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Published April 30, 2024

Meet Emma Frost, the X-Men's Diamond Telepath

Who is Emma Frost? Discover how this mutant villain went from White Queen of the Hellfire Club to one of the foremost members of the X-Men!

For the X-Men, there's a fine line between heroism and villainy. Between gradual descents into cruelty and sudden changes of heart, most of the X-Men's iconic members have turned against the team at some point, and in turn, most major mutant villains have fought alongside the X-Men. 

However, few mutants straddle the line between heroism and villainy like Emma Frost, the White Queen. Whether she's looking out for herself or trying to save the next generation of mutants, Frost has proven she will always do what she thinks is right, without much care as to whether that makes her a hero or a villain.   

From her tumultuous relationship with Cyclops to the generations of mutants she's mentored, let's take a closer look at Emma Frost and how she evolved from the White Queen of the Hellfire Club into one of the X-Men's most important leaders.

WHO IS EMMA FROST?

When Emma Frost debuted in UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #129 by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, she was already a skilled telepath and the White Queen of the Hellfire Club. But before Emma became a member of that elite group, she rejected her family's fortune to make her own way in the world. Emma worked several jobs and honed her telepathic skills and ruthless outlook until Sebastian Shaw invited her to the Hellfire Club's upper echelon, as detailed in X-MEN ORIGINS: EMMA FROST (2010) #1 by Valerie D'Orazio and Karl Moline.

Just as Shaw became the Hellfire Club's Black King, Emma became the White Queen and joined him in the Inner Circle, a group of influential mutants that lorded over the organization. With her powers and business acumen, Frost formed Frost Enterprises, a massive technology and transportation corporation that made her a fortune. To fulfill her lifelong desire to teach, Frost also opened the Massachusetts Academy, where she could teach young mutants and mold them into serving the Hellfire Club.

WHITE QUEEN AND THE HELLFIRE CLUB

As the White Queen of the Hellfire Club, Emma Frost fought the X-Men on several occasions before she gradually evolved into an ally of the team. Emma's first significant encounter with the mutant heroes came when she and Professor X both tried to recruit a young Kate "Kitty" Pryde to join their respective schools.

After kidnapping and physically torturing several X-Men, Emma was defeated by the Phoenix during the opening chapters of "The Dark Phoenix Saga" in UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #131 by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. To attack the X-Men from within, Emma also briefly swapped bodies with Storm before the weather-controlling mutant reversed the process. 

The White Queen spent much of her time teaching her team of young mutants, the Hellions, and unsuccessfully trying to recruit young X-Men like Pryde, Cypher, and Firestar. Despite the Hellions' rivalry with the New Mutants, Frost worked with a then-heroic Magneto to help the young heroes of Xavier's School recover from the traumatic events of SECRET WARS II (1985). However, an attack by the time-traveling serial killer Trevor Fitzroy left most of the Hellions dead and Emma comatose in UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #281 by John Byrne, Jim Lee, and Whilce Portacio.

EMMA FROST JOINS THE X-MEN 

Following her recovery at the X-Mansion, Emma Frost began working even more closely with the X-Men, mentoring new generations of mutants before officially joining the team. After briefly possessing Iceman, the White Queen teamed up with Banshee to save Jubilee and several other young mutants from the Phalanx aliens in the "Phalanx Covenant" crossover in UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #316 by Scott Lobdell and Joe Madureira

After the invasion was averted, those young mutants evolved into Generation X, a team mentored by Emma and Banshee at the reopened Massachusetts Academy. Although Emma excelled in her role teaching this team of X-Men trainees, the group fell apart after Emma's sister Adrienne killed Synch, one of her students, causing Emma to kill her sister in retaliation.

During a devastating Sentinel attack on the mutant nation Genosha, the White Queen developed a secondary mutation that allowed her to turn her body into unbreakable diamond in NEW X-MEN (2001) #116 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Emma joined the X-Men and began teaching at the Xavier Institute, which was dealing with an influx of new human and mutant students. Most notably, Emma began mentoring the Stepford Cuckoos, five young telepaths created by the Weapon Plus program who are her genetic daughters.

WHITE QUEEN AND CYCLOPS

After joining the X-Men, the White Queen also began a telepathic affair with Cyclops, who was married to Jean Grey at the time. After two of the Cuckoos died and the Xavier Institute nearly shut down, Emma and Cyclops reopened the school and began dating, with the approval and encouragement of the late Jean Grey. 

