An Emma Frost Salon
by Ken Kneisel
Welcome to White Queen Wednesday, gentle reader. This week we turn our attention to Emma Frost’s latest evaluation by former Captain America and current head of all things Avengers, Steve Rogers. Having previously scrutinized the entire super-powered community of the Marvel Universe at length, heroes and villains alike, Steve has now decided to specifically size up the remaining mutants among the X-Men and their affiliates and enemies. However, his new profile of Emma Frost leaves something to be desired.
The last time Steve Rogers examined Emma Frost’s place in the Marvel Universe, I was impressed by the fact that he chose not to dwell on her history as a villain. But this time Steve takes Emma to task for her time as the wicked White Queen of the corrupt Hellfire Club and suggests that her X-Men teammates also view her with suspicion, even going so far as to implicitly call into question her committed relationship with Cyclops. This is such a tired trope and especially disappointing coming from Steve, considering he was previously so willing to overlook her villainous history and even suggested she might deserve a spot on the prestigious Avengers.
One of the primary reasons I find this kind of specious accusation and baseless suspicion to be so tedious and tiresome is that if you objectively look at the facts, Emma has now spent substantially more publication time as a hero than as a villain. Allow me to break it down. Emma first appeared as the evil White Queen in 1980’s Uncanny X-Men #129 and remained a villain until her Hellions were slaughtered and she fell into a coma in 1991’s Uncanny X-Men #281. So she was a villain for roughly eleven years. She remained in a coma and was watched over by the X-Men until she revived and repented of her villainous past in 1994’s Uncanny X-Men #314. Since then she has been an ally of Professor Xavier and the X-Men, first transforming her Massachusetts Academy into a subsidiary of Xavier’s school in the pages of Generation X for a number of years and later joining the X-Men proper in 2001’s New X-Men #116. So altogether she has been an ally or outright member of the X-Men for damn near seventeen years now. I don’t mean to be so pedantic about this point, but do I find it irksome when Emma’s past with the Hellfire Club is used to besmirch her character when she has proven herself for so many years as a hero.
I also find it bothersome that Steve seems to think the fact that Emma once slept with Iron Man and Namor the Sub-Mariner during her debauched days with the Hellfire Club could be considered some kind of positive mark in her favor. This once again speaks to Steve’s sexist double standards in concerning himself so much with the intimate details of a woman like Emma’s personal life while saying absolutely nothing about, just for example, a man like Wolverine’s notorious bed-hopping reputation. But even beyond that, I’m not entirely convinced that Emma being intimate with a couple of superheroes while she was a villain says anything about her trustworthiness now that she is a heroine herself. In fact I would suggest that those casual relationships speak more ill of Iron Man and Namor’s judgment than anything, since they chose to involve themselves with a villainess. Well maybe not Namor, since he always inhabited more of a moral gray area. But I imagine the fact that Tony Stark slept with Emma during her time as the White Queen would be considered more of a scandal for him than some kind of positive aspect of her character. It really boggles my mind that Steve Rogers would even suggest such a thing.
Anyway, I do like the characteristic quote chosen for Emma from New X-Men #122. Although they didn’t get the exact quote precisely right. Take it away, Emma!