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White Queen Wednesday: John Bolton

BoltonX-men1

While I was putting together this week’s Storm Sunday’s focus on John Bolton, I kept coming across his drawings of Emma Frost, also known as the White Queen of the Hellfire Club!  This post is dedicated to comicdom’s notorious fan and my friend Ken Kneisel, one of the most diehard fans of Emma I have ever met!  I hope he and you, dear reader, find some enjoyment in the images from today’s post which were originally featured in a backup story in Classic X-Men #34 and that they compel you to enter into the discussion I have proposed at the end of this post!

BoltonQueen1John Bolton certainly knows how to pare a scene down to its essentials.  In these two pages, the emotional situation is readily apparent.   Captions and word balloons are simply not necessary to know that there is an obvious power struggle going on here and the White Queen certainly has the upper hand!  I really like the strong use of design in these pages, especially the wallpaper.  The delicate swirls are in direct contrast to the severe body stance of the White Queen.

Emma used to be such a great villainess and in today’s continuity she is a heroine.  I think her character’s journey has been intriguing, but I think it is a delicate balance to maintain the snarky wit of a rather jaded woman with her desire to teach the next generation of mutant children.  Grant Morrison certainly left his mark on her when he used her for New X-Men, but he had a great template to work with from her creators (Chris Claremont and John Byrne).  Joss Whedon obviously had a lot of fun writing her in Astonishing X-Men and Warren Ellis reaps the benefits on that title now.

As far as the character has come, I would not want to see all of her development ruined by having the character return to her villainous roots.  I think it is much more interesting to read about her new life as a mutant leader with dreams of reformation (One could argue that she is, in fact, already redeemed by proof of her position in the X-Men alongside Cyclops).  Her retconned past with Namor (the Sub-Mariner) and Tony Stark (Iron Man) seemed a bit shoehorned to me at first, but these revelations have grown on me.  I find it makes her character tapestry all the richer.  Out of all of the Dark Reign tie ins, I have enjoyed Emma’s interactions with Norman Osborn the most.  I think she’s the kind of woman who could really find a way to topple his rule.  I don’t see it ever happening as I assume that Spider-Man is destined to defeat Osborn as the Green Goblin is his villain, but I hope that if and when Norman falls, that Emma is there to jab a spiked heel into his ribs.

WhitequeenboltonAbove is a scaled down version of the back cover of Classic X-Men #7.  Emma looks right at home.  At this time in her life she has no idea that she will fall in love with Scott Summers (Cyclops) and therefore make his character compelling (at least to me).   And just think, if she hadn’t been in a coma when her students (the Hellions) died, she might not have teamed up with Banshee, Jubilee and Sabretooth to save the next generation of mutants.  And then she might not have joined Generation X as headmistress, which would not have led her down the road to her redemption.

What do you think, dear reader?  Do you like reformed Emma or do you miss the evil to the bone White Queen of her Hellfire Club days?  Do you think her character arc makes sense considering how she was introduced back in the days when she was body swapping with Storm, harassing the New Mutants and trying to make Firestar into her personal weapon?  What do you like most about her and what do you think is essential to the core of the character?  There’s no denying Emma’s popularity.  I’m just curious from where it stems.

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3 Comments

  1. Ken Kneisel

    Thank you for dedicating this post to me, STORM! 🙂

    I absolutely love that Classic X-Men back-up story by Ann Nocenti and John Bolton where those first two images came from, where the lowly Hellfire Club serving girl can’t understand how Emma can tolerate being dressed so provocatively when she herself is deeply uncomfortable being made to wear so little clothing, and Emma confidently corrects her. “Yes, you wear that outfit, and men look at you, and it cheapens you. But when I wear it, it cheapens them.” She then elaborates her point. “Let me explain a few things about sexism, girl. It’s all in what you use it for! The Hellfire Club reeks of desire and ambition for success and world domination. But it’s really about personal domination. My clothes are my battle armor! I dress to go to war! My looks and body are weapons on par with a man’s fists.” And later, “There is no such thing as sexism, unless you give them that power! No one dares look at the White Queen in that way! I fight my battles without getting a speck of dirt on my gloves, not a hair out of place!” Go on with your bad self, Emma!