With Jean gone and Professor X rebuilding Genosha, Emma took over as the X-Men's resident telepath and as one of the public faces of the team in ASTONISHING X-MEN (2004) #1 by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday. Despite the initial hesitation of Kate Pryde and other X-Men who had fought Frost in the past, she was an effective headmaster and directly mentored a small group of students called the Hellions Squad.   

When most of the world's mutants were depowered by the Scarlet Witch in the wake of HOUSE OF M (2005), Emma telepathically invited the world's mutants to join her, Cyclops, and the other X-Men at their new base in San Francisco. Due to her criminal past, the White Queen was invited to join the Cabal, an Illuminati-like group formed by Norman Osborn. As the head of the S.H.I.E.L.D.–like organization H.A.M.M.E.R., Osborn had Emma lead the Dark X-Men, a team of mutant peacekeepers loyal only to him. 

Once she discovered Osborn was torturing mutants, Emma revealed her true loyalties and helped the X-Men fight Osborn and establish an island base called Utopia. When the X-Men split into two factions, Emma remained with Cyclops and his militaristic Extinction Team in Utopia in UNCANNY X-MEN (2011) #1 by Kieron Gillen and Carlos Pacheco.

WHITE QUEEN BREAKS BAD

After a lengthy stint as a hero, Emma Frost slipped back into a more villainous role during AVENGERS VS. X-MEN (2012), where she was one of five mutants who wielded the corrupting cosmic power of the Phoenix Force. After Emma and her allies tried to use their power to reshape the world, a Phoenix-possessed Cyclops stole her Phoenix powers, which strained their romantic relationship. Still, Emma kept working with Cyclops and his handful of students when he became an outlaw mutant revolutionary in UNCANNY X-MEN (2013) #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Bachalo

Despite her fractured relationship with Cyclops, Emma tipped over the edge after he died from M-Pox, a mutant disease caused by exposure to the Inhumans' Terrigen Mist. In her grief, Emma lured the X-Men into a war with the Inhumans and created anti-Inhuman Sentinels in IVX (2016)

When a Hydra-loyal Captain America doppelganger took over the United States during SECRET EMPIRE (2017), Emma made a deal with him to rule over New Tian, a sovereign mutant nation in California. Once Emma learned the Mothervine Virus could trigger unstable new mutations, she joined a plot to distribute it globally before switching sides to stop its release with the X-Men. 

Emma also manipulated the X-Men into helping her take over the Hellfire Club in X-MEN: BLACK – EMMA FROST (2018) #1 by Leah Williams and Chris Bachalo. Despite her status as the new Black King, Emma was forced into working for the mutant-hating organization O.N.E. However, she still quietly helped a resurrected Cyclops reassemble the X-Men from afar. 

EMMA FROST AND KRAKOA

When Professor X and Magneto brought the mutants of the world together to form the nation of Krakoa, Emma Frost was one of the first mutants they recruited. For the sake of Krakoa's young mutants, Emma agreed to transform her businesses into the Hellfire Trading Company, which would export Krakoan medicine, in POWERS OF X (2019) #5 by Jonathan Hickman and R.B. Silva

In exchange, the Hellfire Trading Company was granted three seats on the Quiet Council, the group of 12 leaders that governed the nation. While Sebastian Shaw took one seat to oversee the company's black-market dealings, Emma claimed another and granted the last one to Kate Pryde, who began sailing around the world to save mutants as the leader of the Marauders

Beyond helping Pryde and stopping Shaw's schemes, Emma's primary concern on Krakoa was planning the Hellfire Gala, an annual event featuring dignitaries and major announcements like the roster of a new X-Men team. However, that changed once Emma learned that Moira MacTaggert, an old X-Men ally, had secretly guided the formation of Krakoa with knowledge from other timelines she had lived through. 

After the White Queen revealed Moira's involvement to the Quiet Council, Moira joined the mutant-hating group Orchis, which launched a devastating attack on Krakoa at the third Hellfire Gala. With most mutants dead or missing, Emma assembled the surviving X-Men to protect them from Orchis' Stark Sentinels, which incorporated Iron Man technology. Posing as a human named Hazel Kendall, Emma married Tony Stark as part of a plot to save the future from Orchis. Despite her villainous beginnings, Emma stands, once more, as the relentless guardian of the future of mutantkind.

Want to read more about Emma Frost? Join Marvel Unlimited for instant access to 30,000+ comics on the Marvel Unlimited app or on the web, with digital issues spanning Marvel Comics classics to ongoing series!

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