Warning: This article contains massive spoilers for Powers of X #5 by Jonathan Hickman, R.B. Silva, Marte Gracia, VC's Clayton Cowles and Tom Muller, on sale now.
Emma Frost has one of the most distinct arcs of any character within the X-Men corner of the Marvel Universe. She's been a villain, a hero, a misfit, a leader, and an outcast. But throughout it all, she's been defined by her surprising affinity for mentoring and protecting young mutants. It's proven to be a core piece of the character, and something that she seemingly lost sight of.
However, Powers of X #5 changes that and subtly reasserts the protection of young people as one of the core tenets of her character. Somewhat fittingly, all of this comes to the fore when Emma is approached about the perfect way to use her skills as the White Queen for the benefit of the future of mutants.
Becoming An Educator
Emma first appeared as the White Queen, one of the diabolical members of the Hellfire Club's Inner Circle. But after becoming the reluctant mentor to the Hellions, she discovered an unlikely passion for teaching. When the Hellions were killed, Emma blamed herself and was eventually taken in by the X-Men. She became an instructor with X-trainee team Generation X and survived the destruction of Genosha before formally moving to the Xavier Institute full-time in New X-Men.
For over a decade, Emma was defined more by her dedication to the next generation of mutants than she was to anything else. While she didn't necessarily reform and still had many of her darker impulses, they were tempered by the people and students in her life. She became an X-Man because she believed in their cause, if not their morality.
Following the events of Avengers vs. X-Men however, Emma went on the run alongside Cyclops and his team of renegade X-Men. While she taught a handful of young mutants who were found and recruited by the team, she became much more focused on her relationship with Cyclops and the darker path they walked.
When Cyclops died as a result of the M-Pox plague, she snapped and concocted a plan that pushed the X-Men and the Inhumans into open conflict. Leaving the X-Men and seemingly returning to her old villainous ways, Emma worked with the HYDRA-aligned version of Steve Rogers in Secret Empire. She eventually helped stop Rogers and even brought down Sebastian Shaw, becoming the new Black Queen and announcing her intentions to work separate from the X-Men and their students.
Plans For The Future
Both the teacher and the mastermind in Emma were on display in the latest issue of Powers of X. Charles Xavier and Magneto come to visit her in the Lourve to discuss their plans for Krakoa and the expanding new home for mutants. Her first instinct when approached about the idea is to walk up straight to Magneto and remind him what happened in Genosha.
The trauma she got from that experience has played a role in her development ever since, inspiring her to try harder for her students while still reinforcing her trepidation about humanity. But upon discovering the full extent of their plan, and potentially, the chance to bring back all the students she'd lost over the years, Emma agreed to work with the X-Men again.
Emma's role is revealed to be central to the future of the X-Men. The life-changing drugs being produced by Krakoa will serve as a means of achieving peace with the established human governments. To distribute them easily around the world, Xavier requires someone with international business reach.
Having just taken control of the Hellfire Club (and by extension the Hellfire Corporation,) Emma is in the perfect place to transport the drugs around the world. However, she's forced to work once again with Sebastian Shaw. While Emma will be the "face" of the corporation, Shaw will become the "black-books" agent who can perform deals under the table with countries that don't recognize Krakoa's sovereignty. In exchange for her help, Emma ends up with a 50-year exclusive deal to be the only source distributor of the Krakoa drugs as well as three seats on the Quiet Council of Krakoa, the early government established for the new nation.
The White Queen
Many characters within the X-Men corner of the Marvel Universe are reformed in some way. Some made mistakes in their past, while others were outright villains when they were younger. Emma has gone from one of the team's fiercest enemies to the team to one of their most dedicated members. It's especially fascinating to see how her growth has been spurred on by her commitment to make things better for her students. She acts out to protect them and show them the way the world works. Even when she was on the run, she made sure to try and teach young people if they were willing to listen to her.
But following Inhumans vs. X-Men, she'd largely reverted to being a vampy villainess who stood opposed to the other mutant factions and wanted her own goals. She became more fixated on the loss of Scott than on the loss of her students, ignoring years of development in the process. She returned to her original White Queen ways, losing the element that had forced her through so much growth in the first place.
Now, Emma is being asked to embrace that ruthless ruler side of herself, but towards a cause she can fight for. It's telling that before she agrees to help Xavier and Magneto, she makes note that she's doing this "for the children." Even if she isn't the headmistress of a school or teaching a class, being a mentor and protector for young people has become her primary drive. And if she can finally use her skills within the Hellfire Club to help them, then that's what she'll do. It allows future X-Men stories to have the best of both worlds, a White Queen who deeply cares about the future and wants to shape it from the center of future X-Men titles.