The X-Men Gave Children Marvel’s Most Horrifying Lesson

The X-Men‘s Emma Frost gave students the most horrific lesson imaginable in Carrie Harris’ novel Liberty & Justice For All. Emma Frost was introduced as a villain, one of the more dangerous members of the ruthless Hellfire Club; but over the years, Emma was transformed into an A-list superhero. Whether hero or villain, though, her motivation has remained the same; she’s a teacher at heart.

Emma founded a rival institution for Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, serving as a mentor to a group known as the Hellions who clashed with the New Mutants time and again. They were tragically killed by Sentinels, with their deaths scarring Emma and causing her to reconsider her path and work with Xavier himself as headmistress for Generation X. Even now, Xavier persuaded Emma to work with him in establishing the mutant nation of Krakoa because he persuaded her it was best “for the children.” And yet, despite that, Emma’s teaching style has never exactly been conventional. This is perfectly demonstrated in Carrie Harris’ novel Liberty & Justice For All, an X-Men story set during the time Cyclops ran a fugitive school based in the old Weapon X facility in Canada. One notable passage sees Emma deliver the most horrific lesson of all.

Emma is teaching a group of new students, including a healer named Triage, and she wants to teach them to trust one another. She tells them they’ll start with trust falls, and everybody is understandably pretty relaxed with the idea, Triage climbing on top of a table. Then, as he begins to lean back to be caught by the other students, he is horrified to see Emma draw a knife and stab herself, dealing an injury that should be fatal. All thought of trust falls slips out of Triage’s mind; he twists in the air to grab Emma’s collapsing body in order to heal her, with the other horrified young mutants catching him even as he uses his power to save Emma’s life.

The best classes teach multiple lessons at once, and this actually serves multiple purposes. It’s an exercise in trust because Triage has to focus on saving Emma’s life and trust his teammates to catch him. Meanwhile, it reminds the rest of the team that the healer is the greatest asset on any team, and should be protected at any cost; if the healer is safe, then any injury the rest of them sustain in battle can be reversed.

And, of course, there’s one final aspect to the lesson; never believe your eyes. When the chaos is over, Triage looks down at Emma – and watches in amazement as the dagger and the blood all disappear. The lesson, after all, was being carried out in the Danger Room, and all the injuries were holographic. Emma Frost never actually stabbed herself at all; she just wanted to make sure these fledgling X-Men learning a lesson they would never forget.

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