Uncanny X-Men: Diamond in the Rough

Matt Fraction discusses his love for Emma Frost.

By Kevin Mahadeo

Her signature thigh-high white boots and bustier first caught Matt Fraction’s attention. To this day, the UNCANNY X-MEN writer remembers the striking image by artist Art Adams of the White Queen grinning wickedly gracing the cover of NEW MUTANTS #39. However, it didn’t take Fraction long to see past Emma Frost’s admittedly alluring outfit and fall in love with the character underneath.

“She was somewhat complicated as a villain,” says Fraction. “She wasn’t Arcade. She wasn’t Nimrod. There was an agenda that I liked. There was more to her than just, ‘I’m going to kill mutants.’ She was shades of gray. It was hard to disagree with her all the time. You can disagree with her means, but with her goal you understood where she was coming from and why she was going it.”

Since her original appearance in UNCANNY X-MEN #129, Emma Frost has journeyed across the moral chessboard from villain to teacher to current leader of the X-Men alongside Cyclops. Her icy demeanor and questionable methods often lead to mistrust from her fellow heroes and readers alike. But Fraction says he always saw the character less as “super villain villainous” and more as someone headstrong and resilient in her goal to protect and train new mutants.

“That’s always been her mission,” emphasizes the writer. “Sometimes that puts her on the side of the X-Men and sometimes that puts her in direct opposition to them, but that’s always been her ends. Her means have always been weird. For me, that’s always been a consistent through line of who she is and what her character is. She is, much like Xavier, pretty singular in her mission. It’s just how she’s gone about accomplishing it that has evolved.”

As always, the past shapes the present. After multiple stints as a mentor figure-from leader of the Hellions to co-founder of Generation X-Emma now finds herself as the headmistress of an entire race. Fraction says he has a lot of fun writing the character, especially when it comes to her somewhat abrasive and cynical personality.

“She’s like [the lead character from the television show 'House'] or something,” he offers with a laugh. “She’s a jerk, but she’s on the side of angels at the end of the day. Although, she’s not really a jerk. She just doesn’t suffer fools gladly and considers pretty much the entire world to be full of fools.”

In the upcoming UNCANNY X-MEN #518, due in stores December 3, Fraction explores Emma’s inner psyche as Cyclops journeys into her mind to free his love from the Void. Fraction admits that when shaping Emma’s mental reality he took a page from director Federico Fellini. Artist Terry Dodson even slightly alters Cyclops’ hair in the upcoming issue to make him look more like actor Marcello Mastroianni, who starred in Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita.” Fraction also says that the upcoming issue plays a bit like the b-side to UNCANNY #504, which featured a similar psychic walkabout.

“This is very much a trip into Emma’s mind as much as Emma went into Scott’s mind,” he explains. “It’s a psychic rescue. She’s cut off from her empathy and sympathy. It’s made her cold and distant and this is a time in Scott’s life where he needs her. He needs his partner. They need Emma back as a power set. They need their world-class psychic back. So, there’s essential stuff, but emotionally, Scott needs his girlfriend back.”

The Scott and Emma relationship serves as another enjoyable aspect of the title for Fraction. The two characters began their romance during Grant Morrison’s NEW X-MEN run and have since become one of the most rock solid couples in the Marvel Universe.

Jean [Grey] was the great love of Scott’s youth,” contends Fraction. “Emma is the love of his life. She brings out the best in him and he brings out the best in her. They work really well together. Between the two of them, you’ve got the perfect person. I love the way they function together. I love the way they bounce off each other. It strikes me as a really adult relationship. It’s chance to really have fun doing a somewhat mature relationship-as much as you can describe a relationship as mature in which people wear ridiculous costumes and shoot rays out of their face.”

SOURCE: Marvel – Uncanny X-Men: Diamond in the Rough