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White Queen Wednesday: Killer Queen

An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel

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Welcome once again to White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. This week I will discuss a few of those who have died at Emma’s hands. I’m sure there are others I’m overlooking, but these are some of Emma’s most notable fatalities. Her greatest hits, if you will.

Emma’s life is surrounded by and infused with death on many different levels. She herself has died or at least been declared dead on multiple occasions and the death of her students from the Hellions to the Genosha class and beyond was her primary motivation to reform and join up with Xavier and his X-Men in the first place. But this is superhero comics where many characters have died and been reborn many times over and are motivated by the deaths of loved ones for which they feel personally responsible. One aspect of Emma’s relationship with death that differs from most other superheroes out there is her willingness to use deadly force when she deems necessary. While she is by no means some bloodthirsty maniac on a kill-crazed murder spree, Emma has absolutely no compunctions whatsoever about killing her adversaries when she feels the situation demands it. This is an aspect of her character that has carried over from her time as the villainous White Queen of the Hellfire Club to her present day affiliation with the X-Men.

I already covered Emma’s cruelest kill several weeks ago. If you don’t recall, that was when she telepathically murdered young Firestar’s beloved pony Butter Rum and caused the girl to believe that she had killed the horse herself in order to brainwash Angelica into becoming Emma’s personal assassin and bodyguard.

But one of Emma’s very first fatalities is easily my favorite, when she originally assisted Sebastian Shaw in overthrowing the old order of the Hellfire Club to create their own Inner Circle and take up the titles of White Queen and Black King respectively. Although Emma used fatal force to accomplish this goal back when she was still a villain, the even more despicable nature of her opponents left me cheering for the bad guys in this instance. By pitting Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw, who readers had previously only known as adversaries of the X-Men up to this point, against anti-mutant bigots and mutant-hunting robot Sentinels, both of which are enemies of all mutants everywhere, Emma and Sebastian were forced into the role of protagonists and the audience is invited to sympathize with them even if just a little bit.

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Edward “Ned” Buckman and Paris Seville were the former White King and White Queen of the Hellfire Club, lording over their Council of the Chosen. But when Emma learned of Ned’s plan to ally himself with Stephen Lang and Project Armageddon’s Sentinel program to bring about the total eradication of mutantkind, the sting of Buckman’s betrayal would backfire on him horribly. Emma brutally dispatched the former White Queen Paris Seville, the Hellfire Club’s Council of the Chosen and all of Ned Buckman’s lieutenants without lifting a finger by using her telepathic talents to manipulate Buckman himself into doing all the dirty work for her. She mentally compelled Ned to take up a Hellfire Club guard’s handgun and shoot all the guards, the ruling Council of the Chosen and finally his White Queen and lover Paris Seville before turning the gun on himself. However Sebastian Shaw saved the pleasure of snapping Ned’s neck for himself, but their grisly demise is still one of Emma’s most hardcore moments.

The next most prominent of Emma’s fatalities occurred after she had reformed and reopened her Massachusetts Academy as a subsidiary of Professor Xavier’s school but before she actually joined the X-Men proper. Emma’s resentful older sister Adrienne threatened Emma’s students at the Massachusetts Academy, going so far as to kill one named Synch, and tormented Emma with a holographic replay of the death of her Hellions. This ultimately proved to be a fatal mistake when Emma finally became fed up with her sister’s deadly games and, because Adrienne was unaffected by Emma’s telepathy since mutant siblings are often immune to each other’s powers, Emma shot her own sister point blank in cold blood and used her telepathy on the investigating police officers to cover up her crime.

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I had intended to talk a little bit about the occasion when Emma arrived just in the nick of time to pitilessly snap Cassanda Nova’s neck without a moment’s hesitation or an ounce of remorse, although she claimed to have returned to retrieve the Louis Vuitton handbag she had left behind and not to rescue the X-Men. But upon further reflection, that situation was somewhat more complicated than it initially appeared so I will hold off on discussing it in too much more detail until I get around to exploring Emma’s interactions with Cassandra Nova in her own installment of White Queen Wednesday.

