Storm Arcana

Heroic Tarot & Arcana Academy

White Queen Wednesday: The Outfit

An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel

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Welcome to White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. Forget the affair, the drugs, the drinking and the villainous history. Easily the most controversial element of Emma Frost’s character is her signature scandalously skimpy sartorial style. Emma’s penchant for revealing costumes is well documented, ever since she first strode onto the scene sporting little more than lingerie and a cape.

There is a lot of speculation about exactly why Emma chooses to dress the way she does and what, if anything, it is meant to represent. But for the purpose of this installment we will turn our attention to an enlightening short story from Classic X-Men #34, presented here in it’s entirety for your perusal.

This story is written by legendary Marvel scribe Ann Nocenti. The publisher has lately taken to promoting their female creators and characters as part of the Women of Marvel initiative, and Ann Nocenti is truly one of the greats. Her career highlights include a definitive run on Daredevil and the creation of Longshot, Mojo and Typhoid Mary among others.

I’m sure John Bolton needs no introduction to regular readers of this blog. You might also recall that a couple of his black and white pencilled pages from this same short story were featured in the very first installment of White Queen Wednesday which was written by STORM before I took on guest writing duties.

As the story begins, Jason “Mastermind” Wyngarde is being a big creep and openly leering at one of the Hellfire Club’s scantily clad servant girls. This makes the girl incredibly uncomfortable.

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Shaken up by this experience, the servant girl wanders into the White Queen’s elegantly appointed dressing room seeking solace and a sympathetic ear. But Emma isn’t having it.

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Emma lays out her own idiosyncratic attitude towards sexism and objectification for the shocked maid. Although they wear essentially the same outfit, Emma owns her sexuality and presents herself with a measure of confidence that this insecure young girl obviously lacks.

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For Emma, her barely there outfits are a form of psychological warfare, just another weapon in her mental arsenal. Ever the master manipulator, Emma is not shy about using her sexuality and the effect it produces in most men to her tactical advantage.

This story concludes with an abstract astral battle between Emma and Mastermind, pitting her telepathy against his mutant ability to cast illusions.

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Their maddening psychic chess game ends in a draw and the timid servant girl is more convinced than ever that her Hellfire Club employers are all psychotic monsters. But we are left with an intriguing glimpse into the reasoning behind Emma’s predilection towards all those barely there outfits.

Thank you for joining me for this White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. I hope you return next week for more discussion about Emma Frost.

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1 Comment

  1. Ingonyama

    That’s pretty much exactly what I figured, though I’d never have been able to come up with the exact words. I’m good with concepts, bad at phrasing them.

    Nocenti is excellent at rationalizing what I always thought was the biggest gaffe in Claremont’s “strong Amazonian women” trend…namely, why would a self-respecting superwoman, be she heroine or villainess, dress in a way that objectifies her?

    It’s brilliant to see Emma owning her sexuality as she does, and answering that question in the name of everyone who wears a Fetish-Fueled costume, on either side of the Spandex War.

    Also of note is Emma’s apparent distaste for “Black King” Wyngarde. (I’m a little surprised Nocenti made a mistake like that…Shaw was the Black King, after all. AFAIK, Mastermind wasn’t even an official member of the Circle during his time with Hellfire!).

    I sometimes wonder if she didn’t build the ‘mindtap mechanism’ that he used to enslave Phoenix with the specific plan that their conditioning would fail at a crucial moment, and that he would face the wrath of a mightily-pissed-off Jean, out of some sort of twisted revenge. If she did, I can’t imagine she anticipated having to fight everyone’s favorite redhead first, or having her be quite as fierce or powerful as she turned out to be. ^_^

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