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The History Of DC's Icicle Explained

DC Comics has the market cornered on ice-themed villains, with memorable rogues like Killer Frost, Mr. Freeze, and Captain Cold having made sizable impressions on the page and screen alike. As fans enjoy an ever-larger number of TV shows and movies rooted in the DC canon, their exposure to these frostbitten bad guys increases as well. Oftentimes, these villains, like all comic characters, are changed to fit the medium, the modern era, and the tastes of an audience unfamiliar with their comic counterparts. So it goes with classic DC bad guy Icicle.

Really, though, Icicle already has an intriguing past — even if it is a bit more brief than other, higher-profile DC villains. He might not be widely-known, but Icicle only needs the right writing to flourish in a new setting. More than just an ice-themed baddie (thankfully sans cold puns), Icicle's story contains a whole lot of cruelty and drama for writers to work with. Recently, his status has grown much higher than ever before in the wake of his appearances on The Flash, Young Justice, and Stargirl. Curious to learn more about this icy ne'er-do-well? This is the story of Icicle.

Joar Mahkent

The first man to become Icicle is Dr. Joar Mahkent, who first appears in 1947's All-American Comics #90. He makes quite an impression right off the bat: The luxury liner carrying him from Europe into Gotham Harbor arrives frozen. It is later revealed that the physicist froze the ship, framed a criminal named Lanky Leeds, and faked his own death to mislead others as to the true identity of Icicle, his villainous persona. He is eventually unmasked, but his criminal activities continue for years — he even helps resurrect Darkseid at one point.

Mahkent realizes, in time, that he can make money legitimately with inventions like his ingenious cold ray. Leaving villainy behind, he amasses a fortune. Old habits die hard, however: Mahkent returns to villainy during the Crisis on Infinite Earths event, attempting to infiltrate the renegade Krona's laboratory. He dies in the process. Surprisingly, Mahkent's last will and testament leaves half his fortune to whoever wears the Flash costume at his time of death. He'd come to respect the hero over the years ... and had come to really hate his family.

Cameron Mahkent

After Joar Mahkent's death, his son, Cameron Mahkent, takes on the mantle of Icicle, sometimes going by Icicle Jr. First appearing in 1987's Infinity, Inc. #34, this next generation supervillain comes with an interesting twist. See, Joar's prolonged exposure to his cold ray affected his DNA in strange ways, giving his son Cameron biological ice-based powers. Cameron can freeze objects, lower the temperature of the surrounding area, and create ice-based weaponry when needed, with no need of a cold gun. This gift also changed his appearance, causing him to look like a person with albinism when his powers aren't in use.

Cameron and his father are estranged, to say the least. Despite this, Cameron still takes on the Icicle name — but only for its notoriety, and not because he's all that attached to his dad. Still, he does follow in his father's footsteps when it comes to crime, though he's much more effective and cruel, being willing to kill for what he wants. He seeks to build his own legacy under the Icicle mantle, and joins several infamous groups to do this. Icicle participates in quite a few high-profile antics over the years, even going up against the likes of Batman and Superman at one point in 2003's Superman/Batman series.

The softer side

Cameron ends up being like his father in yet another way — he undergoes a major change of heart. Cameron ends up falling for his fellow villain, Artemis Crock, better known as Tigress. Their relationship leads to pregnancy, which terrifies Cameron: His ice-based powers killed his mother as she gave birth to him. 

The couple plan to steal a mystical rod that makes the wielder temporarily invulnerable, allowing Artemis to safely have their child. But nothing is ever quite that easy, and Tigress and Icicle eventually team up with Hourman and Liberty Belle to stop the power of the staff from falling into the wrong hands. Though the pair end up doing the right thing and turning over the item, Hourman steals the staff back for them, allowing Artemis to give birth to a beautiful baby girl in 2010's JSA All-Stars #11.

Cameron has been known to help the Justice Society of America, once against the Ultra-Humanite — but only when forced. He makes such an impression that an invitation to join the JSA is extended, but he turns it down.

Icicle kids

Joar Mahkent doesn't think much of his family — and that might just be the correct take. His grandchildren, James and Doyle Christie, are living proof. James, an arrogant man, steals an old suit and cold gun and kills his own father, Donald, in 1991's The Flash #56. James also uses his grandfather's classic trick of creating an ice mask to disguise Donald's body as his own. James' rampage continues for a while, leaving a trail of dead relatives behind him, brutally impaled on giant ice spears and frozen solid in massive blocks of ice. He nearly kills his own sister, Doyle, but she manages to stop him with a cold gun of her own and some help from the Flash. Doyle Christie ends up being the only character to use the Icicle name who starts out as a hero — but it doesn't last. In the end, Doyle, rich and idle, goes bad too. 

Ice on the tube

Icicle has appeared on a slew of DC-based television shows, going as far back as a Super Friends commercial for Post Cereal, in which he gets trounced by the titular team. Many fans also remember him from Young Justice, in which both Joar and Cameron Mahkent feature in several episodes. The characters are given several story elements to work with: Cameron falls for Miss Martian, Joar's dismissal of his son comes to a head, and they end up embroiled in a prison break-out attempt.

Icicle has also made his mark on several DC animated movies. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies sees Cameron fight alongside other ice-themed villains against the eponymous duo, only to be quickly taken out by Superman. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox shows an alternate world where Joar Mahkent fights alongside Deathstroke ... until he's killed by Atlantean soldiers. The character is also spoofed in the Robot Chicken DC Comics Special, and appears as the loosely-adapted Dr. Blizzard in the Justice League animated series.

Winter in TV land

Icicle made his first live-action appearance on SmallvilleThis take on Cameron is particularly brutal: He kills his way through the members of the JSA, takes Dr. Fate's helmet, and even pulls the plug on Joar. It takes the combined force of the JSA and the fledgling Justice League to take him down.

A new Icicle named Thomas Snow was created for The CW's The Flash. This re-imagined version of the character accidentally gave himself and his daughter ice powers as a side effect of an attempt to cure their ALS. He's developed a murderous split personality and wants his wife and daughter to join him in evil — but luckily, his fatherly instincts win out in the end, and he dies saving his daughter.

Joar Mahkent, renamed Jordan, leads the Injustice Society in Stargirl. Jordan is ruthless, injuring heroes and even killing members of his own team — but by the end of the first season, Icicle is shattered and seemingly gone for good. Cameron Mahkent also makes an appearance as one of Stargirl's classmates, leading fans to wonder if he might take up his father's mantle.

Icicle was also going to appear as part of Green ArrowEscape from Super Max, a movie David S. Goyer never managed to get off the ground. Alas, that film was forsaken for Suicide Squad.

Cold storage

Icicle might actually be more popular on the small screen than he has been in the comics, having had no significant appearances on the page in recent years. One hopes his presence on Stargirl and The Flash might help revive him — but even that's a complex prospect. Stargirl's showrunner Geoff Johns has discussed reworking Icicle's backstory for the show, as he feels the treacherous rogue doesn't shine much on his own and needed a more complex origin.

With all due respect, we believe the legacy of the Icicle name and the Mahkent family offers a lot to work with. The problem, rather, is that most of the individuals who take the name don't get enough time to shine. Some new, solid stories featuring one of the previously established versions of the character would go a long way to making Icicle a top-tier villain. Come on, DC: Give Icicle a full arc and see what happens!