Friday, August 5, 2011

If I Had Been At the Wedding of Crystal and Quicksilver, I’d Have Been the One To Stand Up and Object…, Part 1

Doug: Several weeks ago when I began to post installments of my Goliath essay slated to appear in Assembled, Volume 3, I mentioned that later on I would post my other essay intended for that book: my point of view on the wedding of Crystal to Quicksilver. Over the next few Fridays we'll journey through a retrospective of the loves of our young Inhuman's life, and if you're like me, you'll be scratching your head a bit as to how she wound up with our favorite abrasive mutant. One disclaimer before beginning -- as this was originally typed in Microsoft Word, there may be some formatting issues in the conversion to Blogger. I'm just sayin'... Shall we?

I’ve had something on my mind since, oh, 1975 or so. It’s a topic that mystifies me to this day. You know how every now and again you read a story or story “arc” (as we call them these days – God bless (or curse) this trend of “writing for the trade paperback” as I like to call it) and you’re just left scratching your head? Come on – "Disassembled", "Vision Quest", that time when Ben’s gal Sharon Ventura was turned into a she-thing – you know what I’m talking about. The story in that vein that has most eaten at me for the better part of three decades is the sometimes-called Wedding of Crystal and Quicksilver.

I came to these characters in roughly the same time frame, circa 1972. I “met” Quicksilver in the pages of Marvel Triple Action #13, a reprint of Avengers #19. I was impressed with his speed powers. A newcomer to comics as a wide-eyed 6-year old, I thought he had a nobility about him in that he seemed to care immensely for his sister Wanda (the Scarlet Witch) – me, I usually fought with my sister in those days! I never could figure out why his hair was white, though, and why he didn’t slick down those two “horns” on the front… I’d have been beaten up at school in the 1st grade if I’d gone with hair looking like that (even in the Groovy ‘70’s!!). Pietro, as he was called, was brash, quarrelsome, but able to back it up. He seemed an outsider to me, though – often the brunt of Hawkeye’s verbal abuse yet also in question of Captain America’s authority.

Crystal came into my life in the pages of Fantastic Four #84 – I must have owned an actual copy of this, as the Marvel’s Greatest Comics reprint (MGC #66 – June 1976 issue) comes too late to have served as my introduction. I (even to this day) have tended to identify with the younger characters in any team book and this issue was no exception. Although the Thing and even Dr. Doom were more visually interesting, I was drawn to the angst of the relationship between Johnny Storm and Crystal. Not at the time understanding the full backstory to their individual histories or even their relationship, I nonetheless became enthralled by Johnny’s concern for her and genuine excitement upon their reunion after falling into the clutches of that mad Latverian dictator. These were two teens very much in love – it was obvious.

Although in possession of a complete run of Avengers volumes 1-3, I bought the Avengers DVD-ROM in June 2006 to serve as an at-the-fingertips resource. I followed that purchase with the Fantastic Four DVD-ROM in August of the same year, which filled in all of the gaps in my FF collection. Anyway, since at the time I’d been recently reading through the Essential Fantastic Four volume 3, I chose to spend most of my time on the FF disc in the next months. Feelings – generally negative – toward the love triangle of Johnny Storm, Crystal, and Quicksilver resurfaced.

I came to Avengers #127/FF #150 as a kid, obtaining the wedding story as back issues in a trade many months after their newsstand debuts. At about the same time, I was by then in possession of several issues of Marvel’s Greatest Comics, which as stated previously reprinted the classic Stan Lee/Jack Kirby FF run. Many of those issues contained Crystal, and it was continually obvious (as I made more discoveries) the youthful love she shared with the Human Torch. Imagine my consternation then when she ended up marrying Pietro! Even as a “longtime” Avengers fan, this made no sense to my pre-adolescent mind, and it still doesn’t 30+ years later!! I would love a sit-down with Roy Thomas, who, as you look through the creative credits in the issue summaries that follow, seems to have been the one responsible for the change. By the way, in a recent e-mail from Roy in answer to some questions I posed to him on this topic, he confessed that after all of these years his memory just wasn’t good enough to recall all of the details of the decision to marry these characters (although he is sure he approved it at the time).

