Astonishing Iceman #5

Issue Date: 
February 2024
Story Title: 
Out Cold, part five

Steve Orlando (writer), Vincenzo Carratu (artist), Java Tartaglia (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Travis Lanham (letterer), Tom Muller & Jay Bowen (designers), Jesus Saiz (cover artists), Jay Bowen (production), Drew Baumgartner (assistant editor), Mark Basso (editor), Jordan D. White (editor), C.B. Cebulski (editor-in-chief)

Iceman created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby

Brief Description: 

An hour ago, Mister Clean invaded Iceman's ice-palace in Antarctica, and seriously injured Iceman's boyfriend, Romeo. Now, Iceman arrives to find his foe gloating over his success, and reveals that he found Iceman's location thanks to one of the Y-Men that Iceman encountered earlier. Iceman and Mister Clean battle, while Agent Pequod of Orchis monitors the battle from the Bloom. Romeo recovers and when Mister Clean attacks Iceman, Romeo is able to battle Mister Clean, disorientating him with his empathic powers, until Iceman forces Romeo to get to safety by opening up the ice beneath his feet, sending him down into the depths below. Iceman then causes the ice-palace to collapse. He finds Mister Clean among the rubble, but despite his injuries, Clean is still determined to destroy Iceman. He literally tears himself apart in an attempt to cause a massive explosion. Iceman isn't too worried though, and lets the explosion occur, in an attempt to defeat Mister Clean once and for all. The entire area melts away, and Mister Clean's cyborg remains fall into the icy waters, where Romeo has escaped in a small ship, finding himself for some reason unable to use his powers to bring Iceman back to life. Deemed a failure by Orchis officials, Agent Pequod is demoted to janitorial duties. Some time later, Romeo is in Lotkill, where he finds a message on a mirror from Bobby, telling Romeo that he will see him soon.

Full Summary: 

(One hour ago)

Mister Clean arrived at Iceman's ice-palace in Antarctica, and used a flame-thrower to quickly melt his way through the ice-golem Clyde who was guarding the palace. Romeo attacked Mister Clean, battling him in physical combat, before Mister Clean fought back and knocked Romeo out, leaving him a bloody mess on the ice-covered floor of the ice palace.


'Know your real problem, Drake? A warm heart. Caring weakens you – literally. You blast out to save the world...but leave a drone behind to guard your house. Clyde, was it? Is that what Romeo called him? Hard to say – he didn't last long. But Romeo? Guy had some pep – really put fire into his punches. And more. I've gutted, tanned and dried plenty of Inhuman freaks. But none like him – ever take a hit that shoots fear right up your spine? Ever had an empath clip you with a knee that drives you made with anguish? It's a lot – but not enough'.

Mister Clean stands up and steps down towards Bobby Drake a.k.a. Iceman: 'Now, here you are – weakened. From your drones, from your big New York rescue. Weakened, kid. Weakened – and ripe for a home invasion. You had a solid run, Iceman. And you're tough. Orchis never would've caught you without me' Mister Clean declares, grinning. Bobby tells Mister Clean that Romeo is not a mutant, and asks him to let Romeo go. 'No can do. He's right where he's useful – at my boot' Clean grins, pointing out that caring has a price. 'Like, say, me finding you. You got that warm heart, son...even for trash like the Y-Men. That's right. Lojack? One of mine. A plant. He tagged you – traced you back home. If you hadn't helped him... well, I'd still be hunting your den. Now? Here I am' Mister Clean reveals.

'So what? You broke into my house – you can get buried under it too' Iceman exclaims. 'You sure? Back in L.A., I let you get confident. Held back the new me until I found your hideaway...but I've been modded, son' Mister Clean boasts, revealing that he had himself rebuilt from the inside out to kill Iceman – and all on Orchis' dime. 'You muties love calling yourselves gods – told the whole world in fact. But you ain't. And I'm happy to prove it' Mister Clean declares. Suddenly, Romeo stirs, and warns Bobby that Mister clean can kill him. 'I'd listen, Iceman. But that's not your thing, is it? You'd rather joke. A class clown's still just a clown' Mister Clean declares as he lunges towards Iceman.

Bobby counters the attack by asking 'Does this feel like a joke?' as he unleashes a surge of ice that rises up and traps Mister Clean in the air. 'Those ears really are vestigial...' Mister Clean grins as bursts of fire are emitted from a device on his back, which melts the ice and enables Mister Clean to drop to the ground. 'I told you! I'm custom made to kill Iceman!' Mister Clean boasts, revealing that he has heat barbs in his spine, and wears insulated subdermal Kevlar. 'A heart as deadly as the sun. All that...and one hell of a hot poker. Solar plasma caged in a nice tight gravity shell' Mister Clean calls out as a fiery baton-like device extends down the side of his arm, and he raises it as he leaps towards Iceman again.