    I agree with you that at first I found the retcons of her sexual trysts with Tony Stark and Namor to be kind of forced and shoehorned in. But now I like that they’re going to such great lengths to integrate her even more into the history of the broader Marvel Universe and not just the X-Men’s little corner of that universe. It also makes her even more like the female version of Wolverine, with her own unique spin of course. Whereas it’s been retconned that Logan was slicing up ninjas and commies with the likes of Captain America, Black Widow, Ben Grimm and Carol Danvers; Emma was racking up sexual conquests with some of the MU’s most desired and eligible bachelors. LOL

    Another thing I find interesting about Emma in examining her history is that it seems like she was always searching for a younger female protege. First it was Kitty Pryde and then Firestar and now in Warren Ellis’s Astonishing X-Men it seems like she has settled on Armor from the new crop of students to kind of take under her wing and provide guidance for.

  2. Ken Kneisel

    It also used to really bug me the way they seem to keep telling and retelling this whole “OMG Emma is all evil again! Oh wait, no she’s not.” story, teasing her return to her villainous ways which I absolutely agree would be such a waste of all the progress she has made and all the good work that has been done with her character since the death of her Hellions.

    I mean, Grant Morrison teased that she had sold out the X-Men to Cassandra Nova in exchange for the safety of her and her Cuckoos in New X-Men #126, Chris Claremont teased that she had been possessed by Bogan in X-Treme X-Men’s Schism storyline, Greg Pak teased that she had been overtaken by the Dark Phoenix in X-Men: Phoenix: Endsong, Joss Whedon teased that she had again sold out the X-Men to Cassandra Nova in Astonishing X-Men’s Torn storyline, and now Brian Bendis and Matt Fraction just finished teasing that she had sold out the X-Men to Norman Osborn during Dark Reign and the Utopia crossover.

    At first that really irritated me and made me feel like they just couldn’t figure out anything else to do with her character, until I came to the realization that each of those instances I just mentioned also had the effect of proving Emma’s true loyalties to key characters who perhaps needed to see proof of her conversion based on their history with her as a villain back in the day.

    In New X-Men, it was Professor X who might have needed to be convinced that taking Emma into the X-Men was a good idea after all.

    In X-Treme X-Men, it was Storm who had a legitimate beef with Emma based on the body swapping thing you mentioned and was also having her head filled with jealous lies by the bitter Sage AKA Tessa. This was an important step in Storm and Emma’s relationship since Storm was able to get her licks in while Emma was possessed by Bogan which was probably cathartic and helped pave the way for their friendship in the pages of Warren Ellis’s Astonishing X-Men which you know I am loving.

    In Phoenix: Endsong, it was Jean Grey/Phoenix who perhaps wanted to make sure that she had made the correct decision in blessing Emma’s relationship with Scott in the closing pages of New X-Men’s Here Comes Tomorrow storyline by testing Emma with the Dark Phoenix to see if she broke before Jean could finally rest easy in her White Hot Room knowing that Scott was in good hands.

    In Astonishing X-Men, it was clearly Kitty who had some pretty obvious reservations about Emma, who she had previously only known as a villain, suddenly being embraced by the X-Men and needed to have her true loyalties proven beyond a shadow of a doubt before she could accept her as a teammate.

    And now in Dark Reign and the Utopia crossover, it seems like it was mainly about Cyclops and Emma’s relationship and how much he truly trusts her.

    So now that she has proven herself to all the doubters, hopefully we can put all these “OMG Emma is all evil again! Oh wait, no she’s not.” stories behind us. 🙂

  3. First off, STORM, thanks for the great post! Ms. Frost has always had a place in my heart. I can instantly conjure up her images (I think there were about 4 different ones) from the fleer ultra decks (’94 and ’95). For me, she was always appealing in the way any good villain is. And it was that whole “I love to hate her” thing.

    Being a Rogue die hard fan myself, I was always pulling for the “good girls” so it was such a stark comparison to have these “bad girls” throwing their weight around. I always thought of her as a real woman, more so than others sometimes. Whereas Rogue may be naive or childlike in ways, Emma was always cool and stoic.

    I too enjoy her on the “good side” now. I think it’s makes her a more dynamic and interesting character.

    Also, Ken, thanks for the great quotes. I wish I could shove those pages into some of these so called “feminists” face. You know, the ones who think comic books are sexist? God, what a joke. Anyway, love the White Queen!

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