BIOGRAPHY - Page 7
Afterwards, Bobby returned to living with his parents for several months. During this brief retirement, Iceman was recruited by the living starship Prosh (who had once served as X-Factor's sentient headquarters "Ship") along with Phoenix, Mystique, Juggernaut and Toad, as one of the mutant Cataclysm Keys. Through the Celestial technology that made up his core, Prosh sent the five of them on a journey through time, inhabiting their own past and future selves in an effort to understand the destiny of the mutant race. This adventure revealed for the first time that Iceman was an Omega-Level mutant possessing almost unlimited potential. Prosh showed him how to manipulate his abilities as a being of pure moisture, becoming one with any surrounding source of water or vapor. Bobby’s newfound power made him a key figure in their battle with the mysterious Stranger. [X-Men Forever (1st series) #1-6]
Iceman returned to the X-Men soon afterwards, becoming a member of the X-Men’s “away team” along with Archangel and Nightcrawler. They operated out of Worthington Industries in New York City as well as the mansion, and frequently worked on recruitment drives and missions of international mutant concern. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #395] When the opportunity came to investigate the mutant brothel known as the X-Ranch, Iceman generously volunteered to “infiltrate” the establishment. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #399]
It was not long after this that Bobby received an anonymous e-mail with a picture of his old girlfriend Opal Tanaka holding a fair-haired baby boy. Suspecting that this child might be his son, Bobby tracked Opal to Hong Kong, where she was working at Winterbrand Technologies and demanded to know if she had been hiding a child from him. Opal admitted that she had a son named Robert Tanaka, who was suffering from a rare genetic disorder. Her employer, Alain Weiss, confessed to sending the e-mail because he believed Bobby’s genes might hold the key to developing a cure for the boy. The genetic cultivation process Winterbrand planned would take time, however, and require Bobby to live near their Hong Kong facility for at least a year to ensure his cryodermic tissue remained readily available to them.
While considering his options, Iceman attempted to consult with the Beast, only to have the connection shut down in mid-call. Weiss revealed his true colors, unleashing a squad of cybernetically enhanced children called the “Augmen” to capture Iceman. Iceman managed to elude them and found an unlikely ally in a local mystic hero called Foe-Dog. Together, they drove the Augmen off and finally learned the truth from Opal. Winterbrand was holding her son hostage and had used him to lure Iceman to Hong Kong. Winterbrand turned out to be a subsidiary of John Sublime and his U-Men movement. They had developed a process to augment normal humans using mutant DNA in conjunction but the process was far from perfect and unstable in adults. So they used the process on children instead, creating the grotesque Augmen. Bobby’s organic ice would have been uniquely beneficial as a super-conductor for some of Winterbrand’s most profitable experiments, including the process used on the Augmen. Together, Iceman and Foe-Dog developed a plan to stop Winterbrand's experimentation. Bobby surrendered himself to Weiss to throw them off-guard while Foe-Dog successfully rescued Opal’s child. One little Robert was safe, Iceman struck back against the Augmen and Weiss. Weiss had augmented himself, despite the instability of the process, but was easily bested by Iceman in combat.
Bobby had decided to leave the X-Men and start a new life with Robert and Opal in Hong Kong but she left before he could tell her. She left him a video message explaining that her son Robert was not his and that she had gotten pregnant after a brief affair with a co-worker shortly after they split up. She revealed that Weiss had forced her to lie to him as part of his schemes. Opal fled Hong Kong, believing Bobby would never want to see her again after this betrayal. However, as he watched the video, Bobby quietly remarked to himself that he knew Robert wasn’t his and would have stayed with them all the same. [Iceman (2nd series) #1-4]
Back among the X-Men, Bobby seemed more comfortable pushing the limits of his powers, possibly because of his experiences with Prosh and the Stranger. Still, this didn’t help him when the team faced Black Tom Cassidy, whose secondary mutation had transformed him into a plant-like creature that fed on life energies. While draining several of the X-Men, he rammed one of his thorny tendrils through Iceman’s chest when Bobby tried to disrupt the flow of water to his roots. Hurting from the fresh wound, Bobby still managed to distract Black Tom long enough for his teammates to execute another plan and defeat him. Back at the mansion, Iceman was examined by the new school nurse, Annie Ghazikhanian. She was surprised to see that the wound had been sealed shut by ice. She patched Bobby up as best she could given his mutation's reaction to the wound and ordered him to come in to have it looked at again in a few days to see how it was healing. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #410-413]
Nobody realized it at the time, but this was evidently an early sign of Iceman undergoing a secondary mutation of his own. When he repeatedly tried to evade his regular medical check-ups, Nurse Annie recognized that something odd was going on with him and pressured him to show her the wound. Bobby made her promise not to tell anyone and showed her that parts of his chest had transformed into ice. No matter how hard he tried, he was unable to change these areas back to flesh and blood. Iceman could not help but wonder if he would entirely turn into ice on a permanent basis. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #415]
Perhaps it was this fear that caused Bobby to develop a more caustic attitude and nastier sense of humor than normal. He was far from welcoming to some of the newer additions to the X-Men like Stacy X, Juggernaut and Northstar. He was uncharacteristically demeaning and nasty on occasion, questioning their status as team members since they hadn’t been around as long as he had. Iceman even offended Nightcrawler by claiming that only the original five, and no one else, had the right to call themselves X-Men. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #416-420]
Bobby was further frustrated when Havok and Polaris announced their imminent wedding, as he had carried a torch for Lorna for quite some time despite previous claims that he had accepted their relationship. In his frustration he turned to Annie, who had problems with the wedding too, as she was secretly in love with Havok. Annie surprised him when she accused him of being a racist. She pointed out that he was comfortable as a mutant who could pass as human when needed, but was worried about becoming a fully obvious or "24/7" mutant or a “mere” human. His secondary mutation kicking in meant that Iceman was in danger of losing his ability to "pass" as human when it suited him. Shocked by the truth of her words, Bobby fully opened up about his fears, that as a man fully made of ice he could never feel the warmth of a physical relationship again. Touched, Annie allowed him to kiss her. When the time came for Polaris and Havok to wed, Alex called off the wedding because he realized that he was in love with Annie. Due to the humiliation and the recent tragedies she'd suffered, Polaris suffered a psychotic break and tried to kill Annie. During the melee, Iceman attempted to get through to Lorna by telling her that he was still in love with her. Polaris not only displayed no interest, she mocked bobby for carrying a torch for her for so long. After Lorna was subdued, Annie quickly dumped Bobby for Havok. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #421, 425-426]
Naturally, Iceman held a grudge against Alex. From his point of view, Annie was the second woman that Havok had “stolen away” from him. A few days later, when his powers temporarily flared up and spun out of control, Iceman was no longer able to conceal his secondary mutation from the other X-Men. Some were angry at him for keeping such important information from the team, while others understood his need for privacy and offered their support. During an encounter with Nightcrawler’s estranged father Azazel and his Neyaphem followers, Iceman was shattered completely while in his ice form, reduced to little more than a head. After the initial shock wore off, he was able to reconstruct his body by forcibly drawing the water out of the Neyaphem called Ginniyeh. Bobby was now permanently composed of ice and could no longer revert to human at all. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #429, 433-434]