'Old ideas, dude! You think you're the first to try smoking me?' Iceman asks as he prepares to defend himself, only the solar plasma strikes him, and he screams. 'First to do it right' Mister Clean retorts as he strikes again, causing Bobby to scream once more.

Meanwhile, aboard the Bloom, the headquarters of Orchis, floating in Earth's orbit: 'Report, tech ops! I'm starved for news!' Agent Woodrow Pequod snaps as he paces about the control room where several Orchis agents monitor the situation with Iceman. One of them apologizes to Agent Pequod and explains that Antarctica has three south poles, and that one of them is magnetic – and when you add in the weather, most scanning is even more useless than teleporters. The operative adds thate data from Clean's heart module is scarce, but confirms that he is still alive. Hands behind his back, Pequod announces that Clean is his nuclear option. 'If he fails...I'll see you in the janitorial corps'. Pequod then tells the agents to keep their chins up, as Clean's last report was positive, and that he was moving in on foot, ready for the kill.

Back in Antarctica, 'Hell, Bob! You're still holding back! You could pull this place down with a wink – but that might hurt your man!' Mister Clean exclaims. Bobby tries to hold his enemy back, but the plasma baton moves closer to Bobby's face, as Mister Clean tells him that he likes an audience: 'Especially when I'm popping a mutie's head like a grape!' Mister Clean declares. Romeo then calls out to Clean, and uses his powers to attempt to manipulate Clean's emotions. 'Get out of my brain, freak! You can't do a damn thing -' Clean begins, glancing backwards, only for Iceman to create a large ice-spike which forms out of the wall, and shoves Mister Clean backwards across the room. 'He can break out focus. And give me time to really drive the point home' says Bobby, who then makes his way over to Romeo, who is getting to his feet.

'We've got to get you out of here. The escape hatch -' Bobby begins, but Romeo tells him that if he can stand, he can fight. 'Clean blew off your arm and your leg – he won't get the rest' Romeo remarks. Bobby begins to reform his arm and leg. 'What, these? I barely noticed. I'm fine, Romeo. Get to safety. Limbs are a dime a dozen – you aren't' Bobby responds. Mister Clean gathers himself and grins: 'Wow. That was really a moment. Who knew two sacks of gene trash could feel so much?' he asks cruelly. Bobby turns to him and retorts 'Gene trash? Look at yourself! You're jacked up, dude. If I were you, I wouldn't be boasting about my humanity!' Mister Clean grins some more: 'Nice try, Bob. But my DNA still reads clean. The software's the same. And the hardware? IT'S KILLER!' Mister Clean shouts as he releases some sort of shockwave that washes across Bobby, and distorts his form.

'You bastard!' Romeo shouts as he lunges at Mister Clean, smacking him hard and causing the villain to fall backwards, Romeo's emotional manipulation abilities seemingly causing some confusion in Mister Clean, who drops to his knees, clutching his head. 'Damn, Romeo...that's a hell of a left' Bobby smiles. Romeo reveals that Clean has been pumped full of disgrace, and admits that it took a lot out of him, and that it will not distract Clean for long. 'Good point. About that escape hatch...' Bobby begins, but Romeo turns back to Bobby and tells him no, and reminds him that he needs an anchor. 'If Clean destroys you and I'm not here - ' Romeo begins, to which Bobby interrupts him and points out that he will have to re-form himself solo, and assures Romeo that he has been practicing. 'Guess this is make or break, huh?' he adds. Suddenly, a hold forms in the ice beneath Romeo's feet: 'What – no, wait!' Romeo calls out, before he falls through the hole. 'Safety's calling, Romeo. Pick up the phone' Bobby responds. 'Bobby!' Romeo screams as he slides down through the escape hatch.

Mister Clean turns to Iceman and and tells him that it's just the two of them now. 'Bold move' he adds. 'Totally! You had the right idea. What'd you say I could do again? That's right... “bring the house down”!' Iceman exclaims, quoting his enemy as he indeed causes the ice-palace to collapse in on itself in spectacular display. In the process, Iceman's body is broken into several pieces. He calls out to Clean: 'Don't tell Romeo...but pulling back together's way harder without him' Iceman admits as he reforms his body, telling Clean that it is their secret. 'How're you doing over there, anyway?' he asks, but gets no response. 'Worse than me, looks like? How's that feel? Sort of like when I got here. To my home. To the last bits of a normal life I've got left... under siege'. Bobby walks across the ground and tells Clean that this is called helpless, and now his enemy can relate. 'That's funny – but it's no joke. You came for my life. If you knew me at all... you'd know better' Iceman adds.

