You know, it seems that there’s been some confusion recently about the characters called Ice Maiden and Ice. So just to make sure we’re on the same page, here are the basics.
Originally, there was this girl who showed up with blue skin and ice powers. She was called Ice Maiden and she palled around with the international group known as the Global Guardians, representing Norway.
A while later in Justice League International #12, we met a new Ice Maiden whose name was Tora Olafsdotter. This was intended to be the same character, except that she now had Caucasian skin. She was named Tora because the creators behind Justice League International were under the impression that Ice Maiden’s name had never been revealed. They were mistaken. She was named “Sigrid Nansen” in one of DC’s Who’s Who books. Oops.
Tora was said to be the princess of a tribe of legendary Nordic ice elementals. She and her best friend Green Flame left the Global Guardians and joined the Justice League, changing their names to Fire and Ice. After years of fighting evil alongside the League, Ice died in battle. Later on, the original blue-skinned Ice Maiden appeared again, explaining that she was Sigrid Nansen and had been the first hero to be called Ice Maiden. Sigrid had gained her powers from an experiment meant to imbue a person with the same abilities of the magical Nordic ice elementals. After Princess Tora, a true elemental, was discovered, Sigrid felt like a second fiddle and so she had left the Global Guardians, vanishing from the public eye. Thus, Tora had taken up her costume and codename, before joining the Justice League soon afterward.
Joining the League after Tora’s death, Ice Maiden became a hero in her own right. She later left the team and, sadly, fell into a tragic fate that has left her comatose to this day. Meanwhile, Ice was resurrected and is active again, seeking to regain her footing in the world.
So, Ice Maiden I = blue-skinned Sigrid, a metahuman. Ice (formerly Ice Maiden II) = Tora, a magical ice elemental. Got it? Sweet! Now let’s get on with this fashion overview.
THE ORIGINAL ICE MAIDEN
Ice Maiden AKA Sigrid Nansen first appeared in the pages of Super Friends #9. This outfit she originally sported looks as if it’s meant for a runway model rather than someone who’s going to be running around as a superhero. The mask is very campy and it’s clear that the icicle lining is a separate piece from the coat, which turns it into an odd-looking accessory. This costume is not the worst ice-themed outfit I’ve seen in comics and it looks like it might keep one warm in icy climates, which could be helpful. But it’s also a bit obvious, isn’t it? “Let’s put her in a blue snow jacket and skirt and then decorate them with icicle trimming.” And why would she need a mask? Can a woman with blue skin maintain a secret identity?
A female friend of mine, upon seeing this cover, suggested that this seemed like a tame Lady Gaga outfit and now I can’t get that thought out of my head.
Ice Maiden’s first in-continuity appearance was in Infinity, Inc. Vol. 1 #32, where we saw working with the Global Guardians. This outfit is a bit more suited for a superhero lifestyle. It also clearly assumes that Ice Maiden does not have to worry about getting cold since she has ice-based abilities.
The boots seem a little silly. The way they seem to hang off, I’m almost worried Ice Maiden will trip under the right circumstances. The cut down her front is good for sex appeal while not stretching into vulgar territory. The gloves and boots match well enough, but I can’t help thinking they seem dull since they’re so close to the design of the main outfit. I think the opportunity should have been taken to make the gloves and boots different from the costume in order to provide some nice contrast. Maybe have them be white with blue snowflake designs along the trimming? Just a thought.
The puffy shoulders are very dated to me, a clear reminder that this is the 80s.
When Tora first appeared as the new version of Ice Maiden, she wore the same basic outfit, naturally. Tora’s dropped the mask which is ironic to me since I’d assume a person with blue skin would have less use for a mask than a Caucasian girl who still had the possibility of actually having a secret identity.
Depending on who draws it, this costume can look more and more like a bathing suit and that’s when it becomes less attractive to me. Likewise, the neckline can get very low and I’m not a fan of that here because this doesn’t make sense for Tora, who was quickly established as a shy, soft spoken character. I don’t think such a person would wear this kind of outfit. Even if someone else designed it for her, I’d think she would object and wear a shirt underneath.
