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Presenting...the Just-Ice League!

Presenting...the Just-Ice League!

By Alex Jaffe Tuesday, January 4th, 2022

It's pretty chilly out there right now, which made us wonder...can you assemble a DC team made entirely of cold-themed superheroes?

Last month, ’Tis the Season To Be Freezin’ showcased some of the biggest names in the DC Universe’s cooler, from Captain Cold to Mister Freeze. But one thing we learned from this sampling of DC’s iciest characters is that the majority are of the villainous persuasion, which got us wondering…with DC’s entire history, could you assemble a team of entirely cold-themed heroes? We shoveled through the snow and assembled a team capable of cooling down even the hottest of situations. This winter, we present you with the only team that can fight global warming. Let’s call them the “Just-Ice League.”


Polar Boy

Civilian Name: Brek Bannin
First Appearance: Adventure Comics #306, 1963

DC’s first ice-themed superhero technically won’t be born for another thousand years. Brek Bannin, a Legion of Super-Heroes candidate, was born on the superhot planet Tharr. Tharrians adapted to their environment by developing the ability to absorb heat and channel it as cold, essentially making them into a race of air conditioners. Polar Boy was rejected for Legion membership but would create a new legacy of his own—by forming the Legion of Substitute Heroes, a society of misfit heroes not up to the United Planets-sanctioned Legion’s lofty standards. Polar Boy may be DC’s first ice-making hero, but his true place in history is establishing that the only thing required to be a hero is the will to be one.


Winter Wonderlad

Civilian Name: Billy Gander
First Appearance: Showcase #65, 1966

The second DC hero with ice powers only ever made one appearance, as a student of Dean Egghead’s Academy for Super Heroes—a pointed parody of another school for mutants in other comic book titles. Short on faculty, Dean Egghead appealed to more famous hero teams to help educate his charges. Unfortunately, only the band of rejects we know as the Inferior Five answered the call. Among Dean Egghead’s students were Basilisk, the Ape, Icarus, Levitation Lass and finally Winter Wonderlad—a boy with the power to encase himself in solid ice. After the Inferior Five’s brief professorial tenure, the Egghead Academy students were never seen again, as the Five went on to star in a series of their own.


Celsius

Civilian Name: Arani Desai
First Appearance: Showcase #94, 1977

When writing this list, we decided to omit characters where ice powers were just a subset of a hero’s larger repertoire. Heroes like Tempest, who can create ice as part of his aquakinesis, or Rainmaker, whose weather manipulation includes snowstorms, or Superman, whose ice breath is one of his many Kryptonian birthrights, or even Zatanna, who can create ice as easily as saying “eci,” just wouldn’t make the cut. That’s not what the Just-Ice League is about. But we decided to make an exception for Celsius of the Doom Patrol, who has the power to manipulate temperature—either all the way up, or all the way down. First, we appreciate that kind of focus. But second, because she really needs somebody to cut her a break. Celsius first showed up after the death of the Chief, insisting she was Niles Caulder’s widow. The team doubted this story, as Niles had never mentioned her before. And when Niles returned to life, even he denied knowing Celsius, all the way up to her funeral. He only later admitted that he had in fact married Celsius but had been drugging her the entire time for research. Yikes. Celsius may have ice powers, but it’s the Chief who’s really the cold one here.


Icemaiden, aka Glacier

Civilian Name: Sigrid Nansen
First Appearance: Super Friends #9, 1977

1977 gives the DC Universe its first recurring, specifically ice-themed superhero in the modern era…in a Super Friends animated series comic book tie-in. She officially joined the Super Friends for only one issue, until she was brought back nine years later in Infinity Inc. #32, as Norway’s representative in the Global Guardians. But over time, Icemaiden was overshadowed by her more effective successor, Ice (whom we’ll get to in just a minute). Since Ice’s debut, Sigrid has been essentially relegated to the role of her replacement’s understudy, emerging whenever the new Ice was temporarily dead or otherwise engaged. But in this year’s ’Tis the Season to be Freezin’, the newly formed JLQ helps Sigrid forge a new path forward, with a new identity. Sigrid Nansen is Icemaiden no longer…call her Glacier.


