After a disappointing start X-Men Black, has seen some great issues. Mojo was a funny rom com and Mystique was a cool hostage rescue story, while Juggernaut took a standard story and made it interesting. Emma Frost is a fan favorite character and the announcement that she would get her own X-Men Black one shot was met with excitement. Does the issue live up to the hype?
The running theme of X-Men Black has been that the limited series is all about its stars. This is what made Magneto so disappointing and Mystique so exciting. Mojo and Juggernaut were seemingly uninteresting books that were carried by the stellar leads. Emma Frost is a multi layered and interesting character, so a comic book starring her seems like it would be intriguing by default.
Thankfully, writer Leah Williams ensures the title lives up to its potential. The opening sees Emma meet with the X-Men and lays out the premises for the issue. This brief segment lets readers know what kind of person Emma is through what she says and what others say about her. In only a few pages, Williams is able to let newer readers know who Emma Frost is.
Initially, it may be hard to read the book without some apprehension. There is nothing wrong with the X-Men, however, this is a book about Emma Frost. The risk of one of Marvel’s most iconic teams taking over the supposed main character is too high. Thankfully, this never happens and the X-Men are nice additions to the story that never threaten to take it over. Williams makes sure that this book is about Emma.
Emma Frost follows a formula that is similar to Mystique. The White Queen has come to the conclusion that the Hellfire Club is responsible for the majority of the strife between mutants and humans. In her mind, the only rational decision is to destroy the Club. This requires confronting the Black King, Sebastian Shaw. The story is more straightforward than would be expected but still very enjoyable.
The majority of the issue focuses on Emma as she infiltrates the Hellfire Club. This is depicted in a series of escalating scenes that are simultaneously funny and frightening. Emma is seen in her full magnificence as she easily makes her way to the penthouse of the headquarters. It’s as amusing as it is chilling to see her get past the Club’s formidable security with little more than a word.
Her final confrontation with Shaw is the issue’s greatest strength and weakness. After everything Emma goes through, the finale almost seems too neat. There is a vicious battle, but it seems to end a little too quickly. The climatic battle is great, however. Emma gives a great monologue that manages to get across how strong of a character she is. Make no mistake: this is not about a woman showing she can succeed in a male-dominated world — this is a story about a person who everyone should fear and respect.
Chris Bachalo’s art starts off a little rough. The lines on the characters’ faces look a little sharp and they seem to alternate between looking very young and very old from panel to panel. It does not take him long to get a feel for the characters, though. Emma is not just a powerful character; she is a regal one. Bachalo makes her look glorious, especially in the closing pages.
Starring Apocalypse, the ‘Degeneration’ backstory of X-Men Black has been interesting. The first part got off to a great start that engaged readers. The rest of the story has had its share of action but has really been more of a character study. The final part of the story is no different. There is action, however this is definitely more about about the egotistical Apocalypse and what he has planned. Fittingly, the chapter and entire story end with questions. There is certainly a sense of impending doom but for some, the question will be more of a “that’s it?” than a “now what?” Still, it will be interesting to see where this all leads.
X-Men Black: Emma Frost is a great ending to the series of one shots. The story is exciting and filled with a dark humor that highlights just how great of a character Emma is. The ‘Degeneration’ back story was more about setting up something and will leave readers wanting more. Fans of Emma Frost and the X-Men need to get this book.