DC's Top 10 Masters of Ice
Chilling Winds, Snow, and Sleet; The Top 10 DC Superheroes and Villains of Ice
I turned in surprise expecting to find an intruder, but there was no one, just the bite of falling temperatures and the rush of the chill as it set in my bones, numbing my fingers and causing my breath to freeze. Someone...cold, was nearby, waiting, and as soon the crystalline flakes began to form and fall over my cowl, I knew there was nothing I could do.
Brrrh. Is it getting kinda chilly in here or are these mysterious figures of chilling, snowy powers turning down the thermostat? It's true; there are those among us with the gift of glacial skill; that's why it gets kinda....c-c-cold when you're a part of the universe of DC Comics.
Picture: Leonard Snart a.k.a. Captain Cold, takes second to no villain.
In this article, we'll be focusing specifically on the DC Universe and their top 10 most popular heroes and villains of the ice. (One of the reasons DC is perfect for a list of this type is because they have a large number of cold-users.) Of these arctic characters, their listing will be a matter of popularity, but you'll also get to vote your favorite. After all, there's never been a contest to see how fast a person can be frozen to death....
...unless you're volunteering. Let's begin!
DC Ice-Master #10: The Snowman - What happens when mom and a yeti sit by the sweet glow of the fire?
The first submission to DC's Top 10 Masters of Ice is a character that's only seen little of the sun's warmth in the ways of popularity. I'm not sure why; he was covered in snow, could throw a mean 2-ton snowball and was a cross between a yeti and a human. His name - well, The Snowman. (Creative, I know.)
This arctic-spawned creation first appeared in Batman #337 (1981). His real name is Klaus Kristin and he is presumed to still be at large.
The irony behind Snowman that may have kept him from further adversarial adventures wasn't only his origin; It was his background. Because Klaus was a human-yeti hybrid, he had to spend at least 8 months a year in the cold regions (he, of course, preferred the Himalayas). And so, the reason he became a villain was to steal jewels so he could fund his plane trips.
The Snowman did return in 2003 as a member of The Cold Warriors.
This was in
Justice League Adventures #12
DC Ice-Master #9: Minister Blizzard - It's all about Ice-berg Land, obviously.
From way back in the 1940s a super-villain appeared, hoping to take on Wonder Woman (his first appearance was Wonder Woman #29), using his skills as a manipulator and adviser to the icy kingdom of Ice-berg Land (no, I didn't make that up) and Princess Snowmina. This diabolical madman first appealed through politics and bureaucracy, but then gained control of a climate-creating device...and that's when everything dropped in temperate.
Known by the title Minister Blizzard, he quickly escalated as a threat. Although not a frequent run-in on the list of super-villains, he has been known to ally with others. His modus operandi is towards ecological submission; it appears he'll join with anyone who wants to create another Ice Age.
Minister Blizzard, although physically born to a people with natural cold acclamation, is mostly average in strength and power. His main sources of evil are the weapons and gadgets he employs to create cold and icy conditions. And although he has never reached the status of legendary villain, he nearly held Manhattan in his chilling clutch in Wonder Woman #162.
DC Ice-Master #8: The Cryonic Man - The Organ Harvester of Ice
In the era of 50s and the Cold War, one of the concerns of the United States was Nuclear Holocaust; wars, radiation and a post-apocalyptic world filled the media in response. Comic books were not to be outdone and in one such case, adopting the hysteria into the plot behind their villain, DC introduced us to Philip (last name unknown) of the Niles Raymond Project. It was these very designs, protective and benevolent at first, that preserved the group's life, but would also become the dark, horrible secret that turned him into The Cryonic Man.
An assistant, Philip's job was to monitor the team in stasis; they were composed him, Dr. Raymond and each of their wives. Relatively speaking, all went well until he discovered they were all dying of rapid organ degeneration. In his insanity and for the fear of losing his mate, Philip created a suit based on the technology and began harvesting organs to keep her alive.
The Cryonic Man first appeared in Batman and The Outsiders (1983) and nearly killed the entire team. Strapped to his suit are various gases; besides the special freezing gas, he is known to employ a special agent that slows reactions and metabolic processes. He was thought to be killed at the end of the story, but there is now speculation he survived his injuries in their last encounter. (When the team realized what Philip was doing, they turned on him.)
DC Ice-Master #7: Polar Boy - Tharr she blows!
You wouldn't think that an overheated world would originate one of DC's greatest ice superheroes, but in the 31st century, a distinctly hot planet called Tharr defied reason. To counter their furiously heated climate, their citizens evolved with the uncanny ability to project a bio-field; it made them capable of lowering the surrounding temperatures. For them, therefore, this was a natural ability.
