Never underestimate the power of the internet.
Every Tuesday I pop on over to the ‘longest running comics column on the internet’ to hear the good gossip just as I tune into E! television to find out what crazy thing Tyra Banks said on her talk show. This week, they leaked some info on upcoming covers that MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS for the end of Secret Invasion and the beginning of Dark Reign. Did I mention IT MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS? Good, here’s the link and remember what I said about the SPOILERS thing.
Anyone click it? Anyone check out the covers?
So the War Machine one doesn’t seem like all that much of a spoiler; it’s not like we didn’t know war Machine was going to be full of weapons and flying and explosions, right? It’s that second cover that has me thinking and brings me to a particular character and their true place in the Marvel Universe.
Behind the cut, spoilers may occur. DARE YE ENTER?
(my apologies to people who didn’t expect War Machine to bristle with guns and fly while things explode, didn’t mean to ruin it there for you.)
Okay, that cover for Secret Invasion: Dark Reign #1, let’s just get that grainy line-up out of the way: there’s Doom front and center, to his left is Namor, the Hood is behind him, top of the page is Loki-ette, dead center is Norman Osborn and last and certainly not least is Emma Frost.
not a bad crew of baddies if you come to think of it, sort of a ‘Evil Illuminati’, right? Now, when I saw this, I headed back to the guys I work with to spread the news because I am a huge spoiler nerd. Surprisingly, the first thing I heard was ‘that’s not Emma Frost!’ and a host of excuses as to how that couldn’t possibly be her associating with the likes of Doom and Loki. It was surprising to me how quickly they came to her defense considering how many times Emma has tried to jump the fence before.
And why shouldn’t she?
Starting from when we first met the character, Emma Frost was part of our first introduction to the Hellfire Club and also as an alternative to Xavier’s School for Gifted Children. Sure, she wore her underwear on the outside but she was originally there to recruit Kitty Pryde to her Massachusetts Academy. She got to the top of the Hellfire club and used her Academy to train operatives to hold her position. This woman used everyone, from children to lovers, to rise to the top. She taught her students how to do the same, Empath a prime example of someone she groomed to follow in her footsteps. This woman was scheming, manipulative and had a by-any-means-necessary approach to getting what she wanted, a good foil to the altruistic Xavier. An ‘evil’ telepath was certainly something that the X-Men mythos needed at the time; so far, the telepaths of import were Jean Grey and Charles Xavier and the ability to abuse such a dangerous ability was a very understandable threat from a villainess.
And what a villainess she was, from using her Hellions to get her goals accomplished to playing mind games with people at their lowest. She was no misunderstood flower looking for redemption, but a force to be reckoned with. She used Magneto of all people when he stepped into the Inner Circle and played the New Mutants like chess pieces in her collection. she was dangerous and sexy, a fantastic combo, but more importantly, Emma Frost had teeth. This woman had brains, money, position and power and was formidable in and outside of the Hellfire Club.
She was simply too good of a character to let languish in guest stardom; eventually her Hellions were taken from her, she got knocked into another coma and was rescued by the X-Men. Even after such a blow, the woman held to her principles; she pushed Bobby Drake into admitting he was more powerful than he let himself be, she was the other side of the morality coin to co-running the new School for Gifted Youngsters with Banshee in Generation X and her clothing style was still Fredrick’s of Hollywood. Okay, maybe more victoria’s Secret, but you get the idea. Emma Frost was bold and manipulative, still looking to get ahead. More years past, the Generation X book lost its way a few times, Grant Morrison’s New X-Men tried to put her back on top but sadly slid right into the arms of Scott Summers.
Her love for him has made her content apparently as she’s finally put on some clothes. There’s no need to be bold with her new place among the X-Men, there’s nothing to fight against but the enemy. She’s made peace with a lot of her old foes on Xavier’s side, the banter between her and Rachel Grey ending in a mild mutual respect and her friction with Kitty Pryde… well, ending with Kitty’s big sacrifice at the end of Joss Whedon’s run. What is there to challenge her anymore? A once independent villainess scheming against her cohorts in the Hellfire Club now works within a team and takes orders from Cyclops. She’s his moral support at times, his right hand woman and his, let’s face it, replacement Jean. Sure, the books have been very clear that their’s is a true and honest love, but strictly speaking in the plotting sense, by placing Emma on the side of angels and in Scott Summer’s bed, we have lost a lot of what made her unique and exciting.
This is why seeing her back in her bustier is such a thrill. Joss Whedon used it but backed out, Ed Brubaker and Matt fraction teased it with their recent Uncanny X-Men issues because the idea of having the real Emma Frost back presents excitement. The idea that this entire time could have been a ruse and that her working with the X-Men was some elaborate plot to gain control of the team or finally place a stiletto heel at the neck of her enemies is just too good of a lure for the reader. Emma needs a challenge to really shine, she needs to fear nothing and not wait for orders but take charge herself. If this is really her (and not a flashback or Mystique shape-shifted to look like her – no, really), I’m proud. Even if she’s doing it for the greater good of the X-Men to have mutants protected under this new Dark Reign and therefore not really evil, I’m still all for it. Emma frost needs competition, she needs someone to play off of and climb over if she can and the cast of characters she’s hanging out with on the cover of Secret Invasion: Dark Reign #1 are people she can really sharpen her claws on.
I long for the return of the White Queen, sexy underwear and all.