Emma Frost #6

Issue Date: 
February 2004
Story Title: 
Higher Learning - part 6

Karl Bollers (writer), Randy Green (penciler), Rick Ketcham (inker), Pete Pantazis (colorist), Cory Petit (letterer), Greg Horn (cover artist), Cory Sedlmeier & Stephanie Moore (assistant editors), Mike Marts (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

At the hospital, Winston Frost is more concerned with the adverse publicity his son’s suicide attempt will bring than his actual condition. Emma blames him for everything and tells him, in no uncertain terms, that she hates him. She visits Christian in his room and is upset when she reads in his thoughts that he actually believes the world would be better off without him. Arrangements are made for a party that Winston is hosting and, while Hazel takes a break, Emma talks with Adrienne, who hints that their mother is taking drugs since her seizure. Emma checks out her bathroom cabinet and finds shelves full of pill bottles. She then visits Christian, who is now back at home, and finds him high on drugs. Not him too, thinks Emma. She confronts Cordelia, who she suspects of supplying him the drugs, and she informs Emma that she only did it because he hounded her. At Winston’s party, Winston and Emma chat and it appears that Winston has chilled a little and plans to make an announcement. Once the guests have departed, he decides to name the heir to his business throne and Emma is surprised to discover that it’s her. Before she can speak, three men arrive from a mental institution and take Christian away. Emma is furious, because she believed her father was going to care for him and, in a rage, she turns down his offer, leaves the mansion and heads into Boston to begin a new life.

Full Summary: 

(New England Hospital, Boston, 12.07am)

Following Christian’s suicide attempt, Hazel Frost and her three daughters eagerly await news on his condition. Emma is worried about him. Her older sister, Adrienne, makes an attempt at an apology for causing this and, although Emma doesn’t know if she’s lying, as she is unable to read her thoughts, she doesn’t care either. Their father arrives and asks who found him, to which Emma replies that she did. “Called 911?” asks her father. That would be Emma too. “And did you phone Geraldo while you were at it, Emma?!”

Through the doorway comes Dr. Raines, who informs Mr. and Mrs. Frost that their son is in a stable condition. Winston says he needs to speak with his chief of staff, now, but the doctor hasn’t finished. Winston doesn’t want to listen to what the doctor has to say; Christian brought this upon himself and he is more concerned with Emma’s actions in making all of this public. He wants the doctor’s boss on the phone before it ends up on the front page of tomorrow’s Herald. Hazel asks if they could see Christian in the meantime, but Winston refuses her request. Emma says it was a free country last she checked and she can see her brother if she wants to. Winston grabs her by the arm and orders Bryce to remove her, by force if he has to. Emma struggles as Bryce apologizes for his duty. As she is carried away, Emma shouts back at her father how it’s his fault that Christian hurt himself, his fault he tried to commit suicide. He did this, yet he feels no remorse whatsoever. “I hate you!”

(Frost House, the following Tuesday)

Christian lies in a hospital bed, watching Surreal TV on television. They are showing video footage taken by an amateur of a group of bizarrely uniformed teens exhibiting fantastic powers. An elaborately staged hoax perpetrated by FX wizardry? Or the real deal? The youths on television are the X-Men, a new group of teenaged super-heroes. Emma pops her head into Christian’s room and asks if she can come in. She’s been to the bookstore and picked up the latest by a Tibetan author he likes. He clicks off the television and asks her to put it down anywhere. His neck has a rope burn all the way round and he looks tired. He asks if Winston is finally allowing him to have any visitors, as he thinks his father is past the point of actually caring. Emma replies that he is more concerned with some ridiculous party he’s hosting in a couple of weeks. She asks Christian if he came to see him. “No. Must be some bash,” Christian replies. There is a pause, as Emma can’t thinks of an appropriate response.