Morozko

Civilian Name: Igor Medvienko
First Appearance: Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #70, 1987

In the waning years of the Cold War, Soyuz—a word which, in Russian, means “Alliance”—was the Soviet Union’s premiere team of adolescent heroes, the Russian equivalent to the Teen Titans. Every member of the team wore identical black costumes with a big red star on their chests, but each had different abilities. There was Perun, who could generate electricity. Rusalka, with hydrokinesis. Vikhor, who could manipulate the air. Firebird, who could use telepathy and telekinesis. And then there was Morozko, named for a Slavic god of snow, who could generate cold by absorbing heat, much like Polar Boy. Firebird’s uncle Mikhail, aka Pozhar, was the Soviet answer to Firestorm, and Soyuz could be counted on to come to his aid when needed.


Ice

Civilian Name: Tora Olafsdotter
First Appearance: Justice League International #12, 1988

Originally introduced as Icemaiden, Tora Olafsdotter would be the ice-themed hero to join the Justice League International along with her Brazilian ride-or-die partner for life, Fire. Why were there two Icemaidens? The answer is simple: JLI writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis just accidentally gave Icemaiden a different civilian identity when they introduced her, not knowing at the time that she had already been introduced in Infinity Inc. as Sigrid Nansen. So Giffen and DeMatteis renamed their Icemaiden “Ice,” establishing her as a separate character. Depending on who you ask, Tora Olafsdotter is either the magical princess of a lost Nordic tribe, or a metahuman cast out from her people for her unnatural abilities. Either way, Ice’s wholesome, cheerful attitude provided a memorable counterbalance to Fire’s more volatile personality, their partnership contributing much of the charm to the Justice League International era.


Tundra

Civilian Name: Unknown
First Appearance: Justice League Quarterly #17, 1994

Did you know that the character Willoughby Kipling was created for Doom Patrol because the creative team couldn’t use John Constantine? And that, later, the character Ambrose Bierce was created for Stanley and His Monster, because that creative team couldn’t use John Constantine OR Willoughby Kipling? Anyway, Tundra is kind of like that. Not much is known about her, but she did fill the vacancy left in the Global Guardians for an ice-themed hero, representing post-Soviet Russia. She was last seen in a big Wonder Woman storyline by Phil Jimenez which brought practically every female DC hero together, no matter how obscure, in an all-out war against Circe, but nobody’s seen her in twenty years.


Snow Owl

Civilian Name: Unknown
First Appearance: Artemis: Requiem #3, 1996

Our third Russian hero with ice powers. You’d think it was cold up there or something. Snow Owl is an extremely powerful hero who can freeze the molecules of the air itself, creating ice constructs or stopping enemies in place. He’s only ever appeared once, as part of a fanatical team of demon hunters who called themselves the Hellenders. In another world, they could have had an extremely popular spin-off series that ran through the nineties for a hundred issues with about forty variant covers drawn by Jim Lee. Honestly, it’s not too late.


Frostbite

Civilian Name: Unknown
First Appearance: Young Heroes in Love #1, 1997

The experimental ’90s series Young Heroes in Love was an attempt to synthesize the messy drama of classic romance comics with…the messy drama of superhero comics. Frostbite, a Snow Elf, was the “Young Heroes” team’s resident ice-wielder but was also pretty groundbreaking in another way: he was one of DC’s first leading bisexual characters, forming a relationship with fellow team member George Sloan, aka Off-Ramp, later in the series. Although  he hasn’t really been seen much since the series’ cancelation, a DC One Million tie-in shows us that thanks to his elf heritage, Frostbite is still around 83,000 years from now.


