Uncanny X-Men #527: Matt Fraction focuses on the White Queen
An advertisement appearing across many Marvel comics a little while ago – what it was for I’m hard pressed to remember, but I’m thinking T-shirts — included Captain America, Thor, and Wolverine with the subtitles Soldier, God, and Weapon respectively. The beauty of the image was how it summarized the cores of these characters in one word: Cap is the ultimate soldier with America’s best interest at heart, Thor a warrior god defined by power and honor, and Wolverine a living weapon always teetering on the edge of losing his soul. The best superhero characters can be broken down like this, and then layered with further depth.
Emma Frost is a perfect character for this reason. Her word is probably Enchantress and like Wolverine there is a sophisticated duality that makes her so captivating. Is she a selfish and ambitious business women taking advantage of everyone around, or a woman fighting to survive in a world that would take advantage of her? Is she a cold, uncaring bitch or an insecure woman desperate not to show her weaknesses. Is she amoral or merely jaded and cynical? Playing on this duality is a crucial task for a writer using the character and unfortunately Matt Fraction gets a “just okay” for this Frost-centric issue of Uncanny X-men.
To further the point, a hit and a miss from the actual issue:
Hit: Tony Iron Man Stark invites the fair Ms. Frost to dinner to discuss the future since, as Cyclops is a dutiful soldier to Captain America’s leader, Iron Man and Emma are the big picture business people.
Miss (More like missed opportunity): When Emma uses her psychic powers to grant a trapped Shadowcat words with her love Collosus, Fraction captures Emma’s prickly condescension well. But once the lovers had shared their sweet moment, it would’ve been nice to see Emma betray a smile that nobody but us sees or some similar gesture.
More or less the issue is that Emma isn’t just stuck up jerk; she’s a scary woman, one people shouldn’t feel comfortable around because she might just be controlling them. As a reader, I should root for her, and believe that she means the best, but always be a little bit afraid that I’m being taken along with everyone else. In this way, Fraction doesn’t quite hit the mark. On the plus side, Fraction is planting seeds of a fissure in the relationship between Emma and Cyclops, which is wonderful. They worked because he was the good boy and she was the bad girl and they both felt good getting dragged closer to the middle. Now that he’s become colder and less idealistic, can he still be that for her, or will she slip back into the darkness where she used to hide her true injured self? Only time will tell.
In other Frost news, January Jones of Mad Men fame was announced as Emma in the upcoming X-men film. On her TV show, she plays a housewife forced into the stilted life of a living jewel slowly fighting to find a voice and vehicle for her desires. It’ll be interesting to see her play the opposite, a woman struggling to hide her true desires by covering herself in barely-there white silk and diamond skin. I’m betting she’ll rock it, it’ll be a cool performance, and a real bit of frosting on top of a hopefully great movie. Pardon my puns.
Tagged: emma frost · january jones · x-men
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