To celebrate the release of Giant-Size X-Men: Jean Grey and Emma Frost, AIPT proudly presents JEAN GREY + EMMA FROST WEEK – seven days of original articles and interviews about two X-Women so eXtraordinary, they don’t need codenames!
As it’s JEAN GREY + EMMA FROST WEEK here at AIPT, we’re bringing you two special editions of our weekly Judging by the Cover column where we’ll share our favorite Jean and Emma covers of all time! We already tackled Jean’s covers, so now it’s Emma’s turn in the spotlight!
New X-Men (2001) #116
Cover art by Frank Quitely
Everything about this cover set it apart from everything else next to it on comic shop shelves back in 2001. The hot pink background. The cool logo. And, of course, Emma Frost and her new… uh… “uniform.” But the best thing about this image is how Quitely capture’s Emma’s confidence and attitude. She’s here, whether readers like it or not, and X-Men comics will never be the same. And, as of this writing, 19 years later, she remains a power player in the X-Universe.
Astonishing X-Men (2004) #2
Cover art by John Cassaday
For a Scott and Jean fan like myself, the end of Grant Morrison’s run delivered the unthinkable: The end of one of comics’ longest-running relationships. And then this cover came along. Is Emma controlling Scott? Is he blind to the truth due to telepathic manipulation? No matter how real their love was, and no matter how much Emma had changed, this image serves as a reminder that with the White Queen, nothing is always 100% as it seems. And that’s what makes her so dangerous.
Uncanny X-Men (2013) #2
Cover art by Chris Bachalo
I guess Emma just appears on awesome, second-issue covers, huh? Much like the New X-Men cover above, this is Emma displaying her confidence against a simple backdrop. She doesn’t need much to grab readers’ attention–and she knows it. While Emma is always dangerous, the little touches here–from her all-black revolutionary costume to the fact that she’s in her diamond form–reflect this Uncanny volume’s mission statement, as well as Emma’s outlook post-Avengers Vs. X-Men.
Uncanny X-Men (1963) #131
Cover art by John Byrne
Though I wouldn’t say he’s my favorite X-artist, it can’t be denied that John Byrne’s cover art was almost always spectacular. Here we have Emma at her most villainous. That unhinged look in her eye, her looming presence over the imprisoned X-Men, the rescue team in the foreground fighting off nameless henchmen in an effort to escape–it does a lot to sell Ms. Frost as a big deal. It’s not the first cover I think of when I think of the White Queen (that one technically is an Iceman cover), but it’s up there.
Generation X (1994) #6
Cover art by Chris Bachalo
Hassan stole my preferred Bachalo-drawn Emma cover, but I’m an old-school Generation X stan, so I just had to dig deeper to find this gem. If memory serves, I believe this issue was the first appearance of Marrow, back when they would still draw her as if she were a grotesque Morlock (you can blame my beloved Joe Madureira for redesigning her to be the more traditionally beautiful version you see in, say, Marvel Vs. Capcom 2), who had captured Emma alongside her Gene-Nation cohort Hemingway (where is he on Krakoa, guys?). What followed was Emma outwitting her captors and proving that the White Queen may be down but she’s never out.
Astonishing X-Men (2004) #12 (Variant Cover)
Cover Art by John Cassaday
Cards on the table, Hassan also stole my Astonishing X-Men cover, so I went with the next best Emma cover from the series. This variant is crisp, clean, has nothing to do with the issue it graces, and is her default cover on the Marvel Puzzle Quest game I can’t seem to stop playing, It’s a beautiful cover that would make more sense in the Cassandra Nova arc than the Danger one, but it’s still a great image. Emma remains poised in the middle of a fiery hellscape, yet dubious of what follows her. It’s clear it’s not the fire that concerns her, though, but the looming shadow within it. That’s a great story subtly told if you ask me.
X-Men: Black – Emma Frost #1 (Variant Cover)
Cover Art by Terry Dodson
Trying to pin down Emma Frost is nearly impossible; you’d have better luck lassoing the Moon or convincing Trump supporters of climate change. Frost is a mystery wrapped in an enigma covered in six layers of steel, and every time you try and grasp at the core of this character, some creative team surprises you with a fresh new insight or revelation. But as far as capturing that sentiment in visual form, Terry Dodson does a damn fine job. It’s all there on the surface–the power, grace, and sexuality that have defined Frost for decades. But Dodson goes deeper, and there’s a rage and misery fighting under the surface that has always informed what makes Frost such a dynamic and compelling character. She’s truly and completely multi-faceted, and this cover encapsulates so much of her presence and why that unknowing is so damn exciting. Oh, and props for making her look truly English to accompany her “accent.”
X-Men (2019) #5 (Dark Phoenix Saga 40th Anniversary Variant)
Cover Art by Kris Anka
If you are a certain age (or really if you just pay any attention at all), Emma Frost was the first example of a character who perfectly wielded connotations of power and sexuality. That’s not to say she hasn’t been mistreated and mischaracterized over the years; plenty of artists have stripped her of that grace and subtlety and made her look like another blown-out overwrought fantasy. But the best creators always know how to help Frost strike that balance, and Kris Anka’s variant cover for X-Men #5 does that in spades. Yes, it’s easy to demonstrate power when you’re standing over your fallen foes. And, duh, that kind of physical domination is always hella sexy. But even that take misses out on Frost’s peak sneering, or the air of indifference exuding from that truly epic cape. How the world perceives Frost is of little concern, and she long ago decided that she’s the alpha and the omega of planet Earth. Anyone who says or thinks otherwise will be left in a heap like good ol’ Colossus.
Uncanny X-Men (2018) #18
Cover Art by Whilce Portacio
If you took this image just on its surface, it’s super badass. Mystique and Emma Frost on some real boss s--t, and the black suit really works with Frost (even if white is officially Her Sovereign Color). But this one’s all about the context, and commemorates Frost’s ascension as Black King of the Hellfire Club (where she was formerly the long-standing White Queen). But, again, that’s not deep enough to really appreciate this cover for what it is (beyond a truly powerful statement of equality). It’s not that Frost is simply El Jefe, but a lot of the issue deals with her desires to re-shape the Hellfire Club and act as a genuine agent for some much-needed change. Which is to say, power is great, but it’s mostly an illusion without some sense of control and influence. What this cover manages to do is encapsulate that dynamic perfectly, celebrating Frost and her accomplishments and hinting at the larger messages and motifs. Long live the king, baby.