Friday, May 23, 2014

CBR Emma Frost

Let's keep it X-Men-related, since I enjoyed the new film quite a lot.

Here's the super-gal with no taste in clothing, long before she actually went into that lingerie evil path...

More X-Men reviews below!

Comic title: Emma Frost Ultimate Collection 
Art by Randy Green, Carlo Pagulayan, Ariana Melo & Will Conrad
Written by Karl Bollers 

Published by Marvel Comics
From 2011
Lineup Marvel Universe/X-Men series
Format: Trade paperback collecting Emma Frost #1-18.

You don't get as 2-dimensional a character as Emma Frost.

Originally the villainess White Queen from the Hellfire Club. An evil mutant telepath to oppose Charles Xavier & Jean Grey. Created by long-time X-Men writer Chris Claremont and John Byrne. She started a villain to much fan enthusiasm to now being one of the core X-Men member and one of their team leaders.

So how could they exactly make a whole on-going series out of such a character?

Simple. By simply exploring her origins, since there wasn't much there to begin with (apart from a couple of hints here and there, which the creative team got to expand and build upon what little was known around her).

The self-titled Emma Frost series was launched in 2003, penned by writer Karl Bollers.

This on-going series told Emma's origins and only lasted for 18 issues of the planned longer series. Here collected in its entirely for the first time.

Basically said, this series covered three main story arcs.

It all started in her childhood years in "Higher Learning ", long before ever joining the Hellfire Club.

Emma grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, born into a wealthy family. Her parents are the cold paternal figure of  Winston and Hazel Frost, at the head of one of the biggest fortunes in the country. She doesn't get any support from them. Emma also was the third of four children. She has this older meaner bimbo of a sister Adrienne Frost (who would grow up to become a powerful mutant herself, having the ability to read into objects' surrounding, past, present and future - knowing that in advance, it is sort of hinted in the story, but never actually referred to). And a younger goth sister Cordelia. But at least she's always been pretty close to her gay brother Christian (although he doesn't confess as much to her, Emma only really ever finding out about his orientation thanks to her latent mutant ability). Emma attends a private school, is bullied there, when suddenly her telepathic powers start to manifest! She gets close to a teacher she has a crush on, Ian Kendall. Emma become a tutor. Kisses Ian, which her father tapes to blackmail the teach out of his job. She is finally offered the position as heir to the Frost family fortune, but she decides to run away from this life she came to despise so much.

Emma becomes homeless for a while. In "Mind Games" while getting a hang of her strange "abilities", Emma meets a young man named Troy. Troy invites her to live with him. But soon the romance leaves way for tension, having a lot of money problems some crooks get after our little couple. Turns out Troy had a lot of debts to this local tyrant named Lucien. Emma uses her powers to steal a lot of money from Casinos. And it works... for a while. But Lucien soon starts asking for even more money. They decided to stage a fake kidnapping to ask a ransom to the Frosts. Winston Frost obviously doesn't fall for it and simply ignores it. The thugs kill Troy. Emma is forced to finally master her abilities to use her powers on the criminals. She gets situation out of control, ending in a bloodbath as the thugs kill one another...

Finally in "Bloom Part ", some time has passed since then. She now has decided to use the money she was able to escape with to enroll herself into the Empire State University. She finally learns about the whole mutants phenomenon on the Campus, which she was able to avoid until now (despite a little cameo/allusion on TV screens in the background) - the story taking place alongside the original X-Men comics). Emma starts having some problem with her roommate, who she finds out telepathically is actually dating Ian, her old school crush. She finds a new friend in the form of another fellow telepath, Astrid Bloom. They communicate "telepathically" at school, but Emma is never truly able to read Astrid. Astrid helps her develop her powers... but has only really been manipulating Emma and the people around her all along! Astrid finally lets her guard down while bringing Emma's consciousness into hers to trap her inside her mind...  Emma is then able to get a peak at her entire life and learns her entire mastery of these psychic powers while leaving Astrid comatose behind...

Emma would later be invited into Sebastian Shaw's Hellfire Club where she would finally battle the infamous X-Men years later as she was trying to recruit Shadowcat into their ranks...

To be honest I have never been much familiar or a fan of the character of Emma Frost. But with former Marvel editor Karl Bollers on board the series, from start to finish, it looked like a fairly cohesive series for its entire run. And it was.

The story itself is pretty interesting, and kind of sad for Emma. Being much of a product of her environment, before she finally joined the X-Men and was able to realize part of her dream of being a teacher.

Growing up in a very dysfunctional family, the troubles she goes through growing up, making her a very much relatable protagonist.

It's also nice to have an X-Men comic being very much true to the dramatic "soap opera" format they originally started as under Stan Lee.

The art is sort of all over the place, kind of uneven. But overall decent enough, with Carlo Pagulayan's segments being the stand out amongst the rest.

It's a coming of age story, in the mutant-side of the Marvel Universe. All this before Emma ever joined the bad guys' ranks, leaving home for High School on her own. The plan was to actually cover her time until her first appearance as the White Queen but the book was sadly canceled before it came to that.

Despite the storyline never been properly followed upon to its intended conclusion, Emma Frost would then end up meeting more mutants (mentioned in Generation X) before becoming a stripper (!!) at the Hellfire Club and then rising through the ranks to the White Queen status.

My only real complaint? The awful Playboy-traced covers by Greg Horn. Which I'm sure posed a lot of problem at the time, showing an older more "mature" Emma Frost and not having a single thing to do with these issues... In fact, that's probably way he was no doubt forced to tone it down and drastically take another direction for the later second half of the series, more closely matching the series.

Overall, it was pretty good and actually kind of fun.

This massive "Ultimate Collection" collects the entire run of this short-lived Emma Frost series.

We finally get to see how Emma discovered her psychic powers.

It is maybe less action-oriented than usual X-Men comics. But it's a great story.

The covers are really detracting though, while I'm fine with pin-up portraits usually, these covers just feels so disconnected from the main story... And can almost drive away some potential readers I imagine.

This book proved a great introduction to X-Men titles and the character of Emma Frost. What would become a fun villain able to prove herself a pain in the ass of the X-Men and Charles Xavier himself for quite a while!.

If I found the stories perfectly fine for young and female audiences, their "mature" tone really detracted from the entire experience.

Anyways, great storylines, very enjoyable adventures through Emma Frost's teenage years, great character development. It's not as sudden path towards evil as you'd expect. Check it out! 

I give it:
2 / 3 Howards!

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