Eventually, Tora got herself an outfit that seemed a better fit for her body and personality.
This is an interesting look. The bodysuit is skintight and sexy. But it also completely covers her and the addition of the shirt gives it a slightly more conservative look than your average super-powered lady in comics.
The gloves and boots now stand out against most of the body suit. The white color is nicely balanced throughout the costume and with Ice’s hair. Having the gloves go up her arms make them sleeker and sexier than the old, pirate-esque gloves. The fur boots are a cute nod to Tora’s background as someone living in the icy regions of Norway.
This design is very simple but not boring. The white and light blue brings up a feeling of winter, especially with the boots. And when I showed this look to a few non-comic readers, several stated that the shape of the inner white area reminded them of a penguin’s stomach. I can definitely see it and likewise there are seals who are lighter in coloring on their stomach than on their back and sides.
So this outfit says winter and it also fits Ice’s personality. No wonder it quickly became considered Ice’s “classic” look.
FROM PRINCESS TO QUEEN
After a few years, Ice wound up becoming queen of her people. With increased power and status, she got herself a new look. This outfit gives an entirely different impression of our hero. We’ve gone back to a low neckline, displaying more cleavage once again. Dropping the shirt and the sleeves has increased the sex appeal as well.
The previous boots were entirely covered in fur. By having fur lining just at the top of these boots, it becomes more obvious that this is just decoration. Added with the fur trim on the gloves, the golden cape clasp, and the belt, Ice is suddenly advertising wealth and luxury. I personally think capes work best on characters who are either meant to be mysterious or are meant to display a sense of great power. Here, it just looks like another decoration. All of that seems against Tora’s basic personality. I understand she was more confident at this point in time, but confidence does not mean she would overtly display her power or position.
While this outfit does convey “ice princess” to me (or “ice queen” as the case may be), it does not convey “superhero” and so it just seems a steps in the wrong direction. It’s also a shame that Ice has lost all design elements and now simply has a blue, uniform look.
As I said, Ice later died and then returned from the dead, at which point she adopted her second, classic costume again. Some time later, she was temporarily altered into a Black Lantern during the story “Blackest Night.” Here, we’ve got the classic look but with black replacing white. There are other subtle differences. The outfit is now sleeveless and Ice has metal bracers. And the shirt is now a sleeveless turtleneck rather than a tank top.
I quite like the turtleneck. I think it adds a nice touch to the outfit and enhances the winter theme of the character. It also just seems classier than the tank top, but maybe that’s just me.
ICE MAIDEN RETURNS
After Tora’s death, the original Ice Maiden showed up in a slightly altered take on the costume she’d worn in the pages of Infinity, Inc. The boots are now more form fitting, which is definitely an improvement. The unnecessary mask has been dropped and the puffy sleeves have been replaced with white fringe. And the neckline has been pushed outward a little more, giving us more exposed skin.
It’s not a bad look, but I still feel it’s a bit too obvious a design for an ice-themed character. A change to the boots and gloves could fix that. The fringe also isn’t much of an improvement from the puffy sleeves.
I’m not against Sigrid exposing this much skin. I objected with Tora because it seemed against her personality. But as a member of the Justice League, Sigrid quickly showed that she was a very flirtatious and confident woman, someone who openly displayed her attractions towards people and who refused to be labeled “bisexual” because she didn’t think she needed to fit into anyone’s “box” or definition. So a revealing outfit work for her.
Eventually, Sigrid’s powers would cause her hair and shoulder fringe to take on an icicle like appearance. These minor touches are just the kind of thing I need for the character’s design to stand out more. She may not be magical like Tora, but Sigrid’s still an elemental and she’s the kind of person who wouldn’t mind displaying her power as opposed to the shy Ice.
STAR RIDERS TO THE RESCUE!
Hey, do you remember that cereal Cinnamon Mini Buns? Man, I used to eat that stuff all the time. I don’t know if it actually tasted good, but in my memory it did so I’ll go with that. And one time, that cereal had a weird mini-comic that came with it. A comic called “Wonder Woman and the Star Riders.”
