Few power players in the world of X-Men are as essential to Krakoa with as much baggage between them as Jean Grey and Emma Frost, two of the world’s most powerful telepaths and members of Krakoa’s quiet council.
Today I’ll answer:
+ What does this Giant-Size special mean for Jean and Emma in the Krakoa era?
+ What’s the big picture role of the 5 Hickman written Giant-Size specials in Dawn of X?
+ What do you need to know about the history between Jean and Emma?
In our first of five Giant-Size issues written by Jonathan Hickman, with alternating artistic showcases, we get Russell Dauterman and Matt Wilson – the powerhouse duo that made the Jane Foster era of Thor and War of the Realms so incredible – taking on a Jean Grey and Emma Frost combo adventure.
Get your Krakoan translators ready because Giant-Size Jean and Emma is a nearly silent issue, with Krakoan language gates offering some of the only text in the issue. For those of you who don’t feel like playing cryptographer, the opening text reads: “Silence, Psychic Rescue in Progress!” Jean and Emma’s psychic rescue is required after Storm is found badly wounded and comatose on Krakoa.
Review Notes – Spoilers May Follow!
Why Jean and Emma?
In addition to a long-running, frequently nasty history that dates back to the early 80’s “Dark Phoenix Saga,” Jean Grey and Emma Frost also stand out as the female leads of the Grant Morrison written, Frank Quitely designed New X-Men. It makes a lot of sense that Hickman – whose passion for New X-Men is well publicized and clearly influence all things X-Men – Dauterman, and Wilson would take to New X-Men #121 in particular, a “silent” issue in which Jean and Emma venture inside the psychic swamp of Cassandra Nova to save Professor X.
With art by Frank Quitely, New X-Men #121 is a psychedelic explosion of ideas in which we learn Professor X tried to kill his twin sister – Cassandra Nova – in utero.
Notably, Jean is easily the most successful of the adventuring telepaths, as she points out to Emma at issue’s end. Frankly, if you read nothing else prior to the Giant-Size special, you should consider New X-Men #121 for inspiration and reference points, of which there are several fun ones.
Venturing into Storm’s psychic landscape, we get a nice callback to the character’s shared histories. Whereas Storm’s psychic defenses recognize Jean Grey as a friend, they also recognize Emma Frost is a long-time enemy. Indeed, back in Uncanny X-Men #151 to #152, Emma took control of Storm’s body in order to use her to trick and manipulate the X-Men, among plenty of other misdeeds.
It’s a reminder that Emma’s history with the X-Men is ripe with baggage, much of which makes Jean and Emma working together an unlikely scenario to begin with. Jean and Emma Frost first meet in the pages of Uncanny X-Men during the “Dark Phoenix Saga” – which more or less spans issues #129 to #138, but arguably has been building since Giant-Size X-Men #1!.
This is during Emma’s black-and-white – well, mostly white – straight up super villain days, without all of the nuance and complexity that Claremont, Lobdell/Bachalo in the pages of Generation X, Morrison, and countless other creators would add to her character in the decades to come. As a result, her and Phoenix era Jean quickly throw down, as Jean unleashes the full might of the Phoenix on Emma’s not inconsequential psychic powers.
In a sense, Emma would have the last laugh, working with Jason Wyngarde – aka Mastermind – to manipulate Jean into becoming the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club.
Through all that history, by the time House of X and Powers of X culminate in a new Krakoan nation state for mutantkind, Jean and Emma are amicable enough and together enough in their cause to share a beer and celebrate.
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