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Emma Frost #12
Writer: Karl Bollers
Artist: Carlo Pagulayan

Giving Emma Frost her own solo book always seemed a dubious proposition, to me. It’s nothing personal. I like the character. What Grant Morrison did with her in New X-Men elevated her from a pretty standard reformed villain to an interesting anti-hero. But her own title?

The only non-team X-book that ever really went further than a dozen issues before was Wolverine, and that’s been canned and restarted so many times, it’s already on it’s third or fourth volume (depending on whether you count the ‘82 mini-series or not).

So why give Emma Frost a shot? What kind of fascinating story supposedly surrounds her life? Why should we hand over our hard earned cash?

I wish I had an answer for you.

The second arc in the series (“Mind Games”) comes to a close in this issue, where young Emma remains a hostage of the creepy street criminal Lucien. After killing her first ever boyfriend in the last issue, he relents from disposing of Emma when her father makes a televised promise to pay the ransom for her life.

Of course, Lucien and his gang understand the dangers of making an exchange and plan to kill Emma as soon as they have two–thirds of the money, but the young telepath finally decides to exercise her powers and make the gang see things the way she wants them to.

My biggest problem with this series… well, damn, there are a few… but I’d say what’s hurting it so much is that it plays out like an origin story stretched thin. The whole thing’s told as if we’re looking at events in the character’s past (“Nine years earlier…”), but the book never refers to the present, so we feel all the more anxious for events to speed up and let move on.

The first arc gave us a schoolgirl story that led up to events in Emma’s that New X-Men readers probably remember being told quite clearly and efficiently by Grant Morrison. But there’s your problem: we already know Emma Frost’s origin. In fact, White Queen fans know it so well they can’t help but notice how different Emma Frost is from the “canonical” origin of Emma Frost (as if anything’s ever canon these days…).

“Mind Games” started us into Emma’s street adventures following her escape from her parents (or, for those who prefer her original origin, the mental institution they put her in). It seemed like a plot that had good potential. It seemed like an Emma story we’d never heard before. It seemed like it might be interesting material that would give us insight into the character. It wasn’t.

Aside from some further exploration of her powers, this is essentially the same Emma the series started out with. A nice, sweet girl. A victim. An innocent. Not the icy seductress who came between Scott Summers and Jean Grey. Not by a long shot.

And I can appreciate that they started her out as a goody two-shoes (note to self: swallow poison for using that phrase), but the character has to develop, dammit! What’s the point of showing us her posh Massachusetts upbringing if none of that contributed to her imperious manner as the White Queen? Why would she become a Mutant Rights activist (for lack of a better term) in her adulthood if she faced none of that persecution in her own life? Why would she become entangled with the Hellfire Club when she has such a natural aversion to power-grabbing elitists?

Oh, I’m not saying I don’t see answers off on the horizon. It just doesn’t seem like any of them are particularly interesting. Hence, I ask again: why have an Emma Frost solo book? The result so far hasn’t been bad, but when I started mentally chanting “Hellfire, Hellfire, Hellfire” after she ran out on her parents, I felt pretty sure that there was nowhere else to go.

Apparently, there isn’t, since the next arc is going to start us on Emma’s adventures with the Hellfire Club. But I still feel we aren’t dealing with the White Queen, here. Don’t get me wrong; she’s a nice girl and all, but we’re supposed to believe this is the same woman who helps turn Phoenix into Dark Phoenix?

It’d take some damn strong mind-control powers to make that happen.



Jason Schachat

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