Jonathan Hickman has done the unimaginable: he has made me want to care about the X-Men again. I’m walking into House of X with a healthy dose of cynicism, but this feeling of burgeoning hope is something I have not felt in a long time. I worried that I’d continue on a path of clinging to Chris Claremont nostalgia forever, because no one since has been able to weave the kind of magic he did. But here we have Hickman with a new era, using the word “years” in descriptions of his plans.
What does this brave new world mean for our faves? One of my frustrations with the past years of Claremont’s departure is characters becoming unrecognizable. Sure, people change, but in some cases, characters have not been allowed to do so. And whatever might become of them is lost in the reshuffle and reboot as a new creative team steps into the sandbox for a minute to play with the X-Men in a way that suits their own desires.
Which brings me to Emma Frost.
In her first appearance in Uncanny X-Men #129, Emma spends as much time in her White Queen corset and cape, as she does in a tailored suit jacket and pencil skirt. But no one remembers that pencil skirt. With the exception of Chris Bachalo dressing the schoolmaster of Generation X in a sleek pantsuit, her attire has consistently been reduced to minimal material, emphasizing and epitomizing that Classic X-Men #34 moment where Emma carefully binds herself into the very trappings of sexism she seeks to defy.
Her characterization is meant to be that of an empowering, sexually confident, antagonizing woman, but artists and designers don’t seem to understand that sexy doesn’t always mean showing as much skin as possible. Moreover, Emma has been defined as a character of very discerning tastes. To be clear: Emma Frost is a sexual character. But Emma Frost can seduce whomever she wishes to seduce, even while wearing track pants—designer track pants, that is.
She’s also a business savvy woman, and her first passion is teaching. These are all elements that have been mentioned or alluded to over her career, but her characterization too often seems to be defined by and limited to her over-sexualization.
In October 2019, as part of Hickman’s new vision, Emma Frost will take the stage as part of the Marauders, as announced at San Diego Comic-Con.
The X-Men sail at dawn! Even in this glorious new dawn, Mutantkind faces hardships and oppression from their human counterparts. Led by Captain Kate Pryde and funded by Emma Frost and the Hellfire Trading Company, Marauders Storm, Pyro, Bishop and Iceman sail the seas of the world to protect those hated and feared!
With just one cover image and a few seemingly simple words, I am filled with hope. Why? Because this could well be the Emma Frost of my dreams.
Beginning with her attire, we have her dressing in a gorgeous one piece suit. The thigh high boots her designers seem to favour are still in place, but there’s no more bared midriff. Her power shoulders jacket boasts a stylish collar and cut, with half palm gloves to finish off the look.
This is the outfit of a woman who cares about fashion. A woman who would never be caught dead walking around in her underwear every single day, much less the same underwear. There’s such a thing as occasion, darling, and Emma Frost should be the master of it every time she makes an entrance. In fact, her every entrance should feel like she’s stepping onto a runway. In fact in fact, I want to see panels featuring her sitting in the front row at Paris and Milan fashion shows with Dazzler and Rihanna.
As much as I love this new outfit on the cover, my dream is that I never see it again beyond this first issue. Because why would a fashion mogul wear the same outfit all the time? Whether in the office, visiting the gardens of Krakoa, pirating, or saving the world, Emma Frost needs to be out there in designer digs, styled by her chosen mutant designers. I want to see her on the cover of mutant fashion magazines. I want human journalists vying to get to her by interviewing her designers.
With the release of House of X #3, my hopes are bolstered by Pepe Larraz, with colours by Marte Gracia, in the first appearance of Emma Frost in this new series.
But it’s not just her look I’m after. There is more to Emma than her carefully cultivated demeanor and style. She is also an experienced businesswoman, so I also want to see her running her businesses like the boss she is. Just as Wayne Enterprises is as much a part of Bruce Wayne’s life as Batman is, Emma’s business acumen should be more than just a passing comment about writing cheques. Which means, I also want to see her on the covers of mutant business magazines, making the Forbes list of top 30 richest mutants. Controlling Krakoa’s assets and investments, I want to see her in business meetings, facing floundering executives with her cool, diamond-hard savvy, and see them fawning all over her, uncertain as to whether or not she’s used her mutants abilities on them, or if their skills are just that inferior.
Is this really so much to ask?