Character: Emma Frost, also known as the White Queen
From: Marvel Comics
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #129
Currently Appearing: Astonishing X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Men
Formerly Appearing: Emma Frost, Generation X
Created by: Chris Claremont, John Byrne
Image Drawn by: Terry Dodson
Portrayed on Film/TV by: Tahyna Tozzi (Wolverine), January Jones (X-Men: First Class), Finola Hughes (Generation X), Kari Wahlgren (Wolverine and the X-Men)
Character History: Emma was born into a wealthy but abusive home with three siblings. After her mutant power of telepathy appeared when she was a teenager, she was put in an insane asylum. Her father gave her eldest sister Adrienne control of the family company, despite Emma's already astute abilities in business.
Emma escaped the asylum and found her way to New York City, where she became a dancer at the Hellfire Club, an elite social club with criminal connections. After learning of her telepathy, Sebastian Shaw made Emma his apprentice. Together with several others, they overthrow the club's Inner Circle and invested themselves there. Emma became the White Queen, the leader of a criminal empire.
As the White Queen, Emma founded Frost Enterprises and the Massachusetts Academy, where she trained the next group of mutants to become future members of the Inner Circle. She fought the X-Men several times, especially when her students would combat the X-Men's proteges, the New Mutants.
When the Inner Circle began to fight among itself and lose power, Emma started to realize that power and money could not protect mutants from bigotry. Emma called upon the X-Men for help when her and the Hellions were threatened by Sentinels, giant mutant-hunting robots. While the X-Men helped, they could not save the Hellions. Every single one of Emma's students was killed and Emma herself was rendered comatose.
The X-Men, feeling they had failed Emma when she had asked for their help, took her to their mansion. Emma, still comatose, possessed Iceman's body and learned of her students' deaths. She remained at the mansion to recover, until she helped Jubilee and Banshee, along with the villain Sabretooth, protect the next generation of mutants from the alien Phalanx, who had captured rest of the X-Men.
Professor X, the X-Men's founder and long Emma's adversary, asked Emma to teach the newest class of X-Men, Generation X, alongside Banshee. She agreed and offered the Massachusetts Academy as the school grounds. Emma became close with Banshee during this time, but when money became an issue, Emma was forced to go to sister Adrienne for help. Adrienne, always envious of Emma's self-made power, decided to ruin her.
Adrienne opened the school to the public and later revealed its secret as a mutant teaching facility. Adrienne murdered Emma's student Synch, which sent Emma into a desperate downwards spiral. She murdered Adrienne in cold blood and left Generation X to their own devices. The school closed.
Recruited by villain Cassandra Nova, Emma gained the secondary mutantion of diamond-hard skin. Nova placed Emma in Genosha, the mutant paradise, as a teacher, but did not tell Emma that she was going to destroy the island. Nova unleashed a new type of Sentinels, the same creation that slaughtered Emma's original students, on Genosha, killing most of the mutant population.
Emma survived, thanks to her new powers, but her students had all perished. She was found amongst the rubble by the X-Men, and they took her back to the mansion. Emma recovered and helped the team, turning on Nova and snapping her neck when she attacked the mansion. She, for the first time, became an X-Man herself.
Emma fell in love with the married Cyclops, leader of the X-Men, and began a psychic affair with him. His wife, Phoenix, began losing control of her powers, especially after she found out. After Phoenix died in a fight with an imposter Magneto, Emma asked Cyclops to help her rebuild the X-Men's school. He agreed, and Emma became the headmistress and Cyclops' lover and second-in-command.
While being an X-Man didn't always suit the former villain, Emma truly does want to help the mutant race survive. She was forced to watch another group of students be killed when a bomb by human extremists went off on a school bus. The school itelf was destroyed in battle, and Emma and Cyclops moved the X-Men to San Francisco, where they built Utopia, an island fortress for mutants. She remains as the X-Men's second-in-command and has continued the education of the younger mutants on the island.
Personality: Emma has a dry wit, a smoking hot body, and isn't afraid to use every weapon in her arsenal to get exactly what she wants. With her flexible morals, she has committed murder herself on more than one occasion, with the most striking example being her own sister. She will do whatever it takes to keep the mutant race alive, and firmly believes that by educating the younger mutants in their powers and about the dangers that humans can pose, Emma can assure in a safe future. She doubts herself frequently, especially now that she has been re-cast into the role of a hero.
