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White Queen Wednesday: All About Emma

An Emma Frost Salon

by Ken Kneisel

emma01
Art by Adi Granov.

Welcome, gentle reader, to the first installment of White Queen Wednesday. Well, technically not the very first. STORM already started this tradition in September of last year. That post was what inspired me to suggest to him that I might like to submit a whole series of articles detailing Emma’s complicated relationships with her teammates and highlighting several topics important to her character, as a companion to Storm Sunday. STORM graciously agreed to allow me a series of guest posts here on his blog, so this is the first installment written by me. I hope you find my humble submissions, and Emma herself, as interesting as I do.

emma02
Art by John Cassaday, colors by Laura Martin.

While you might already be aware that I was the one who suggested to Grant Morrison that he use Emma Frost in his X-Men, you might not know that the idea originally came to me in a dream. Shortly after I had heard that Grant Morrison would be writing X-Men, I dreamed that I ran into him on a foggy San Francisco street corner under a lamp post. He was wearing a black trench coat and I was starstruck to meet him but he remained nonchalant. I told him “Ever since I heard you would be writing X-Men, I’ve been pissing myself wondering if you have any plans for Emma Frost!” at which point the dream dissipated. Not long after that I emailed him and told him what I had said in the dream, prettied up a bit and without mentioning the dream itself. He posted my email on his website and replied “I had no plans at all for Emma Frost but now that you mention it, man…” The rest, as they say, is X-History. So the story of Emma Frost is, for me, very literally a dream come true! I later met Grant Morrison in person at San Diego Comic-Con several years ago. I explained to him about the dream and he told me Emma was his “muse”. (He also told me she was my “karma” for what happened to Flex Mentallo, but that’s a story for another time, perhaps some Flex Mentallo Friday?) It sometimes amazes me when I stop to consider how very different the entire X-Men landscape, the entire Marvel UNIVERSE, would be had I not dreamed that dream or submitted that email. But enough about me. Let’s talk about Emma Frost!

emma03
Art by Terry & Rachel Dodson, colors by Christina Strain.

White Queen Wednesday is whatever I want to talk about regarding Miss Emma Frost. I will be exploring a variety of topics including her complicated history with many other characters, friends and foes alike including lots of her fellow X-Men on both sides of that divide, several artists who have graced us with some of the most striking and memorable depictions of Emma over the years and various other topics of interest to me on the subject of Emma Frost. Her remarkable character evolution from one of the X-Men’s most despicable villains into one of the Marvel Universe’s staunchest heroes fascinates me. Like coal into diamond, she was transformed from the wicked White Queen of the decadently corrupt Hellfire Club into a good queen, the benevolent Auntie Emma. She is the Bad Girl Gone Good, in many ways the opposite of Dark Phoenix who was the Good Girl Gone Bad. It’s inspiring that someone so wicked and evil could transform her life and station in the world so completely.

emma04
Art by Jim Lee, colors by Paul Mounts.

But she was an unforgettable villain, exhilaratingly evil, as cruel and ruthless in the boardroom as she was in the classroom or that room where she kept the X-Men stripped down to their underwear in cages. She has also committed some truly heinous and reprehensible acts of villainy which I will not shy away from in exploring her past. She owns damn near every scene she is in with her sharp and sarcastic dry wit. She uses her sexuality like a weapon as coldly as she wields her mutant telepathic talents and brilliant mind. One thing that is often overlooked in examining Emma’s history is that she’s something of an electronics genius as well. She designed Multivac, a mutant locating computer not unlike Professor Xavier’s Cerebro, a mechanism that augmented Mastermind’s illusory powers to assist him in corrupting Jean Grey and the body-swapping gun she used to trade minds with Storm. (See next week’s White Queen Wednesday for more about that!)

emma05
Art by Frank Quitely, colors by Hi-Fi Design.

And now, gentle reader, I bid you adieu. Until next week, when I will discuss Emma’s tumultuous history with STORM’s namesake and their eventual hard-fought friendship.

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6 Comments

  1. Great. You said the words “Flex Mentallo” and now I have to build my brain back up from square one again.

    Excellent post, btw. I missed just about everything from 1995-2005

    • Sorry, accidentally posted my last comment before it was done.

      Anyway, in the mid-Nineties I stopped reading X-books (and most comics). When I started back in, Emma was a good guy. I wasn’t around for the transition, so for me it’s like they’re two different characters.*

      I gotta move the Morrison X-Men up on my to-read list…

      ——————————————-

      * It’s kinda like how it’s hard for me to see Magneto as a bad guy because I started reading Uncanny when he was a (formerly bad) good guy. In fact, looking back on it, his “return to the dark side” is probably one of the things that turned me away from (most) comics in the mid-90s. That and Bird-Boy.

  2. Two “thank yous” are in order here…one for Storm for inviting aboard guest contributors, and one for you for pushing Emma front and center into the X-books! She’s quickly usurped Rogue’s role as a favorite character…and that’s saying something, since Rogue has been a favorite since her introduction WAY back when! (apparently, I have a thing for the Bad Girl Gone Good!)

  3. Ingonyama

    I quite like Emma, all things considered. Her journey from bad to good has been a fascinating one.

    That said, I don’t like her quite as much as Marvel obviously wants me to. So don’t be afraid if I start sounding a little vehement at times, especially considering her current romantic state.

  4. Ken Kneisel

    Thanks so much for the warm reception and all the great feedback, you guys! I really appreciate it!

    Jake: Flex Mentallo is definitely one of my all time favorite comic books and easily my favorite thing Grant Morrison ever wrote.

    If you weren’t around for Emma’s reformation then I imagine it would seem like a really radical change had taken place. Future editions of White Queen Wednesday will be written with readers like you in mind, to provide a road map of Emma’s rehabilitation and dramatic character evolution.

    I also fondly remember that period of New Mutants when Magneto was headmaster of the school.

    And yes, Morrison’s New X-Men is definitely a must read, particularly when it comes to Emma!

    cynjon: You are very welcome! Rogue was always one of my favorites too. I think my favorite Rogue was during the Marc Silvestri Outback era when she wore the black body stocking under a green one piece swimsuit with long green gloves and boots and would occasionally be possessed by Carol Danvers.

    Ingonyama: I’m glad you like Emma and her journey from villain to hero! I also understand your skepticism and hope you enjoy upcoming White Queen Wednesdays where I will address her relationships with Jean Grey and Cyclops.

  5. Juan Carlos Montiel

    I started reading X-Men comics a year before they brought back Emma Frost from her coma. So I saw her transition from being a member of The Hellfire Club, to working with Professor Xavier and to form Generation X. I stopped collecting a few years after that. I found out that Jean Grey was killed off (yet again), and that Cyclops and Emma were sleeping together (?). That didn’t make sense to me, but lately The House of Ideas has been coming up with some crazy ones, just like ending Spider-Man’s marriage to Mary Jane. I heard that their marriage was brought back, though. For some reason, I always thought that Emma Frost would end up with Sean Cassidy since they’ve worked together for so long. Now that Moria MacTaggert found the cure to the Legacy Virus and died, it might have happened. Marvel’s starting to screw up their characters.

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