The Assassination of Emma Frost

THIS is my White Queen

When X-Men First Class first presented images of January Jones as Emma Frost, I was disappointed. When I actually saw her in the film, my disappointment increased. Any number of actors could have done a far better job – Christina Hendricks, for example. (I swear I’m not just suggesting her because her curves would look utterly delicious in a proper Emma Frost outfit – as opposed to the ill-fitting Walmart bra they stuck Jones in) – but it wasn’t just the acting that caused my disappointment. Far worse was the fact that a woman still known in the comics as The White Queen was reduced to lackey status and literally told to get ice for Sebastian Shaw’s drink.

Sent to get ice for his drink. And maybe a sandwich while she’s at it?

That is NOT my White Queen.

But apparently, it is the Emma Frost Marvel has come to embrace, culminating in her current place at Scott Summer’s side in the aftermath of Avengers vs. X-Men.

First off, let me make it clear that I have nothing against Emma and Scott being together. In fact, I loved their relationship and even how it came to be, far more than I ever cared for his relationship with Jean Grey. Actually, I never liked his relationship with Jean Grey. Mainly because Jean was never permitted to be a woman unto herself. She is and always will be defined by the men who love her and the entity that embraced her. Only in death was she released from that, but gods forbid Marvel ever let her stay dead.

When Emma and Scott became a couple, I loved it. Emma was everything Scott needed and she knew it and knew him, even as she had to deal with the ghost of Jean Grey hovering over their relationship. More importantly, though, Emma was her own woman first and foremost. She had her own dreams, desires and goals and, if she chose to let supporting Scott be one of those, that was perfectly acceptable. No matter how clear it became that she truly loved Scott, this was a woman who could walk away from that love if she felt it compromised her in any way. She wasn’t doing anything for Scott. This was for her.

Let us not forget that Emma is not a “good guy” because of Scott. He’s not the one who entrusted her with an “X” on her uniform. Though she may not have been absolved of her past crimes in the eyes of some, Emma long since proved herself as headmistress to the young mutants known as Generation X. Teaching is her first love and she had her opportunity to shine there and later at Xavier’s school and to deal with the ever present guilt of the students she lost in the past. During these times, she never once pretended or even tried to be the warm, loving example of teacherdom, though she cares for her students no less than any other teacher would or should. Her goal has always been to teach them self-reliance and how to protect themselves from enemies within and without. Including herself.

I was so pleased when, at the end of Schism, when everyone was choosing sides, Emma actually chose to join Logan at the Jean Grey Academy. I was so impressed with Marvel for the maturity of this “break up.” Emma still loved Scott, and, while she agreed with his “mutantkind first” views, she could not agree with his desire to use children and turn them into mere soldiers. And more importantly, she wanted to serve greater purpose for herself by returning to her first love.

My pleasure lasted only a few panels. Emma stayed with Scott anyway because she knew Scott needed her (and her bank account). Storm also stayed with Team Scott, despite being completely opposed to his ideals. Presumably both women stayed to serve as conscience and control for Scott’s increasingly questionable morals in his pursuit to protect the remnants of mutant kind. This was an admirable purpose for both of them, but sadly, beyond this exchange below, Emma and Storm were on their way to playing distant seconds to the Scott (and Wolverine) show, culminating in their utter sidelining in AvX.

I don’t want to make this about Storm as well (that’s digitaltempest’s job), but I can’t help but mention the way Storm, a leader of the X-Men and Morlocks, a mortal goddess, queen of Wakanda – a woman who is well respected by many for her morals, resilience, leadership, determination and judgment – was reduced to expressing her discomfort with Scott’s plans over Hope Summers, but going along with them anyway, whining over not getting to go to the moon, and being unceremoniously dumped by her husband in the span of twelve issues.

I am trying not to make this about Storm, but I can’t help but address the relationship between Storm and Emma that Marvel has no idea how to deal with anymore. There is significant bad blood between them, due to their initial encounters being when Emma was not so nice, but, being a mature woman, Storm was able to accept Emma, if not completely forgive her. Their subsequent adventures together dealt with this tension between them, but also offered the potential for a strong bond – at the very least, a grudging respect. But, as with all else in AvX, Marvel forgot about all the good writing and characterization that came before and opted for a more pithy face off between the two women who ought to have been working together to stop Scott’s crazy.

In fairness, Emma was struggling with her own crazy during AvX, having to deal with the Phoenix powers. So much potential there, with Emma fighting over her desire to avenge mutantkind violently versus her desire to protect it and humanity peacefully. AvX touched on this briefly, before veering off into Emma playing queen of hearts with Magneto (don’t even get me started on how he’s been wasted, too), before finally getting choked out by Scott so he could steal her powers.

This was one of the many things that bugged me about AvX. So much so that I was compelled to rewrite AvX to my liking, taking the time to make Emma a far more prominent player in the game, rather than just a Tupperware plot container, holding on to the Phoenix power until Scott needed to bust out the Dark.

And what does Emma do after being almost murdered by Scott? Well she goes back to him like a good girlfriend should. After complaining about not having heels to wear in jail. I have been unable to bring myself to read further post AvX: Consequences books, but I imagine Emma’s reasoning for going back to Scott involved the words “But he loves me. He didn’t mean it. He wasn’t himself. He’ll change. It will be okay. That bruise is from gymnastics class. He loves me! I know he does!” Marvel at least addressed this, albeit briefly, through Kitty Pryde, who, like Storm, had issues with Emma from when they first met but, unlike Storm, has not come to terms with it, no matter how much effort Joss Whedon put into implying otherwise by the end of his Astonishing X-Men.

I don’t know where Marvel plans to take Emma now. I am stupidly curious, as I always am with Marvel. But, as I always am with Marvel now, I know I will be disappointed. I hold out little hope that the strong, independent woman will return. Part of me wishes Scott had actually killed Emma in an epic battle that really brought the VERSUS to AvX. Or that she sacrificed herself in an noble attempt to stop him. Something. Anything. Even though death means that she’d have to be resurrected by Marvel law. Anything other than this slow fade to gray she has been given. I fear that the Emma I knew and loved – the one who taught me the truth about feminism and sexism and power when I was but an impressionable teenager – is lost. Replaced by this pathetic shadow of her former self.

Scott needs ice for his drink, Emma. 😦

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