But then there was Brek Bannin, a youthful boy who happened to live in the deepest valley in the hottest area of Tharr. Unlike most, the locals of his area had abilities that surpassed the rest of their kind. With their unique talents, they could generate actual snow and ice. Brek, headstrong and full of adventure, did so, first appearing in Adventure comics #306.
Wanting to be a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Bannin named himself Polar Boy and performed his talent during recruitment. He had one problem, though; he was inaccurate and unreliable. Rejected for membership, Brek decided to form his own team, naming them the Legion of Substitute Heroes. (Yes, they were all rejects.)
Nowadays, Brek is a fully accepted member of the Legionnaires; at one point, his charisma and guidance even made him their leader. Somehow, through hard work and dedication, he became a chilling force of extreme colds.
DC Ice-Master #6: Icemaiden
Because Norwegians have the best ice-powers.
Appearing as one of the first ice-wielding heroes in the DC Universe, Sigrid Nansen of Norwegian descent receives the trophy as Icemaiden, first appearing in Infinity Inc. #32 (1986, but technically her character did appear in Super Friends #9 in the 70s). The child of a leading scientist in the government, she underwent a series of experiments that granted her the power to freeze objects and generate frozen shapes. One of her most unique abilities was to fashion icy armor as a form of protection.
For the most part, Icemaiden enjoyed little success in the comic book world; she first joined the Global Guardians, but left once the superheroine Ice joined the group. Partly, the lack of enthusiasm towards Sigrid was an uninteresting origin. Her mother's research was based on a legendary Norwegian tribe of ice-people; her daughter just happened to be the superficial recipient. And once Ice, an actual member of this mythic people, appeared, Sigrid faded into the background.
Still, every once in a while Sigrid appears, taking a role in the events of DC's super-heroic soap opera. When Ice was thought to have died, she filled her place in the Justice League. Again, though, she devolved into a lesser role, finally ending up with Justice League Europe...and then she was lured away aimlessly and disappeared for years. (Of last note, her skin had been removed by a villainess naming herself Endless Winter. Sigrid was last seen dying in a chemical washtub.)
At this point in time, it's uncertain if Icemaiden is a survivor the New 52 shake up at DC; presumably, however, you never kill a hero without making it a big event, so perhaps will be seeing her in the future.
DC Ice-Master #5: Killer Frost - A chilling psychotic feeding on warmth.
With the chill of an icy embrace and the ability to freeze a person to death, villains are perfect for the powers of cold; it's very easy to kill innocents with an accidental blizzard or rapidly dropping temperatures. Double that when you're making an effort. At every turn, the cold villain's very presence becomes a threat to society.
But even the typical cold user won't hold a flame to Killer Frost; she's an antagonist whose innate survival requires her to draw upon living warmth. One of the great reoccurring ladies of badness, her name has been grown in popularity, represented by. three people: Crystal Frost, Louise Lincoln, and Loren Fontier.
Crystal was the original Killer Frost (Firestorm #3, 1978), an aspiring scientist who held infatuation for Dr. Martin Stein (part of the original Firestorm matrix). When he didn't reciprocate her feelings, she was accidentally caught in a thermafrost transformation, giving her deadly cold powers. A vindictive, vengeful foe, she would later die battling him.
The woman who held the title for the longest was Dr. Louise Lincoln (Firestorm v2 #21, 1984); she was a friend and associate to Crystal and duplicated the same cold-transformative process. When she took the Killer Frost mantle, the character evolved to many psychotic roles including affiliation with other ice-wielding villains and using her seductive wiles to gain more power. Her success allowed her to outgrow Firestorm and challenge many other heroes such as Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern.
In 2011, with the release of DC's New 52, the latest incarnation of Killer Frost appears to be Loren Fontier. This woman seems to be more of a terrorist and was caught in a nuclear transformative blast in The Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Men #1. Caught in the aftereffects and rubble, she's appeared with blue skin and a deathly cold touch.
The main profile of Killer Frost is what makes her popular; she's become mentally unstable and sometime suicidal. Murdering seems to excite her and she enjoys using her freezing touch on men in particular.
DC Ice-Master #4: Icicle - A Chilling Generation of Frozen Power
Rarely does the mantle of super-villain pass to the next generation; it takes a unique psychological profile for the son to fall into the patterns of the father. Not so, for Cameron Mahkent, though, and his parent, Joar.
Joar Mahkent was the first icicle, appearing in All-American Comics #90 (1947). His freezing powers were the icy effects of a ray gun. With his malevolent disposition, he turned his tricks against the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott. (Joar is now believed to have died during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.)
Cameron, on the other hand, developed into sturdier stock. After his father's long exposure to thermo-reducing technologies, he turned out to be a meta-human with the genetic ability to pull moisture out of the air, freezing it. His first appearance was Infinity, Inc. #34 (1987).
