This is the story of a woman who both lost and found herself…
Emma, as a young woman, nervously peers through a curtain, then walks on the stage of the Hellfire Cabaret, dressed up as an ice princess stripper.
Think of it as a sort of fairy tale… a parable… Your lurid celebrity story of the week.
Without much skill, she parades around on the stage, boring the audience who finally boo and jeer, shouting at her to take off her clothes. She’s trying the best she can, she mutters, then screams and attacks the men telepathically.
But whatever you do, whatever judgment you care to make, please understand one thing… I tried the best I could.
Calling them cretins, she shouts, are they actually looking for talent? They’ve got a girl covered in honey backstage who can do the Lambeth Walk with a boa constrictor. Maybe that will satisfy their need for culture!
Feeling her humiliation, she recalls how this scene has happened again and again, recalls a similar scene at school when she was humiliated and lashed out telepathically, shouting why there were doing that to her. It was never her intention though. All she ever really wanted to do was help. All she ever wanted to do was teach.
Emma as a young girl (still a brunette) plays teacher. Her dolls and stuffed toys are lined up as her class to whom she is reading one of her favorite stories: “Sleeping Beauty.” The fairy tale is interrupted by her father, who angrily berates her for playing her fantasy games with her dolls. A perfect recipe for a feeble mind and underachievement, he scoffs. Certainly not worthy of a Frost. He slaps her toys aside. Does she think she can wait until she is an adult, to get serious about life and a career? Does she think she’ll be able to just coast along on Daddy’s money till she finds herself? He viciously steps on a doll’s head. He doesn’t indulge laziness or failure. The only way to make it in this world is to work hard and be the absolute best. He grabs Emma’s face. Perhaps she ought to spend more time learning how to look pretty like her sister Adrienne or else cease her foolish play and decide to become something more than a simpering bucktoothed pansy! He leaves and a dejected Emma stares at her broken dolls.
She walks to her elegant mother who is pouring herself a drink and reveals father’s been cross with her again. It made her feel really bad. It’s just his way, her mother sighs. She’ll just learn to deal with it after a while. But he picks on her more than anyone here, Emma complains. She keeps trying but he’s always cross with her anyway. He hates her, she sobs. Trying to comfort her, her mother reveals a secret: her father seems so very cruel to her because he actually loves her the most.
A teenage Emma (fighting with acne) sits in class, reading a vampire novel. Her teacher Miss Collier calls her out about her term paper. The other girls make fun of her and her looks. Emma tries to ignore their vicious taunts as Miss Collier announces her paper was wonderful.
Later at dinner, Emma happily announces that Miss Collier wants her to read the paper for the entire assembly of ninth graders. She thinks it would teach them a good lesson about civics and the love of learning. Predictably, her father is not impressed. Does she think reading some sentimental pap to a room full of children is supposed to be an achievement?
Here they go again, one of Emma’s sisters mutters. Emma speaks up: she won’t let him discourage her this time. She can do this and do it well! It will be a triumph! Whether she succeeds or fails in this pathetic venture is of no consequence, he points out. If she fails, they will mock her. If she succeeds, they will be jealous of her and seek to tear her down. The only goal worth seeking is not the approval of others, but power over them. Emma calls him a heartless monster. He is a Frost and so is she, he reminds her. Emma gets up. She doesn’t want to be a Frost. She wants to be like everyone else! She will never be like everyone else, he spells out for her. Her money her family, her very DNA set her apart! There is no hope for some utopian existence she has cooked up in her fancies. Gain as much power as possible and use it! That is the only way for her kind!
On the stairs, Emma experiences another migraine attack that happen more and more often when she gets upset.
The scenery shifts. Two girls at school tell her to wait up and praise her for the speech she is doing later that day. While one of them wishes her luck, the other secretly exchanges the sheets with the speech from Emma’s rucksack.
Later, Emma stands in front of the girls, beginning her speech. Instead of her notes, she finds a note saying “Emma Frost is a flat-chested zit-faced nerd who has to get her father to buy her a boyfriend.”
The two girls laugh. Why did they do this to her? Emma shouts, her migraine accelerating and, suddenly, she telepathically hits everyone in the room, in the whole school even, sickening and stunning everyone. When she hears the EMS and police coming into the auditorium, Emma pretends to be unconscious as well.