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When the reality-altering mutant Avenger Wanda Maximoff AKA Scarlet Witch went mad, her out of control reality warps left several Avengers dead and the venerable Avengers Mansion in ruins. Professor Xavier convened a meeting of all the Avengers and the X-Men to decide Wanda’s fate. Emma was the first to offer a solution. “Put her down.” The Avengers and several X-Men balked at the suggestion, but Wolverine agreed. Among the assembled heroes of the Avengers and X-Men, only Emma Frost and Wolverine seriously entertained the idea of killing Wanda Maximoff in order to contain any further reality warps. The other heroes decided to investigate the situation firsthand which led to the alternate reality House of M and ultimate loss of many mutant’s powers. Was sparing Wanda’s life worth the cost of all those lost mutant powers? I cannot say. That is a question for the philosophers to decide, and such thorny ethical dilemmas are not my area of expertise.

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The moral of the story is quite simple. If Emma perceives you to be a danger to mutantkind in general or specifically her students, she will not hesitate to finish things permanently so that you will never again threaten her or hers. It doesn’t matter how powerful or well-connected you are or who you are related to, and not even pet ponies are safe from Emma’s wrath. Another valuable lesson to be taken from this installment of White Queen Wednesday is that guns don’t kill people, Emma kills people.

So ends this bloody edition of White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. I hope you join me again next week for more about Emma Frost!

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3 Comments

  1. Ingonyama

    Emma’s ruthlessness served her well when Hellfire took prominence. I hated Buckman, Seville, and the “Council of the Chosen,” and celebrated when she and Shaw killed them. Adrienne and Cassandra Nova were other richly-deserved deaths.

    Wanda, though…

    I’m gonna start the philosophy discussion, I think. I felt more sorry for Wanda than anyone else in the entire lineup. From what I saw, her life has been non-stop misery ever since she joined the Avengers.

    Did she do horrible things? Yes. Can she be held personally responsible for them? Depends. Do you view the insanity plea as a valid defense?

    The biggest part of that whole meeting which galls me is that no one considered power inhibitors. Wanda’s powers are a mix of mutant power and magic, to varying degrees. She needs one to access the other, and if you cut off her mutant powers, she’s pretty much taken out of the equation as a threat. With that much brain power in one room, surely Iron Man, Spidey, or Beast could have whipped up an inhibitor collar before she ‘inhibited’ 90% of all the mutants on Earth!

    Granted, the magical side of her powers means it may not have held. But it would have bought them time, at least, to try and reach her, bring her back to herself. Or failing that, cut off her access to her powers and the memory of having magic, permanently. I know Xavier can do that much at least.

    Killing has become too easy an answer to every problem superheroes face these days. I guess it’s because I grew up on an older generation of comics, but I still believe it should remain an absolute last resort.

    Those are my thoughts. I’m more than open to debate! ^_^

  2. Ken Kneisel

    Thank you as ever for the incredibly thoughtful comments, Ingonyama!

    In truth, I don’t disagree with you at all about Wanda. It was regrettable what happened to her character. I think it would have been easier to make a case for killing Wanda had she actually killed any mutants as opposed to just temporarily depowering a few tertiary characters. (Is there anyone besides Dani Moonstar and Jubilee who are still without their powers?) And even if she had killed anyone, with the nature of death in comics these days they would be back already anyway. But then again so would she.

  3. Ingonyama

    I think Chamber, Rictor, and Marrow are still powerless, but Chamber, Jubilee, and Moonstar all have new powers (in Dani’s case, more like old ones…she’s a Valkyrie again, though a modern, Darker-And-Edgier Hell-Valkyrie now).

    So even their loss isn’t major. Rictor’s storyline is the only one I think actually followed through after House of M, since he still has no powers, but he and Shatterstar are now officially a couple (yay!). So character development is working for him. ^_^

    AFAIK, I can’t think of anyone else who hasn’t gotten their powers back.

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