Both son and father, ironically, decided to work their powers of chilling temperatures for the bad guys. Joar was mostly of the mastermind profile with the designs of a conqueror and world domination; Cameron spends most of his efforts teaming up with other super-villains of like mind. In either instance, each proved a frozen threat to either the Justice Society of America or the Justice League.
DC Ice-Master #3: Ice - Or, "How Shyness Can Become So Cold"
One of the premiere superheroes to wear the mantle of mastery in the world of snow and freezing temperatures is none other than Ice, Tora Olafsdotter; most fans of the DC Universe know this pretty, young do-gooder through her affiliations with the Justice League, Global Guardians, Cabre, and her recent crossover into the New 52 with Justice League International.
Tora's first appearance was in Justice League International #12 (1988) and she is unique among most ice-wielders because her powers are cryokinetic; she was born in a gypsy traveling tribe in the Norwegian area as a metahuman and gifted with the ability to create ice (cryogenesis) and manipulate it.
The ongoing presence of Ice in comic books seems to center mostly on her shy personality (which can be traced back to her childhood) and relationships. Tora's main associates are Fire (Beatriz da Costa), whom she has teamed-up with on many occasions and Guy Gardner, an on-and-off, Sector 2814 Green Lantern boyfriend. While most people take her bashful behavior as a character flaw, it was later established that this demeanor helps her maintain control.
On levels of power, Ice may be in the upper echelons of the class. In some instances, she's powered up with the capability flying, limitedly controlling the weather, and devastating everything around her. To date, these fluctuations are erratic and usually due to other circumstances, but it has been established that her emotions are the key to this transformative condition.
DC Ice-Master #2: Mr. Freeze - Behold, The Lonely Cold As It Encases Your Flesh
First appearing in Batman #121 (1959), Dr. Victor Fries has been one of the hallmark super-villains in the world of ice and cold. Although he mostly fought the caped crusader, he was solo among the frost-themed users, wielding a "cold" gun that could surround and immerse his victims in an icy tomb. Back in the day, his appearance was typically fraught with humorous anecdotes and a comical backdrop.
But all that's changed since his most popular origin was revealed in Batman: The Animated Series, a Warner Brothers cartoon in the 90s. With the legendary episode, we became introduced to a psychotic sociopath with no inhibitions towards killing. Dr. Fries, victim of a cryogenics accident, was forever changed during the experimental catastrophe where he tried suspended animation on his dying wife. Emerging with a mutation towards sub-zero temperatures, all comical intents were dropped and Mr. Freeze become a serious killer.
To compensate for his altered physiology, Victor now dons an exoskeleton that protects him from normal temperatures. (Not only does it preserves his near-frozen body, but it has been adapted to fire his patented blasts of cold.) On numerous occasions, he has used his genius to hold Gotham City and other locales within his icy clutch.
Victor Fries, one of the premiere super-villains of all time, has become near-legendary when focusing on ice-themed powers. Even though his abilities are mostly technology-based, his psychological background and brilliance make him one of the most stunning and well-remembered of villains.
DC Ice-Master #1: Captain Cold - Leader of The Rogues' Gallery, Bitter Nemesis of The Flash
If you're thinking you have to be born with ice-causing powers, the ability to manipulate freezing torrents of snow, or the consummate need to drain all warmth from life around you - if that's what you think it takes to be the best at the wintery chill, then you're wrong! There's one villain who's made freezing temperatures his theme and the irony is that he has to wear a thick, insulated costume to keep himself safe.
Enter: Leonard Snart, the man infamously known as Captain Cold. You'd think he couldn't hold a chilling gaze next to Mr. Freeze, maybe he's not as lucky as Ice or Killer Frost because he's not a metahuman. But therein lies your mistake. Draped with the polar-colored parka and the trademarked squinting visor, he's the cool-hand Luke of super-villains, capable of turning you to absolute zero with his specialized guns.
Captain Cold first appeared in Showcase #8 (1957) and back then he was a simple son of an ice truck driver. Since that time, he's managed to become the unflinching leader of the Rogues' Gallery, a group dedicated to the destruction of The Flash. If you've ever watched him in action, there's something in his demeanor. No, it's not his cold hard attitude towards leadership - somehow Snart pulls together the resources to contend with anyone he faces; with cleverness and cunning, he works his two-handed markmanship with snow-blinding accuracy and incredulous results.
If you're new to comic books or a big fan, your opinions here regarding this Top 10 List is appreciated. Feel free to tell us what you've heard or seen; it's always good to know more. And if you see any errors or have any critiques, let me know. I'll fix it up quickly.