Archetype: Emma's main archetype is that of The Seductress, as her entire personality is based upon her ice queen beauty and power. On the other hand, she is The Teacher, the person whose sole purpose it is to educate the young, no matter how difficult - or in Emma's case, deadly. Emma also fits the Psychic, a sci-fi/fantasy archetype of those who can read minds. Emma is the Reformed Villain, a character who starts out evil but sees the light. Emma is also noticable for having Grey Morals, for while she is more than willing to kill to protect the mutant race. For her affair with the married Cyclops, Emma is often the common character type of the Adulterer.
Other Versions: Emma's most notable comic book alter egos include her Age of Apocalypse self, who had a lobotomy in order to not be killed by mutant-haters; her Vi-Lock world self, who saw her as a handicapped (like Professor X) leader of the world's remaining heroes; her House of M self, a psychiastrist who was married to Cyclops; a future version of her who married the Inhuman King Black Bolt, in order to protect both their races; and another future version called Diamondheart, who had failed in saving the mutant race.
Emma has briefly appeared in X-Men video games, cartoons, and movies. A version of her as the sister of unrelated heroine Silverfox was in the Wolverine movie, and her Generation X era character appeared in a TV movie. She will protrayed by January Jones in the upcoming X-Men: First Class movie. Her most prominent screen appearance is on Wolverine and the X-Men, where she joined the X-Men under false circumstances but realized the truth in their mission. At the end of the series, she sacrificed her life to stop the destruction nature of the Phoenix.
Analysis: Emma's defining personality trait is that she's a bitch who doesn't wear a lot of clothes. Sure, she used to be a villain, but now she's shacking up with Cyclops, leader of the X-Men, and has become the de facto second-in-command since Professor X went off on his walkabout and Storm married the Black Panther. But this fails to mention that Emma Frost has always been a teacher - and unlike most villains, she has always put the interests of protection and education first.
Sadly, she's failed all too often, resulting the deaths of at least thirty of her students over the course of her tenure.
While I adore this character in the right writer's hands for her dry wit and pointed remarks, it's really her soul that makes her truly one of the most interesting of the X-Men. She is both the anti-Jean Grey, the good girl and heart and soul of the X-Men, and the anti-Professor X, who lied to his students about how horrible the world can be. Instead, Emma was blunt - she told her students it would be hard, that the humans would always hate them, and that, if they want to survive in this world, they must always be prepared.
This nearly split personality, from someone who was once more than willing to kill to achieve her goals to protecting the next generation of mutants no matter the coast, is what drives Emma. She is in search of a constant redemption, not only for her past sins but for her failure to protect her students. She joined the X-Men in the hope of protecting her next charges more effectively - in her coldly rational mind, joining the X-Men was not a battle of good or evil, it was practicality.
The X-Men are no strangers to those who break the law. Wolverine is a killer. Magneto was a terrorist. Rogue started her career by single-handedly bringing down the Avengers. But it's Emma that really takes the cake, because unlike these others, Emma has risen to be the public face of the X-Men, and while she was never tried as as criminal, if her past came to light, there would be hell to pay. And Emma knows it.
It wasn't until Grant Morrison's run on New X-Men did Emma achieve this new level of popularity, replacing the other female X-Men as the X-Men's token woman in Marvel crossovers. What Morrison did (in my opinion, the best move of his entire X-Men run) was take all the previous components of Emma's personality (villain, teacher, ice queen, snarky bitch, sex-crazed fiend) and integrate them. The Generation X Emma was a neutered, too good Emma - Morrison allowed Emma to be both good and bad.
And that's where Emma is the best. Like Wolverine before her, she is a character the reader is allowed to see as bad, because she's already been there. She's been really, really evil. But she's also allowed to be good, because she does love Cyclops and she does want nothing less than to save the world from itself. Her nearly tangible grief for her dead students fuels the rage underneath her cold exterior. This tightrope personality makes for great drama, and in turn, gives us one of the most interesting and conflicted X-Men characters out there.
Sexy, Dry-Witted Women: Emma Peel from The Avengers.
Buy Books Featuring Emma Here!: Astonishing X-Men: Emma Frost, Vol. 1 - Higher Learning, New X-Men, Vol. 1, Astonishing X-Men Omnibus, X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga, and Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia.