An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel
Welcome to another installment of White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. This past Monday night, my friend Juhani and I were walking around his new neighborhood here in San Francisco. We passed Green Apple Books and he pointed out to me that they had comics available for sale. I perused their selection and was startled to find a copy of the first edition Uncanny X-Men: Dark Phoenix Saga trade paperback with the Bill Sienkiewicz cover and forward by Stan Lee marked down to just three dollars! At such a deeply discounted price, of course I snatched up this classic tome by Chris Claremont and John Byrne without a moment’s hesitation. Flipping through it I recalled, as I mentioned last week, that this storyline marked the first appearance of our Emma Frost. Although back then she was quite a different character, the wicked White Queen of the Hellfire Club, the very picture of unrepentant evil. So this week I would like to reflect for a moment on Emma’s first run-in with the X-Men.
After attempting to trick Kitty Pryde’s parents into enrolling the girl in her prestigious Massachusetts Academy, Emma decides to take a more direct approach in subduing the X-Men with a brutal telepathic assault. Unlike Professor X and Jean Grey’s more ethical approach to telepathy, Emma has absolutely no compunctions about using her mutant gift to mentally torment her opponents.
Emma has her Hellfire Club guards strip the incapacitated X-Men of anything they might use as a weapon or to escape. She orders them to take particular care with Storm. Ororo might not be familiar with Emma just yet, but the White Queen is fully aware of Storm’s tricks and hidden lockpicks.
Later Emma keeps the X-Men caged and bound deep within a Hellfire Club complex.
Emma’s first direct encounter with Storm is anything but cordial as the White Queen viciously tortures our proud weather goddess in an exceedingly cruel fashion, taking delight in Ororo’s anguish. What a delicious bitch!
The cavalry arrives when the X-Men infiltrate the White Queen’s hidden lair. Emma turns her attention back to Storm in order to take her frustrations out on Ororo.
But now Emma faces the wrath of Storm’s infuriated best friend Jean Grey in her all-powerful Phoenix aspect. Jean taunts Emma and challenges her to a telepathic showdown.
Jean’s fiery fury is pitted against Emma’s cold cruelty in a spectacular psychic duel.
The battle goes poorly for Emma as she finds herself far out of her depth when facing the virtually omnipotent Phoenix.
Jean might have written off the White Queen after their telepathic tussle, but like any great villain, Emma is down but not out. This isn’t the last we’ve seen of the White Queen. She would tangle with the X-Men and later the teenage New Mutants alongside the Hellfire Club and her Hellions many more times over the years before eventually joining ranks with Xavier and his students, but it is interesting to look back at her villainous beginnings even if only to see just how far she has come.