Comet

Civilian Name: Andrew Jones; Andrea Martinez
First Appearance: Supergirl #14, 1997

Ah, man. Yeah, Comet had ice powers at one point, so I guess we have to explain this. Okay. Buckle up. Before Crisis on Infinite Earths, Comet the Super-Horse was best known as Supergirl’s trusty flying steed. In fact, Comet was a centaur from ancient Greece named Biron, who was completely transformed into a horse after he was duped by Circe. Biron was gifted flight and immortality as consolation. Later, while flying through space, Biron was trapped in the Sagittarius constellation, but was freed by Supergirl’s passing rocket to Earth, binding their fates together. As Supergirl’s horse, the newly dubbed “Comet” gained the ability to return to a fully human form while a particular comet passed through their solar system, during which time he and Supergirl struck up a romantic affair.

But none of that is important, because that version of Comet didn’t have ice powers. After Crisis on Infinite Earths, that entire weird storyline was discarded, in favor of, quite frankly, an even weirder one. In Peter David’s Supergirl series, Comet was now presented as an angelic, half-horse super-being with powers of flight and ice, assuming a comet-like form at speed. Comet’s true identity was that of a trampled jockey, Andrew Jones, who was revived and granted powers by a team of bioengineers known as “The Stable,” using horse DNA. It was revealed that Jones died on one of his earliest missions, attempting to save Supergirl’s friend Andrea Martinez, a queer stand-up comic, from an avalanche—burying them both, but allowing their souls to entwine and let Comet live again as Earth’s Angel of Love. I promise you that the comic doesn’t make this sound any clearer.


Viking

Civilian Name: None
First Appearance: Superman/Batman #21, 2005

Viking, the son of Frost Giants, was the ice-wielding, super strong member of the Maximums, a team of heroes created by Mr. Mxyzptlk and the Joker to oppose Batman and Superman, parodying an “Ultimate” version of a team of heroes from a rival publisher. Heroic by nature, the Maximums would team up with their would-be enemies against their creators, only to be dismissed from reality as quickly as they came into being. But in our Just-Ice League roster, Viking is not forgotten.


Frost

Civilian Name: Caitlin Snow
First Appearance: The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #18, 2013

If any hero on this list gives Ice competition as DC’s most well-known arctic hero, it’s Caitlin Snow: the so-called “Killer” Frost. First, we should specify that Dr. Snow is technically the third character to go by that name. The first, Crystal Frost, was a student and unrequited lover of Firestorm’s Professor Martin Stein. After she died trying to absorb Firestorm’s power, she was succeeded by a colleague, Louise Lincoln, who repeated the experiment which transformed her into the ice-manipulating Killer Frost. The latest incarnation of the character first appeared in a 2013 story arc of Firestorm as one of many throwback Firestorm villains to team up against the hero, and was given her own origin in Justice League of America #7.2, a “Forever Evil” tie-in issue. But this, too, was not the Caitlin Snow we know today.

Killer Frost as the world understands her now was mostly defined by Danielle Panabaker, who embodies her as the tragic but always resourceful doctor on TV’s The Flash. Although her dark side as “Killer Frost” emerged as the show progressed, Caitlin has maintained a sympathetic footing which has allowed the character to emerge as a beloved, if conflicted, hero. So much so that after 2016’s Justice League vs. Suicide Squad in the comics, Caitlin was drafted by Batman into a new Justice League of America, where she banished the “Killer” from her name. And in ‘Tis the Season to Be Freezin’, even her old nemesis Firestorm has come to see her as a trusted ally.


Black Ice

Civilian Name: Summer Zahid
First Appearance: Teen Titans: Endless Winter Special #1, 2020

As one of the new students of Teen Titans Academy, Summer Zahid represents the immediate future of ice heroes in a warming world that desperately needs them. Appropriately, Summer’s metagene was triggered during the global assault by the Frost King in 2020’s Endless Winter. For the past year, Summer has been working with the Teen Titans to master her new powers as a potential Titan of Tomorrow.

Will the combined powers of the Just-Ice League be enough to save the planet from a rising heat? Only you can help the team, by doing your part to conserve energy and advocating eco-friendly political change with your representatives. And for now, you can follow their further adventures in Human Target, on TV’s The Flash, and in Teen Titans Academy. Stay frosty!


Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly "Ask the Question" column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.