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Emma Frost: I only sort of get it

July 13, 2009

So I broke down and bought the last Emma Frost manga-sized trade because I’m a completionist and I found it for half-price while I was in Texas.  (Dear Half-Price Books, please come to New Jersey.)  Taken all together, these books do a decent job of cataloging Emma Frost’s background story, but there’s something missing.  I think in part it was that the stories are “for 12 and up.”  Really?  Really?  Homosexuality, drugs, murder, macking on teachers…I mean, I finally gave in after my daughter asking for like two years and let her read them because, despite the content, it’s a pretty tame book.  But it shouldn’t have been.  It’s all there, and the first book is really good, but they never up the stakes, because they’re working within PG-13 format.

It’s hard to have a character like Emma Frost, I think.  Marvel only gets so dark, especially in X-Men.   They basically get as dark as “we killed someone!” or, in a really shady decade, “I think she was a prostitute once!”  Clutch your pearls, Mabel, Marvel’s being “gritty.”

The thing is, Emma’s best story is the one where she’s struggling against her father’s power and influence, and that’s arc is done in the first book, so where do you go?  The end’s supposed to tell you that Emma’s lost “everything,” but…eh.  It has to move too fast to do what it does.  Then again, I feel that way a lot of the time the first time I read something.  Needs a reread, but I think it’ll be a while before I go back to it.

Now, up the stakes.  Write another series.  Heck, I’d even be okay with Bollers writing it.  (I don’t mean to sound so down on him.  I’m not.  But I’m not sure he built up the character enough for me to feel like oh, hey, there’s Emma, especially in the second and third arcs.)  Move it into R territory, because where else can it go?  Emma’s got nothing, so what can she do?  How did she get from college to her school to the Hellfire Club?  Even if those events are catalogued, Emma’s emotional journey isn’t.  And that’s what I was hoping for–to find how Emma became The White Queen, cold as ice, wearing that ridiculous get-up.  When does she get her implants?  For some reason, she’s got big boobs in the third book, but what the hell?  Did she buy them with the money from the end of the second book?  Why would she spend it there, then?  Are we to believe she hit puberty realllllly late?

Too many questions, not enough answers.  Not enough EMMA.

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