An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel
Good afternoon, gentle reader. Today I direct your attention to “The Sport of Queens”, a short story from X-Men Unlimited #33 written by Will Pfeifer and illustrated by the legendary Esteban Maroto who I am primarily familiar with for having previously drawn a lot of Vampirella comics back in the Seventies. This story stars Emma Frost during her time as the White Queen of the Hellfire Club and her rival Black Queen, the immortal sorceress and psionic vampire Selene.
As the story starts, Selene has grown bored with the obscene wealth and privilege associated with Hellfire Club membership when Emma espies a brutal brawny Hellfire Club guard on the monitor screen who captures both her and Selene’s attention.
Emma proposes a gentlewomanly wager to cure Selene’s boredom. Emma bets Selene that she can’t compel the guard to declare his love for her before Emma. The ground rules are set, no magic and no mutant powers are to be used, and the game is on!
Emma and Selene both ask Chet, the burly Hellfire Club guard, out to dinner and take him to fancy restaurants that he could never afford. They also show him Hellfire Club secrets and give him access to some of the extraordinary conspiracies that the Club has a hand in.
When they both discover that their competitor is playing dirty, they swear that the gloves are off and they will each do whatever it takes to win.
Naturally this means that Selene and Emma both cheat and break the ground rules by using their sorcery and mutant telepathic powers respectively on poor unsuspecting Chet.
I love Emma’s dramatic gown in this panel, with it’s personalized crowned E and WQ logos which stand for Emma and White Queen of course.
Speaking of lovely and dramatic gowns, I also love the formal evening wear sported by Emma and Selene in these next few panels with their matching but not identical dresses and Selene’s long black feather cape complimenting Emma’s sweeping white fur. It really gives a sense of the debauched decadence of Emma’s old Hellfire Club days.
Emma and Selene’s rivalry has a definite Betty and Veronica kind of vibe in this story with their petty squabbling over a boy’s affection. Although I don’t recall any Betty and Veronica stories that ended with Archie’s head exploding from combined magical and telepathic backlash.
As our tale ends, Emma cleverly asserts that she won the wager since the bet was that Selene could not convince Chet to declare his love for her first and he won’t be declaring anything to anyone in his present state. I like how Selene is at first infuriated by Emma’s temerity but that quickly gives way to a grudging respect and camaraderie between the two villainesses.
Well that’s all for this White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. I hope you enjoyed this look back at one of the ways Emma kept herself entertained during her tenure with the Hellfire Club. Until next week…