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Ice [in tears]: I come from very bad people… and one good man. And I killed him. I forgot that. But now… I remember.
Synopsis "The Cold Truth"
Previously: The JLI have been forced into reforming by their villainous ex-leader Maxwell Lord. They have discovered a series of robotics laboratories while investigating Max’s plans and have split into two groups to investigate them. Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, and Booster Gold are investigating a laboratory in Chicago while Fire, Ice, and Rocket Red investigate a facility in China. Fire and co. find that the Chinese laboratory is guarded by the delusional Metal Men and they have to defend themselves. Their onslaught it so great that it causes Ice to transform into something new.
Ice Goddess Tora’s body is covered with ice and her skin has turned blue. She is subconsciously freezing the environment around her and either cannot or will not speak. Fire tries to talk to her, but the heat from her flames causes Tora to recoil. She is still enraged from having defeated the Metal Men and lashes out at her friend. Fire is desperate to make Tora stop – she doesn’t want to hurt her, but neither will she let herself be killed. Tora’s transformation restores memories that she had long repressed about her father and her true family.
Tora’s people had been a clan of Norwegian Gypsies called the Is Bygd who lived outside of Lillehammer, Norway. She had been born with the power to create cold and ice, but her father Marius told her to suppress and hide her abilities. He was the son of the clan’s leader and knew that Tora’s powers marked her as the reincarnation of an Ice Goddess, a “Chosen One” for the Is Bygd. He feared that the Clan’s leader (Tora’s grandfather) would try to use her to further his own petty criminal schemes.
Tora’s powers became more evident as she aged so Marcus escaped with his family to Germany. The clan eventually caught up with Tora and Marius when she was thirteen and living in Munich. Her powers surged killed those who were trying to abduct her, but her father was also caught in the icestorm. The last thing he said to her was “Always be careful. Be quiet. Be… be calm. ” The memory of his words shocks Tora into regaining control of her powers and senses. Her transformation dissolves and she collapses to the ground overwhelmed by the emotions brought on by fighting her best friend and repressed memory of how she accidentally killed her own father.
In Chicago, the other team have finished investigating the dormant OMAC lab when Magog appears and attacks Captain Atom. The horned warrior claims that he is on a mission to kill the Captain.
Ice’s new origin was… okay. Everything negative about it can probably be summed up by this quote from B Kole @ Comics Vine:
The big reveal of Tora’s back story is now, instead of taking one of the very few, nice, slightly whimsical and pleasant characters in DC, who is just a pleasure to read under most writers, they’ve turned her into what can only be described as a 90′s Parody Revamp.
However, what I did find interesting was the number of reviewers who only knew the general themes of the character (e.g. passive Ice Goddess) so either didn’t care or didn’t know enough care about her original origin to be bother by the change. Most, like Grey @ Inside Pulse, were honest enough to point this out. And Grey pointed out that to most people Ice is something of a blank slate:
You know what experience I’ve had with Tora in the last ten years? I Can’t Believe It’s Not The Justice League, the arc of Birds of Prey where she came back, her appearances in Green Lantern Corps, and this. She’s tabula rasa to me, and while I safely assume that there are longer term JLA/JLI/JLE fans that have much more vested an interest in the well being of her character, and her ability to remain in line with her classic characterization, I lack that. And thus I can enjoy this book for what it is and not go on my usual “This isn’t right! Retcon!” warpath, as….I got nada for a change.
It’s an interesting approach and that quote reminds me of something that Judd Winick said in at interview at CBR:
For Fire and Ice, they did not interest me in such a grand way before we started. But as we got into it, it was about finding the voices of these characters. Over the years, Fire has been developed and Ice has been underdeveloped. She died. She came back and what not. But who is Ice? Who is Tora? Now Fire and Ice are two of my favorite characters, and I look forward to the direction that we’re taking them.
What really surprised me was that I wasn’t too bothered by the change either.
Secret Origins #33 is a forgettable origin – the type that exists just because a character has to have an origin – and quite frankly there is little lost with it being over written by this new origin. The story arc that does causes more problems is Dan Vado’s 1994 arc where the League revisit Tora’s people and we explicitly see the Ice People’s kingdom and meet Tora’s family. But again, it’s a forgettable story and one I’m personally not so sorry to see vanish from the canon.
There is still details about Ice’s new origin that haven’t been fleshed out. Just what was the prophesy that foretold of an Ice Goddess. Was she just an incarnation of an older, earlier divinity or is she a separate meta-human in her own right. It was Ice’s status as a goddess that allowed her to be resurrected. So there is a still a lot of room in there to accommodate both origins, e.g. she’s born as a mortal avatar of a true ice goddess, loses her mortal family, and is then inducted into the Ice People with no memory knowledge of her true origins. Well that’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.