Christian tells Emma that the doctor told him it was she who found him and says he’s sorry she had to see him like that. Tears well up in Emma’s eyes and she tells him not to apologize. She’s just glad she found him, but she asks why he did it. She needs his words to make more sense than what she’s hearing in his thoughts. He replies that he just wanted to be in control of his life, just once. In his thoughts, he adds that she should have let him die; they’d all have been better off. Emma turns as Christian rolls onto his side and runs from his room, passing Cordelia on the way. He really believed what he said, thinks Emma.

(Two weeks later)

A party planner called Janice is arranging the furniture and has two removal men bring in a Rosler grand piano, which will bring the perfect Old World aesthetic to play off her sitting room’s colonial ambiance. Europe is in. Adrienne relishes in giving the men orders as Emma appears, more concerned with her mother’s health than the room’s aesthetics. She asks her how she is, as she looks exhausted, and offers to help in any way. Hazel heads for the couch and asks if she and her sister could deal with a delivery from the florist out back, while she takes a break.

The two sisters wander through the house towards the rear and chat on the way. Adrienne asks Emma what she’s up to and why she’s so hot to help with daddy’s soiree all of a sudden. Emma won’t tell her, but says that her sister’s probably thinking whether this is an attempt to get back in daddy’s good graces. That’s Adrienne’s reason for helping out, isn’t it? Adrienne says so what if it is. She’s made her fair share of mistakes but she knows it’s not too late to repair the damage. She says that Emma shouldn’t envy her because she’s on better terms with their father and that, by trying to show her loyalty this late in the game, isn’t going to help. Maybe, she adds, if Emma wasn’t fighting back and opposing his every decision, she’d stand something resembling a chance. Emma insists that she doesn’t give a whisker about daddy; she’s just trying to help her mother.

Adrienne makes a remark about her mother’s medicinal intake and so Emma heads upstairs to see what’s in her medicine cabinet. The bathroom is private and she doesn’t really need to add snooping to her rap sheet, but she has to know. She opens the cabinet and finds that it resembles a miniature pharmacy, with a variety of pill bottles on every shelf.

(The next day)

Emma enters Christian’s bedroom and is surprised at his condition, finding him looking dazed and inarticulate, and she asks him if he’s high. He gets to his feet but stumbles, as he asks why she would think that? As he walks uncertainly towards her, in his mind she sees a spoon, a hypodermic needle and the drugs he has taken. “Because you sound funny and you can’t walk,” she replies. He points his finger at her and smiles, saying she was always the perceptive one in the family. She’s got him and there’ll be no more secrets between them. “I confess.” Emma looks horrified. Not you too, she thinks. He falls backwards onto the bed, as Emma reaches out to him. She asks him who gave it to him. He couldn’t have gotten it himself, as daddy’s taken away his car and everything stockpiled in mom’s cabinet is prescribed. She suddenly realizes who the culprit is.

Elsewhere in the house, Cordelia is listening to music on her headphones. Emma walks into her room and turns the volume up sharply. “What is your mental trauma, Emma?” she asks. She replies that she is just trying to get rid of the inch-thick layer of earwax that prevents all sense from penetrating her brain. They argue about why she gave Christian the drugs and she tells Emma that the only reason she did it is because he wouldn’t stop hounding her. Even she isn’t crazy enough to do that stuff and, if it’s such a problem, why not tell daddy? Emma knows she’s actually telling the truth but also that she can’t tell daddy.

(The following evening)

Winston’s party is in full swing. Emma is present but looks like she’d rather be anywhere else. Cordelia has shaved her hair and is wearing her faux punk outfit to attract attention, while Adrienne impresses the gentlemen in the crowd without making much effort at all. Christian is suited up and wearing a beret, out of it on the couch while, around him, serving staff offer drinks to the guests. Emma wanders over to Christian and asks if she can have a word. She wants to speak with him in private but he is wasted and doesn’t take the hint. She asks him if he’s out of his mind; what if daddy finds out? He replies by asking if she’s worried about her big bro tarnishing the family image, again, but she doesn’t care about that. She only cares about Christian, and she tells him that she loves him. He leans forward and puts his arms around her. “I love you too Em,” but he stands and adds, “But you are one serious buzz-kill! So skip the after-school special-style intervention ‘cause I’m good.” He doesn’t need her help. As he walks away, Emma is worried that she can’t reach him; he’s slipping away.