In 1992, Mattel wanted to do a toy line featuring Wonder Woman and a group of female heroes she would lead called Star Riders (“sparkling super heroines”), whose adventures would be featured on a Saturday morning cartoon. Rather than actually read the comics and use the stories there as a basis, it was decided that this would be a Captain Planet-esque show where Diana led a group of environmental heroes whose job it was to protect magical elemental jewels from a rogue Star Rider named Purrsia (who was aided by her pet panther Panthera and no, I didn’t make that up). A mini-comic was published that established this basic story premise. One of the Star Riders was our girl Ice who, naturally, protected the “ice jewel” and was given a whole new look. The mini-comic stated that Ice was indeed the princess of Nordic ice elementals and added that she was a part-time writer/illustrator who paid the bills by running an ice cream parlor.
A while after the mini-comic was released, Mattel started doing new promotional materials that completely dismissed the comic book and spoke of a new version of the story where Wonder Woman as a younger lady and the Star Riders were super-powered high school girls. In these promotional materials, Ice was described as being an emotionally detached American teen who used an ice wand to focus her powerful abilities. But alas, no cartoon ever got off the ground and the toy line was cancelled, so this version of Ice never really got exposure (for which many of us are glad).
So let’s look at her. That “ice wand” is really more of a scepter, wouldn’t you say? And man, that costume. Can we decide on a color scheme? I can deal with the zig-zag design on the thighs or the boots, but both? And then to have them on the gloves and the below the shoulders as well? All of that makes this costume garish and loud and it’s not helped by the cape. What is that cape supposed to be? A magenta snowflake? It looks too jagged for a snowflake and why would one be that color anyway? Did we not want to use blue because Dolphin was a Star Rider who was already wearing that color? Wait a minute, Dolphin protects the ocean jewel and Ice protects the ice jewel… hey, why are ice and water considered separate elements? Weird.
This costume seems like the artist had two or three ideas of what Ice should look like and decided to toss them all together. Weird and loud. Not a fan.
Normally, I don’t discuss how a character is interpreted in other media, mainly because I have plans for special columns which will be discussing just such things. But since this column is shorter than my usual pieces, I figured we may as well discuss Ice’s forays into television so you folks don’t feel cheated.
The first picture we’ve got up here is from the live-action Justice League of America pilot that wound up never airing. It is a bad movie, do not spend money on a bootleg unless you intend to make fun of it with many friends and a healthy amount of alcohol. In the pilot, Ice was Tori (not Tora), a very shy scientist who discovered she had mutant ice powers and then joined the JLA. She was given a costume at the end of the pilot and only had a chance to wear it during the last ten seconds of the story, just in time to join the rest of the League as they marched heroically through some kind of generic alley. This is basically the original Ice Maiden top with a conservative neckline and matching pants. The belt has a kind of snowflake design on it and… well, yeah, that’s about it. It might work for the icecapades, but I don’t see anyone taking Ice seriously as a fighter in this suit (which means she matches the other lame-looking, live-action Justice Leaguers perfectly).
Ice also appeared in the cartoon series Justice League Unlimited. This animated incarnation took her classic look but dropped the shirt and gave her a small cleavage window instead. This chest window could be a jagged icicle design or an upside down iceberg, but either way I just don’t like it as much as the tank top or the turtle neck that could go there instead. Without that addition, this just looks like a ski suit with a hole cut into it. It’s still better than how the Ice Maiden outfit looked on Tora, though.
And that wraps it up, folks. I hope you now feel educated on Ice and Ice Maiden. And hey, since it’s coming up, I should mention that I will be wandering around New York Comic-Con this year. So if you see me, come say hi. Until next time, this is Alan Kistler, Agent of S.T.Y.L.E., signing off.
Alan Kistler writes the comic book history/fashion column Agent of S.T.Y.L.E. He is an actor and freelance writer living in New York who has been recognized by Warner Bros. Films and major media/news outlets as a comic book historian. He is also the creator/host of the web-show “Crazy Sexy Geeks: The Series.” He knows entirely too much about the history of comics, Star Trek, Doctor Who, time travel, and vampires that don’t sparkle.