However, she didn’t fool everyone, for some time later Professor Charles Xavier and Dr. Moira MacTaggert are at the Frosts’ door, speaking to Emma’s father. In her room, Emma wonders if they are cops or from the FBI. She figures she’s in trouble. Do they know?
A mental voice tells her they do know but she is not in trouble. Xavier telepathically asks her not to be afraid. He is a telepath like her. A mutant like her. Emma storms out of her room and eavesdrops on the conversation between the adults.
Xavier telepathically explains that he has a school for children like her. Mutant children. Gifted children like her. And her father is currently turning his offer down.
Frost gets up agitated. A stranger presumes to know his child better than he?
It doesn’t need to be this way, Xavier telepathically tells Emma. She has an incredible amount of power inside her. But that power needs training. Honing. And with that he can help her. She knows enough of how their power works to know that he can change her father’s mind. He can show him the error of his ways…
Don’t touch her father! Emma shouts out loud and strides downstairs. She tells Xavier he doesn’t know her father and doesn’t know her family! She doesn’t want to go to his stupid school! If that’s what she wants, Xavier admits defeated. Frost steps between Xavier and Emma, announcing it’s what he wants. He orders Xavier and Moira to leave, and they do.
Father and daughter look after them, then he strikes her in the face. How dare she eavesdrop on him? That moment, she thinks about burning his mind out, leaving him a vegetable. But how is that any different from what he would do? Instead, she apologizes and smiles, deciding to leave. To live with her father would have led her to be like her father and that was something she could not do.
And where did it get her? Starving in New York City. Her life skills nil, reduced to a stripper, sitting in her wardrobe after the debacle on stage. Suddenly, the door bursts open and a middle-aged man in 18th century costume comes stalking in, angrily berating her for scampering about his brain. He’s not one of her helpless Hellfire buffoons! Don’t ever enter his mind without his permission! Angrily, he smashes her face against the table.
At that moment, something snaps inside Emma and she attacks him telepathically, threatening to kill him. The man is thrown backward, then congratulates her. The full extent of her power has exceeded his hopes. What the hell is he talking about? she demands. He calls Emma a diamond in the rough. Still a bit hesitant and awkward, but just waiting for the right man to… He kisses her. And after some hesitation, Emma responds.
The man’s name is Sebastian Shaw, a bigwig at the Hellfire Club. Of course he has plan, namely for them to take over the world together… Shaw makes Emma his White Queen and while she has the power it is Shaw who gives her direction. They rid the Hellfire Club of those who would threaten mutants and install themselves as the Club’s Black King and White Queen.
Emma gains money, power, attention; the things she should have been working toward all those many years of insecurity. Together there is nothing they cannot do and they do it all… Like taking a crew of innocent, young partygoers to a bondage party and scaring the hell out of them.
Pensive, Shaw brings up the point that anti-mutant sentiment is growing. And there are too many mutant groups like the simpering X-Men who threaten the Hellfire Club’s authority. They need something more than those dullards they call guard and soldiers. They need mutants. And they need them young while their minds and wills are still pliable. Emma suggests a perfect solution, a school! And what? he mocks. She’ll be the prim headmistress then? Wear her hair up in a bun?
That’s precisely what Emma does as she founds the Massachusetts Academy and gathers her class of mutant students, the Hellions. Only teaching is giving her a sense of satisfaction, she finds, considering the children her legacy, and she takes her job very seriously.
During a training session she berates Empath for not doing anything while some of the others – Jetstream and Catseye – laugh at him. Empath points out stuttering he is only good as a PSI. He’s not fast or strong enough. Excuses don’t cut it! she tells him cuttingly. Now get the hell out of the way and let his classmates continue! He’s pathetic! Crying, he runs away.
Afterwards, the other two ask if he is okay. Did mean Miss Frost make him cry? “Cry?” he asks and begins to manipulate them into kissing each other, then hitting each other. He’s more powerful than all of them put together, he shouts at them. Remember that! He can make them do what he wants!
And just like that, Emma figures, her tutelage worked. She suddenly believes to see her father before her and realizes she is truly her father’s daughter. Perhaps if she’d accepted Xavier’s offer, things would have turned out differently… But as it is, what her father did to her, what he turned her into, is a very successful woman…
This is the story of a woman who both lost and found herself…
And so, a little later the White Queen addresses her X-Men prisoners…