“The Prime of Miss Emma Frost”
NEW X MEN, no. 138
Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely
Marvel Entertainment, May 2003
Frank Quitely, the best superhero cartoonist in the world. Ten years ago, he redesigned the X-Men and made drew some brilliant scenes in the series NEW X MEN. Above is the introductory scene from his final issue on the series, “The Prime of Miss Emma Frost.”
Quitely’s panels tend to move in two directions at once: one-point-perspective, pushing our depth view straight back and straight across our field of vision from left-to-right. The result is a dizzying sense of motion and an immersive sense of space and movement.
My favorite panel above is where Beast (blue guy) has rescued the car passengers and turns to see the flaming guy (Hermann) continue to run down the road. There’s so many different things happening in that panel and all of those things are moving or defined by their lack of moving. Beast and the passengers are still but a raising smoke and dust cloud from Hermann who continues to race away gives the right-hand side of the panel some movement. So as the eye travels from left to right, we see a still scene which gives way to a motion scene. All in the same panel. It’s brilliant.
The panel in which Cyclops skids the car in front of the gas station is also brilliant. It gives me the chills, it’s so good. We read from left to right but the car is moving from our right to left, and it’s trail of telltale motion signs (exhaust fumes, tail light distortion) points away from our reading orientation. These competing stimuli make us read that particular panel both backwards and forwards at the same time. It’s magnificent.
“The Prime of Miss Emma Frost” can be found in volume 4 of NEW X MEN, Riot at Xavier’s.