Reader's Rave #1

Greetings folks. In this, a time of yuletide cheer and goodwill, your humble writer has decided to gift his favorite archivists with something they could really use. A new Readers Rave. Keen, huh? Now, being the great herald of Emma Frost, and the scriber of her exploits, I decided to do a critique of my counterpoints on the site. So, without further ado, the Emma Frost fiction review. Void where prohibited...

The first victim is a long, ongoing piece by Montage called Cold Relations. This piece is centered around the capture and incarceration of Bobby Drake and Emma Frost by the Hellfire Club. With the X-Men virtually powerless to rescue their friends, the two are forced to come to some conclusions about what they feel for each other. The characterizations are well done but the early sections of the piece suffer from over-formalized speech and rapid mood swings. Drake and Frost are stiff and overly polite, yet strangely open in what would have been the first few hours of their imprisonment. The emotional swings are more disturbing, with both of them wildly sifting between poles. However, the swings are still kept in character, if somewhat forced. Now, Montage shows a true growth as a writer with the later chapters, which, while being verbose, are logically and cleanly scripted, with good emotional depth and increasingly natural reactions. Emma is more balanced, her mood changes subtler and more human then the earlier sections. The natural attraction between the two is deftly exploited to create some truly fascinating tensions between the lovers.

The next piece is my favorite Emma Frost piece on the net, and one of the most ingenious I have read. JL (Jelpy) Puckett’s Dialogue is a clean, rapid, honest piece involving the capture of Jubilee and Emma by an unknown group. The fascinating thing about this piece is the lack of outside input in the story. Only dialogue is apparent, without any description or even identification of the speaker. Jelpy uses the layout of the page to convey pauses, anger and thoughtful musing. Each character is skillfully cast, the dialogue woven with amazing precision. In a few lines, Jelpy deftly captures the personality of the speaker, invoking images of the student and teacher bonding while crouched on the floor of some darkened room. Jubilee is the engaging member of the conversation, drawing out the depths of Emma like the straight-man feeding the setups to the comic. The guilt of the death of the Hellions truly defines Emma in this piece, and the strength of her feelings towards the students, especially Jubilee. The piece is wonderfully cyclical, with the end charmingly attached to the beginning.

Icicles by Mice takes a tragic look at the delicate affair between Emma and Bobby. Drake, wounded in a battle with half of his chest shattered is assisted by Emma Frost. However, it becomes apparent at the end of the story that Bobby has been fatally wounded, and his death is only a matter of time. While the initial attraction is rushed, Mice falls into a very pleasing tone with the relationship between her and Bobby, and her and Hank. The Beast, Bobby’s best friend finds that he is not alone with his feelings of pain when Bobby is finally pronounced untreatable. Emma is revealed as human with a depth of feeling and love. Unfortunately, the length of the piece is its major failing. The story contained within is simply too much for the short space. The attraction is rushed and the tragic ending is chopped short of resolve. As a flash into a life, it is effective, but the power of the story deserves more time to develop.

In The Midnight Hour and In The Light Of Day are the only erotic Emma Frost stories which I really find the characterizations consistent. Emma and Sean are wonderfully portrayed, with their physical reactions nicely dovetailed to their personalities. The relationship is nicely played up, with all of the pain and indecision of any relationship carefully represented here. The two cleaving together is quite, wrenching scene. Hits those glandular triggers with breath-taking accuracy. While most erotica is usually cliqued to the point of ridiculousness, Melissa Nolan has very skillfully used the true roots of erotic fiction to paint a scene of seduction and passion, rather than focus in on sweaty details. The only jarring note was the impromptu massage, which fails to mesh with the overall tone. This is one series where I think the second piece detracts from the first. In the Light of Day shows the same skill and ability as the first story, but destroys the impact of the original ending and ends the speculation and the charming wonder of what happens. Still, it as well crafted, and if their must be a sequel, it does well to convincingly continue the relationship along. Emma is well written, with some interesting quirks not yet shown in the comic or other fics. The most recommended Sean/Emma pairing, in my opinion.

Nevermore by Pat Sahlstrom is a short and poignant piece dealing effectively with the very volatile subject of child abuse. With shades of Laersyn’s Common People arc, it involves a twelve year old Emma Frost and her abusive father. The abrupt development, shortness and terse speech work marvelously to underscore the brutality of the actions within. Now, this story has two problems, the first being the break from continuity. Emma was abused by the guards, not her father but it is a well done extrapolation. The second is the characterization of Emma after her telepathic powers suddenly bloom. Rather than lashing out in fear and rage, she is cool and calm like her thirty-five year old counterpart. Still, the jarring discordant note is not enough to damage the piece, and it fulfills the purposes. Not a pretty piece, but a nice jolt of reality and pain into the oft-dramatized world of the X-Books.

Another piece dealing with the earlier days of Emma Frost is A Queen's Reflections. Sequoia Swennes sets up a delightfully insightful and honest first person account of Emma, pre-Dark Phoenix. The story takes place just before her appearance at the house of Kitty Pryde, and is an open appraisal of her actions to that point. A hard and slightly bitter woman who fears for the young mutants of the world. Her motivations for creating the Hellions come into sharp focus, making her transition to Xavier’s school far more logical and in-character than some people believe. It is not a story, but a slice of consciousness taken at a moment of introspection. Powerful without being overbearing and insightful without being trite.

The final piece is the best on-going Emma Frost series on the net. White, penned by the multi-talented Min is both fiction and poetry meshed into a major work. Min has a lyric style of writing, a sense of Dickens meshed with Shelley. Her charming emotional descriptions are the true strength of the work and, unlike most young writers, she has a definite and controlled handle on emotions. Drake and Frost are trapped in a cell, a popular theme for most Bobby/Emma adherents, though this time their captor is the vicious Graydon Creed. Both have an idea of the attraction between each other, but they spend immeasurable moments trapped in the angst of indecision. Emma is worked carefully, never quite opening up but also not closing out Drake, who is somewhat oblivious as usual. The story is less dialogued based, using internal monologues to convey vast and sweeping emotional realizations. As with the earlier piece by Swennes, it deals with the re-examination of held beliefs and norms, and the acceptance of that which is hard to believe. The only problem is the relative tone of the piece. It maintains a very serious, emotional or otherwise tone throughout the entire work, making the reading somewhat exhaustive in one sitting. Like anything rich, it must be taken in small chucks, and digested slowly.

The only major arc about Emma not mentioned here is my own, and even my arrogance won’t let me review my own work. However, it does show the dichotomy of the various fics. Most are serious, in content and intention, dealing with the problems of Emma Frost in an often overwhelming manner. Only Jelpy and myself have given the White Queen light material to work with, the others trying with varying degrees of success to delve into the dark mysteries of Emma Frost. Some interesting common threads run through the pieces, like the unique Emma/Jubilee connection, virtually ignored in the comic, and the two obvious attractions of Sean and Bobby, similarly dropped. This little grabbag is by no means a definitive list of the Emma stories, but is an excellent starting point for the ficfan. Till next we cross, gentle readers...


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