When the DC Pride anthology was released last summer, I must admit I found it rather underwhelming and somewhat performative. As an autochorissexual, the overall lack of asexual representation beyond Tremor’s silent role in the JLQ story left me feeling annoyed. Beyond that, I had frustrations over the lack of presence many of DC’s earliest and oldest queer characters in the Pride anthology. Characters such as Lightning Lass and Shrinking Violet, Invisible Kid and Chemical King, Shvaughn Erin, Brainiac 5.1, Gravity Kid and Power Boy, Comet, Hazel and Foxglove, Wanda, Danny the Street, Rebis, Coagula, Enigma, Rainmaker, Blitzen and Donner, Masquerade, Marisa Rahm.
Yes, I do not necessarily identify with their sexual and gender identities, but the general non acknowledgment of these characters despite their roles as queer characters when it was still a battle to have them openly recognized on page as queer rubs me the wrong way. As someone still struggling with their sexual and gender identities, I’ve long felt closer with these characters due to their sincerity and struggles.
Regarding Icemaiden, my initial belief was that DC did not wish to remind everyone of the rather deplorable way Scott Beatty and Rags Morales essentially fridged them in JSA Classified. Yet imagine my delighted surprise to see Andrew Wheeler and Meghan Hetrick’s JLQ story in Tis The Season To Be Freezin’ was all about giving Icemaiden a chance to shine after being forgotten for so long.
It also gave them a chance to be enraged over the way they’d been treated.
Icemaiden, a.k.a. Sigrid Nansen, has a rather convoluted publication history due to a simple editing mistake. Icemaiden debuted in the Super Friends comic tie-in, created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon. A blue-skinned Norwegian capable of creating ice, they aided the Super Friends as a member of the Global Guardians.
When the Global Guardians were incorporated into the regular DC Universe, Icemaiden and their teammate Green Fury joined Justice League International as Ice and Fire. The trouble is, Icemaiden’s name had been previously established as “Sigrid Nansen,” but the creative team on JLI were unaware and called them “Tora Olafsdotter.” As a result, they accidentally created a new character.
The Sigrid Nansen concept was forgotten for years until Ice was killed off in Justice League America after being controlled by the evil Overmaster. Writer Mark Waid famously admitted that killing Ice off was a regrettable mistake.
The people who were hit hardest by Ice’s death were her gal pal Fire and her boyfriend Guy Gardner. As a result of Ice’s death, this allowed for a chance to readdress the naming mistake by bringing back Sigrid Nansen. Sigrid returned in Justice League America when Fire learned of criminals stopped by blue individual who could create ice. Sigrid’s backstory was expanded upon, explaining they were empowered via experimentation from their scientist mother.
Sigrid joined the Global Guardians as the first Icemaiden and befriended Fire, but when Tora Olafsdotter joined the hero scene things got complicated. Tora came from a race of magic users; her powers were natural and stronger than Sigrid’s. Feeling overshadowed and redundant, Sigrid left the Global Guardians while Fire became friends with Tora.
Fire reacted with rage when Sigrid met with her following Ice’s death, thinking she’d been duped. She then quickly went in the other direction trying to push Sigrid to fill Tora’s shoes in the Justice League. Complaints and uncertainties about how quickly Fire rushed Sigrid’s inclusion in the League were met with even more hostility from Fire, while Sigrid was more understanding. It was clear Fire’s mood swings and treatment of Sigrid were unresolved feelings of loss over Ice’s death. Sigrid was pushed back and forth figuring out what Fire wanted and what Sigrid wanted of themself. They became frustrated with Fire’s orders of what Sigrid could and couldn’t do while becoming stronger.
Eventually, Sigrid made a bizarre move to force Fire to finally put an end to her efforts to mold Sigrid in Tora’s image. Dressing up as Tora Olafsdotter, down to a wig styled in the same manner, Sigrid offered to truly pretend to BE Fire’s dear, departed Ice. This was the smack Fire finally needed to realize how much time she wasted, trying to force Sigrid to fill the role Ice left behind and how her grief was making her act out of control.
