By Jim Beard
When 2009 dawns, there's going to be an early frost—Emma Frost that is.
The X-Men's infamous White Queen struts further into the spotlight in UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #2, due January 21 from writer Matt Fraction and artists Mitch Breitweiser and Daniel Acuٌa, hot on the heels of her newfound alliance with Norman Osborn's Dark Reign Cabal.
"It's the story of Emma joining the Cabal, crosscut with the story of Sebastian Shaw assembling his first Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club," explains Fraction. "Emma Frost isn't the only person that was up for membership in both groups."
As Dark Reign opened, readers' interest piqued at hints of the beautiful but deadly
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Ms. Frost's past connections with such luminaries as Osborn and Namor the Sub-Mariner. Fraction promises the Annual not only asks the burning questions but solidly delivers the cold, hard answers.
"The Hellfire Club is a big organization, with a lot of members from many different walks of life," he notes. "Did you know both Tony Stark and Norman Osborn have memberships in the club, and that they're both legacy members? They are.
"Anyway, once upon a time, Sebastian Shaw executed a violent coup de tat to take over control of the Club; this is about the Club transitioning into what it became at the start of his time as its leader. Its Inner Circle is incomplete—so Shaw goes about trying to woo the first mutant, and the king of Atlantis, to join him."
Thus comes Emma's introduction to important persons whose presence in Dark Reign will make her life that much more interesting. And what an interesting life it's already been, as UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #2 will reveal.
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"Emma has always put the protection of mutants and mutantkind first; keeping her people safe is her motivator in this life," Fraction notes. "The attendant fabulousness is just ancillary.
"The balance of power in the Marvel Universe has shifted dramatically in the fallout of [Secret Invasion], and the winners invited Emma to sit at their table. Sensing the chance to try and keep her people safe—much the same way she did during Civil War in her deal with Tony—and being unaware of what Cyclops [has] been doing to protect mutants because he's hiding it from her, she took it."
Once the Hellfire Club's White Queen and a femme fatale of high accomplishment, Emma's journey to the here and now stands as a winding path of discovery. At the end of the day, where does she stand: hero or villain?
"Emma doesn't see things so black and white," states Fraction. "And she'd just call herself Auntie Emma and tell you to get out of her way."
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But when down to brass tacks, Ms. Frost knows her own soul and UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #2 peels back a few of its layers to illustrate how joining a group like Osborn's might impact such a multi-faceted character. The question's a weighty one: what motivates her decision?
"The same sorts of things that have always motivated her: safety for mutants," Fraction replies. "In the post-Secret Invasion reality, with a madman like Osborn in charge, who can say what he'll want to do to the mutants?
"In a time when mutantkind sits on the brink of utter extinction, when they're being hunted and killed by their enemies, they've never needed powerful allies more than they do right now."
Witness the X-Men's world crash headlong into the rest of the Marvel Universe in January 21's UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #2. And for more of Emma Frost, visit Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.
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