'I'm the what, “class clown”? They say it, all of them – not me. Say it like that's a bad thing. But at the end of the day...clowns terrify people, Clean' Bobby exclaims, coming to a stop as he finds Mister Clean, trapped between several large, jagged blocks of ice. 'This clown sure did a number on you. Not that you gave me other options' Bobby declares as he stands over Clean. 'you want options? Here's one. Oblivion. For the both of us' Clean snarls at Iceman, part of his googles broken and blood streaming down his face. 'Right. You're in pieces, dude. You really think you can scare me?' Bobby scowls. Mister Clean grins and reveals that his nerves are modded, meaning he doesn't feel pain or go into shock. He admits that wounds sow him down, but that he can run his body until it doesn't run any more. 'You'd tear yourself apart breaking free!' Bobby exclaims. 'Bears do it all the time. I'll admit. You got me, son – that's a real accomplishment' Mister Clean announces as he starts to sever his own body as he torso disconnects from his legs, and flames rise up around him as he shouts 'So let me just tear myself apart....and show you what you've won'.

Bobby looks on, shocked, as Clean's severed body shuffles forward, and the villain boasts that wounds don't hurt him, even though they're real – and he is wounded catastrophically. Clean tells Iceman to take a good look, and reveals that his systems run on a plasma reactor, which has just been ruptured. Green liquid seeps around Mister Clean, who announces that it is melting down – and that this is the twist: 'I planned on winning' he boasts, before asking what good a mutant-free world is if you're too dead to enjoy it. 'But nuking you on my way out...that's a hell of a deal. See, at the Gala...Orchis didn't go big enough. My heart'll blow like a mini-sun. Fast, hot and all-encompassing. It'll be death in every direction. Just biblical heat for miles around. Nowhere for your mind to escape to!' the deranged Mister Clean exclaims. He then tells Iceman that it will be instant, complete sublimination, and while he will be destroyed, too, he won't feel a thing. 'We'll be eye to eye... burning into extinction. That's a gift, son'.

Bobby looks shocked, before he simply looks annoyed, and asks 'You think that bothers me?' Clean crawls closer to Bobby and shouts 'Damn well should, gene joke! Don't you get it!? We're both going up like Roman candles!' Clean then grabs Bobby by his ankle, and Bobby replies 'I get it. You see me trying to run?' to which Clean tells him 'Of course not, mutie – that's called giving up!' But Bobby tells Clean that that is not the case: 'Romeo saved me – now I'm returning the favor' Mister Clean continues to cling to Bobby, as Bobby states that he almost died at the Gala, he was so close, but that he needs to re-form on his own, needs to beat this fear. 'But if I can't? If this is it? You're coming with me. No mutant, no Inhuman, no one different anywhere...will have to worry about you again. And honestly? That's pretty cool'. A moment later, Mister Clean screams as the plasma core erupts, spreading a furiously powerful heat sphere in its wake.

Aboard the Bloom, all of the monitors in the control room go blank. 'What is that? I don't like blank monitors, people!' Pequod snaps at the Orchis agents. 'No one does, Agent Pequod. But if Clean's data flow is is he' one of the agents responds. 'And Iceman?' Pequod asks. The agent tells him that there is nothing to do but wait. Wait and see where – and if – he shows his face.

As the ice-palace melts, the fiery blaze washes over Bobby Drake, until nothing of him remains. The plasma explosion eventually subsides, leaving a massive crater in the ice where the ice-palace once stood. When the smoke subsides, the remains of Mister Clean burn through the ice, and plummet into the icy waters below. A strange BLIP signal can be heard, and a ship can be seen putting its way through the waters. Inside the ship is Romeo. 'It worked. The escape hatch, the Bluebird all worked. So listen, I know you're out there. Come celebrate. Come me. Come home to me, Bobby' Romeo calls out as he presses his hand to the glass of the Bluebird, looking out into the icy waters around him. Romeo sighs and covers his face. 'Nothing' he utters, before noticing an icy residue on the glass. He uses a finger to draw a heart in the ice. 'Nothing...for now' Romeo tells himself.

Back aboard the Bloom, Agent Pequod sits by himself in a corridor and stares at the janitorial bucket placed before him.


Days later, in Lotkill, New York. A shirtless Romeo stands next to a window in an apartment, holding a cup of coffee, he notices the frost on the window and decides that it is a little early for a frost. 'Or maybe not' he then thinks as he walks past someone sleeping in the bed, he enters the bathroom, where he gasps: 'Maybe it's right on time!' Romeo utters as he sees the bathroom mirror glazed with frost. Romeo smiles as he reads the message in the mirror:

See you soon! - Bobby


Characters Involved: 




Agent Pequod (Orchis)

Mister Clean


Orchis agents


Unidentified man


(in memory)


Captain America/Aaron Fischer

Debrider, Jump Scare, Lightshow, Lojack, Miss Maillard (all Y-Men)


Story Notes: 

Iceman encountered Lojack and the other Y-Men in Astonishing Iceman #3.

This issue includes a memo from Director Devo to Dr. Stasis concerning Iceman.

This issue also includes a digital briefing from the ops department to Director Devo, in the absence of a lead agent, concerning the supposed sightings of Iceman since the incident in Antarctica.

Romeo being in an apartment in Lotkill is no coincidence, considering it is where the Scarlet Witch currently resides in Scarlet Witch (3rd series), also written by Steve Orlando.

Written By: