand, and both Boom-Boom and Karma have never been major players of the X-Men. With all the other X-Books in publication, X-Men Manifest Destiny #1 shouldn’t be overlooked.

It’s a great time to be an X-Men fan.

5/5 stars

X-Men Manifest Destiny #1