I liked Greg@CBR‘s observation that the bi-weekly schedule gives Winick the room to go on of these tangents without wrecking the overall pace or momentum of the book. But as he says,
There’s still nothing else on the Metal Men that were defeated at the end of the previous issue, or even the mission that Fire, Ice, and Rocket Red were on. (Seriously, what happened? It’s like everything else just wandered away for this issue.)
What fell flat for me was some of the “acting” in the book – the carrying of emotion and characterisation by the art+script. Ice’s big “I forgot that.” quote fell flat. This is a sweet, beloved character, but she just seems flat on the page. As much as I love Maguire’s cover – just because it’s Kevin Maguire drawing a JLA character – I do like Chiang’s cover with the Bride of Frankenstein style hair.
The treatment of the Romani = Thieves part did feel like those racial stereotypes that writers used in the 1970s when they were earnestly trying to create diverse characters. I certainly don’t think any of the people associated with this comic are deliberately trying to be racist, but it is at best an over done cliché.
|Reviews Portal||Comic Book Resources||Greg McElthatton||3/5|
|Community Reviews||Comics Vine User Reviews||Av. of 3 reviews||3.33/5|
|Community Reviews||iFanboy||470 Pulls||4/5|
|Reviews Blog||Comic Book Bin||Herve St-Louis||7.5/10|
|Reviews Blog||Comics Per Day Reviews||Timbotron||Fair|
|Reviews Blog||Inside Pulse||Grey Scherl||8/10|
|Character Site||Captain's Justice League Homepage||Jason Kirk||2.5/5|
Page 1 - The name of this clan is “Is Bygd” – “Is” meaning ice and “bygd” meaning village or built in Norwegian – distinction on Bygd as village/built is interesting as it implies a fixed place. They are identified as a Romani people, the Romanifolket. Putting to one-side the issues about changing Tora’s origin, the part of thisissue that I am most uneasy about is the portrayal of Romani as thieves and con-artists. Marcus, his wife and children are shown to be good people, but the rest of the Is Bygd are little more than a criminal gang.
The original Romani people left India in the medieval period and migrated to Eastern Europe and its neighbouring lands. They have traditionally remained a nomadic or isolated people as persecution and hatred has kept them at the edges of settled society (whatever their own intentions may have been). The Romani in Norway, in common with many minority groups around the world, have faced a long campaign of State oppression that has included forced removal of children from families, sterilisation, and laws deliberately targeted at their way of life. In 1998 the Norwegian government officially apologised to the Romanifolkst for their historical treatment.
On Lillihammer the general rule on comic book depictions of European towns applies – the comic shows an Ye Olde Worlde tourist version of the town (circa 18-19th century) when in reality the town is actually nice and modern. Lillihammer is probably most famous for staging the 1994 Winter Olympics (the one with the Harding/Kerrigan fuss).
Page 2 – Tora’s mother’s hair colour changes between dark (page one), light (page two), and dark again (page three).
Page 3 – The name Olafsdotter means Olaf’s Daughter and in Norwegian naming this would literally mean that Tora’s father was called Olaf. However, here Tora’s father and mother are given the names Marcus and Elsa and we are told they are the Olafsdotter family.
Page 5 - Rocket Red is using the old-fashioned Fahrenheit system which is odd as Russia adopted the metric system in the 1920s when the Soviet Union was established. The temperatures 2, -30, and -60 degrees Fahrenheit translate as -17, -34, and -50 degrees Celsius. Red claims that the lower temperature (-60F / -50C) is where his suit will start to have problems. Which would be a gaff as the temperature in Siberia – where the Rocket Red Brigade have been shown training – gets down to those levels each winter. I really think the Russian engineers would have given the armour a wider operational range unless this is just a limitation of Gavril’s home-made armour.
Page 16 - The historical problem with claiming that the “Ice People” in Tora’s origin are Romani people is the time frame. On this page her grandfather claims that they have awaited the return of the Ice Goddess for 700 years (early 14th century), but the Romani didn’t start arriving in Norway until the mid-16th century. Tora’s Norse derived name (Tora comes from Thor), the Ice/Arctic theme, and the dating problem makes me wonder if the is Bygd are an ethnically Norwegian or even Sami group that has become confused with the Romani.
At another point Tora’s grandfather calls their family regal and he certainly sees himself as a King like figure. The implication here is the Tora is a Gypsy Princess.
Page 19 - Another colouring error – earlier in the story Marius is shown with blue eyes, but here he has brown eyes. His last words to Tora are interesting. She is obviously capable of tremendous fury and power yet it’s her father’s final words that have informed her entire adult persona. There is still a huge gap between the 13-year-old Tora on the run in Germany and the young woman who joined the Global Guardians. Also, while her father may have died in that accident, her mother and younger sister were absence and one presumes they are still alive. As a minor note Tora’s brother Ewald from the 1990s Justice League America arc isn’t shown with this family.