She turns to her father and tells him that she needs him. After a brief explanation, Winston stands with his hands in his pockets and speaks to Emma as an adult for a change, probably saying more than he has in a long time. He is pleased that she has decided to trust him. He knows that they haven’t always seen eye to eye but, recently, Emma has managed to see through so many of his lies. “Here I was, thinking you were just the spineless one in the middle,” he continues, but he actually respects her for her recent actions, such as photographing he and Vivienne in France, or hiding Christian out at his lover’s apartment. The fact that he saw through her novice-like schemes makes no difference; she reminds him of himself when he was her age. Emma is amazed to discover, through reading his mind, that he actually means every word. She asks about Christian and he tells her that, though they’re far from perfect, they are still a family and he will see to it that he receives immediate care. He then asks her to go wait in the sitting room with the rest of the family. Tonight’s festivities have put him in a good mood and he as an important announcement to make.


Winston stands before his gathered family. The party guests have departed and he begins his speech. He starts by announcing that he knows that he is wasting his time with Christian, so he’ll see how the remaining heirs to the throne live up to his expectations. Which of them can he trust to steer their fortunes safely into the future? Will it be Cordelia? he asks. Should he pass his kingdom into her subtle, dark and devious hands? Should it be Adrienne? Heartless, brilliant Adrienne, who seems the obvious choice. But then, there’s Emma, little rebellious Emma. He holds his hand out and repeats her name. “Emma, yes.” Emma can’t believe he is actually choosing her.

The moment is disturbed by three men, who enter the room and ask Winston to sign some waivers. As he takes the forms, Emma asks who they are and he replies that they’re from the Snow Valley Pavilion for the Mentally Disturbed, making a pick-up. Emma stands as the two assistants take hold of Christian. “No,” cries Emma, “I thought you were going to send Christian to rehab, not a mental institution!” Her father looks at her, stone-faced, and says that he has changed his mind. As Christian is led away, he looks up in his weary state and asks Emma why she did this, why? Emma turns her head and thinks that it’s because she’s an idiot who should have known better. Never again. She turns on her father, telling Winston that she wants no part of the family fortune. She’ll make her own way. She throws on a coat, leaves Frost House and heads to Boston. ‘Think I can’t….Try me!’

Characters Involved: 

Emma Frost

Hazel and Winston Frost

Adrienne, Christian and Cordelia Frost

Dr. Raines



Removal men

Party guests

Frost House servants

Doctor and two assistants from Snow Valley Pavilion for the Mentally Disturbed

Boston locals

(on television)

Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman and Marvel Girl (as the X-Men)

Story Notes: 

Geraldo Rivera is a celebrated American talk show host.

The scene depicting Winston choosing an heir to the company was shown in New X-Men #139, as Jean Grey-Summers trawled through Emma’s memories. The wording is different and there are some minor cosmetic changes but then these are Emma’s memories.

Back in Generation X #24, Emma told the kids a tale about her past life, about her being locked in mental institute after hearing voices in her head. She repeated this story to Banshee in Generation X #24 but it is fairly clear now that these were fabrications; a twisting of the truth and it was, in fact, Christian, who was sent there, not Emma, as shown in New X-Men #139.

Christian’s comment about “after-school special” refers to the series of made-for-TV movies that were aired by the major networks in the 1980s. They were aimed at children and teens and invariably taught a lesson about life and growing up. Lessons included teen pregnancy, drug use and delinquency. As they were aired around 4 PM, generally a few hours after school ended, they were labelled “After-School Specials.”

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