Bobby Drake discovered his mutant power to create ice while in his early teens, yet kept his condition hidden from everyone but his parents. Initially, Bobby was unable to stop feeling cold and shivering, but soon managed to keep it under control. When a bully named Rocky Beasely and his friends attacked Bobby and his then-girlfriend, Judy Harmon, the youngster panicked. To save Harmon, Bobby temporarily encased Rocky in ice, thus revealing his abilities for all to see. Believing the boy to be a menace, the townspeople organized a lynch mob. They broke into Bobby’s home and overpowered him, but the local sheriff took the teenager into custody for his own protection. Meanwhile, the situation had come to the attention of Professor Charles Xavier, the telepathic mentor of the team of teenage mutant super heroes the X-Men.
Professor X dispatched his first X-Man, Cyclops, to contact Bobby. Cyclops stole into the jailhouse as planned, but the two began fighting when Bobby refused to accompany him. Caught by the lynch mob, Cyclops and Bobby were about to be hanged when they broke free. Professor X used his mental powers to halt the townspeople in their tracks and erase their memories of Bobby’s powers. A grateful Bobby then accepted Xavier’s invitation to enroll at his School for Gifted Youngsters and took the codename Iceman. Though initially granting him a snow-like form, Bobby soon learned to increase his degree of cold control resulting in an ice-like, almost transparent form.