Sigrid’s relationship with Bea and growing friendship with Nuklon (later called Atom-Smasher), brought forth the reveal that they were bisexual. They were obviously romantically attracted to Fire, and seemed to grow close with Nuklon. Having discussions with him about his Judaism, Sigrid later admitted to Nuklon that they’re both attracted to women. Sigrid also shared a mutual attraction with Olivia Reynolds, an ex-girlfriend of Green Lantern Hal Jordan who showed up to discuss a line of Justice League action figures.
Sigrid discussed their sexual orientation with Nuklon, who was confused due to the revelation AND his teammate and friend Obsidian’s apparent queerness as well. Interestingly, while Sigrid admitted to being attracted to men and women, they asked why they needed to be “put in a box.”
Well, Sigrid’s role with the Justice League ended with a bang and a whimper when Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s JLA began. To make way for Morrison’s new League, Sigrid and the rest of the former team were almost killed by the Hyperclan. Sigrid attempted to join another Justice League in the pages of James Robinson’s Starman, as part of a new version of Justice League Europe. This new JLE was doomed to die when Sigrid was tricked into leaving by the new Mist, who then pretended to be Icemaiden to kill the team off.
Sigrid’s last appearance in any published format from DC Comics up until recently was from JSA Classified. The two-parter Doctor Mid-Nite arc “Skin Trade,” written by Scott Beatty and drawn by Rags Morales, focused on a ring of metahuman organ thefts. Some of the victims included Argus and Loose Cannon of the New Bloods, Godiva of the Global Guardians, and finally Icemaiden. To wit, Sigrid was skinned alive and left for dead, kept comatose inside a tank at S.T.A.R. Labs because no one knew what to do with Sigrid.
The perpetrator of the organ thefts was revealed to be Delores Winters, initially remembered from back in the Golden Age as a victim of the body-snatching Ultra-Humanite. “Skin Trade” expanded on Winters’ life after her brain was removed, revealing she’d spent decades as a body-hopping ghoul herself after one of the Humanite’s henchmen took pity on her remains.
Winters’ obsession with having a perfect body escalated to stealing from superheroes, her first victim revealed to be Icemaiden. It should be noted that Winters wanted and was drawn with alabaster white skin, which made no sense because Sigrid’s skin is blue. Having been captured by Warp of the Fearsome Five, Sigrid was strapped to an operating table – their powers neutralized – and flayed while completely conscious. The odious Delores Winters thus rechristened herself Endless Winter, and somehow got Sigrid’s ice powers (which also made no sense).
Despite Doctor Mid-Nite dismantling Endless Winter’s organ snatching operation, the villainess disappeared, and Sigrid was left forgotten and ignored while the other victims were implied to have been healed. Endless Winter would make one final appearance a few years later in Justice League: Cry for Justice by James Robinson, Mauro Cascioli, and Scott Clark. Batwoman reported to the Justice League that she’d recently fought Endless Winter when the villainess began bleeding from her nose and dropped dead. It turned out she was one of many villains being controlled by Prometheus, who remotely disposed of her when she was no longer necessary. Following the death of Endless Winter there was absolutely no mention or allusion towards Sigrid being restored now with their victimizer captured and dead.
Distressingly, Sigrid’s mutilation at Endless Winter’s hands would be copied in the very same story where their tormentor died. To show that Prometheus was now once again a credible threat, he at some point off-panel managed to slaughter the entirety of the Global Guardians. Prometheus went as far as to have Tasmanian Devil skinned alive, with the fallen hero’s pelt used as a rug in Prometheus’ hideout. This was one of many poorly received aspects of Cry for Justice, and the only one Robinson tried to atone for when he restored Tasmanian Devil to life in Starman/Congorilla #1. However, while Tasmanian Devil was revived, similar efforts were not made for Sigrid.
It needs to be acknowledged it is genuinely distressing how the Global Guardians and the Justice League shared two openly queer members who were both skinned alive and left for dead by two completely different villains in two completely different books.
Sigrid Nansen proceeded to be one of many victims of the New 52’s erasure of DC’s history. Up until the release of Tis The Season To Be Freezin’, Sigrid was a non-entity with no indication there was any version of “Ice” before Tora Olafsdotter. The DC Pride anthology held no mention of Sigrid at all as one of their earliest bisexual heroes, which unfortunately made sense as the Pride anthology lacked mention of many early queer characters.
Andrew Wheeler and Meghan Hetrick’s “Break The Ice” is the first time in over a decade and a half to focus on Sigrid’s disappearance, long after at least two continuity reboots. Rather than establishing a new version of Sigrid or trying to brush off what was done to them, the JLQ story tackles Sigrid’s loathsome handling from JSA Classified and the stories which came afterwards. Interestingly, Wheeler and Hetrick would further establish Sigrid to identify as nonbinary. The story begins with Sigrid referred to with she/her pronouns, before switching to they/them at the very end. Wheeler confirmed on twitter that Sigrid’s indeed nonbinary.
Tasmanian Devil, now married to fellow gay superhero Gregorio De La Vega (formerly Extrano of the New Guardians), went on a mission to locate Sigrid’s whereabouts. Unfortunately, Tasmanian Devil returns to his husband and the rest of JLQ with low level Wonder Woman villain Minister Blizzard on his heels.
With Icemaiden in tow.
The near-catatonic Sigrid is used to bolster Minister Blizzard’s power as he hopes to usher an “everlasting winter” on the planet. Note Wheeler wisely avoids calling it an “endless” winter. Gregorio’s protégé, Sylvan Ortega, manages to connect with Sigrid’s mind. Sigrid is understandably feeling traumatized and justifiably enraged over what was done to them, especially regarding the fact that no one, not Fire or Atom-Smasher, cared about what happened to them after Sigrid worked so hard to be what they wanted. Minister Blizzard even notes Sigrid was left for dead at S.T.A.R. Labs. It’s noticeably horrid in Fire’s case, as she managed to get a reunion with Ice following Ice’s resurrection in Birds of Prey by Gail Simone and Nicola Scott.
At Gregorio’s urging, Sylvan makes a true plea of empathy to help Sigrid break free from Minister Blizzard’s control, affirming they suffered greatly but can still grow and heal. When Sigrid initially calls themself “a glacier” believing they are dead inside, Sylvan retorts that glaciers have the power to create life by forming rivers, oceans, and even protecting the earth sleeping beneath them. At this prompting, Sigrid breaks free and takes the name “Glacier” as a representation of their hopeful future. The story ends with it clear Sigrid’s healing has started, now with people who remembered them and wish to help.
Since Tasmanian Devil and Glacier were both treated as queer cannon fodder, it’s appropriate that Tasmanian Devil was the one who found Glacier when no one else cared.
I was truly delighted and moved to tears upon realizing someone made a conscious effort to address the horrid treatment of one of DC’s earliest, forgotten queer characters. In the years since their last appearance, Sigrid Nansen was solely remembered by the fandom as a poor man’s substitute for Ice and a creepy, manipulative woman due to their relationship with Fire. Reading their stories all I saw was a lost, confused person who felt nothing they did was ever good enough and had to fight to assert their own identity while struggling to do the right thing. Sigrid cared about, most definitely loved Fire and tried to help her but realized they were sacrificing their own identity to appease Fire’s tormented grief.
The catharsis I felt on seeing Sigrid’s anger over their abuse was almost on the same level as watching Carol Danvers calling out the Avengers for the Marcus Kang incident.
Instead of being regarded as one of DC’s first openly queer heroines (to the point they could even be outright called bisexual), Sigrid was only regarded as cannon fodder and forgotten once Tora Olafsdotter was brought back. Whatever misgivings I may’ve had about the DC Pride anthology, I’ve felt a sense of true joy from Tis The Season To Be Freezin’ knowing Sigrid finally has a space where they can receive the recognition they deserve, the healing they need, and the catharsis to finally confront the people who abandoned them.