Take a look now at a summary of some key events that “led” (does anything truly “lead” to an event that pops up out of the blue?) to the Wedding of Crystal and Quicksilver:

FF 45: Dec. 1965. Art by Jack Kirby/Joe Sinnott, story by Stan Lee (unless otherwise noted). First appearance of Crystal; the Inhumans (notably Gorgon) appeared in the previous issue. Happening upon Crystal in a deserted, desolate alleyway, Johnny remarks, “Wow! I must be seeing things! What’s a vision like that doing in a deserted neighborhood? She almost doesn’t even look real – sort-of like something out of a fairy tale! I hate to be disloyal, but she makes Dorrie Evans seem like a boy (page 8)!” Ah, love at first sight, as Crystal then proceeds to kick his butt for startling her. Johnny then daydreams about her, and steals away to the same alley later the next night to hopefully encounter her again. He does. Apparently the love at first sight is hers as well, and Crystal takes Johnny home to meet her family.


david_b said...

Yeah.., starting in '73 I only had the reprints and the dozen or so issues after ish 136, so here I had the '60s love with Johnny, then him lamenting about it in ish 150 with Medusa. About a decade later, I started collecting the stories with Quicksilver and Crys hooking up.

And ironically, same was true for Quicksilver. Having the Triple Action reprints of the Quartet, then seeing flashbacks of a violent Pietro in ish 114, arguing with Wanda about her romantic relationship with Vish, a lot of readers coming into Marvel by mid-Bronze had missed both of these character developments, remembering there weren't typically common venues for collecting back issues as there is today. So it was a bit odd to see them marrying.

I'm probably missing a lot of stories, but other than the few ishs of FF like 131-132 with Crys and Pietro, I didn't notice much exposure of their courtship. It wasn't played out much in either issue, like Reed/Sue and Peter/MaryJane. They pretty much faded off everyone's radar until Gorgon's announcement in Avengers 127.

Fred W. Hill said...

I got that initial appearance of Crystal in a now ragged copy of Marvel's Greatest Comics circa 1970which also included the first appearance of Gorgon - wherein he came off as a truly tough bruiser! My collecting habit was rather sporadic at that point but as I really got more into it by the time I was 10 I was witness to the blossoming of Johnny & Crystal's relationship in the reprints and their dramatic breakup in then current issues of the FF. Of course, I'd missed those issues where Crystal had to leave the human world of the FF due to health reasons and Johnny being torn between loyalty to the FF, his family, and to his love for Crystal. Apparently Stan Lee instigated that breakup by distance, perhaps because he couldn't figure out what to do with the relationship without breaking up the team so Johnny could really grow up and leave the womb to start a new life with Crystal. Much easier to just write Crystal out of the story. And of course, short of killing her off, the "best" way to resolve the whole affair is to have her fall in love with someone else.
Curiously, Thomas essentially wrote Pietro out of the Avengers just before turning the reigns over to Englehart, which makes me wonder whether that was Englehart's suggestion or something Thomas would have done anyhow as seeding upcoming stories for his takeover of the FF from Lee. Certainly, getting Pietro out of the Avengers helped to allow room for Wanda to grow as a character, which she did to a greater degree under Englehart than under either Lee's or Thomas' tenures.

Fred W. Hill said...

Hi, David, from my recollection, there really weren't any other stories of Pietro courtship of Crystal -- essentially just those two issues of the FF where Johnny finds out about it and reacts just about how you'd expect a heartbroken, love-sick hothead would, those few panels in the Avengers wherein Wanda finds out Pietro is physically ok but deeply upset about her budding relationship with the Vision, and then the marriage cross-over story in Avengers 127 & FF 150. Outside of reprints, Pietro's & Crystal's appearances were pretty scarce for about a decade afterwards at least.

Aaron said...

For guy who's supposed to be as much of a "playa" as Johnny, his luck with women seems to go pretty sour fast. When they're not marrying evil mutants, they're turning out to be evil aliens. It's just like life.

William said...

Is it just me, or does that picture of the wedding with Black Bolt's arm around Crystal look a little depressing? Crystal doesn't look very happy to be getting married. It almost looks like Black Bolt is trying to keep her from running away. Maybe it was an arranged marriage by Bolt and Magneto to unite mutants and Inhumans or something. I'll bet Crystal never wanted to marry Pietro in the first place. Then again, if you think about it, I don't expect that too many women would be very happy married to a guy whose name starts with "Quick".

I mean she went from a strapping young guy who generates his own heat, to a silver haired dude whose power is to do everything really fast. That cannot have been her idea.

Anthony said...

I've never really cared for Quicksilver. He makes Namor seem like an OK guy. I don't know too much about his relationship with Crystal during their marriage but I'd say that William has a good story idea. It would set up a precedent for her marriage to Ronan during the War Of Kings storyline.

William said...

Yeah, Mark MIllar or Bendis have probably already stolen the idea and are typing up the story right now.

Anonymous said...

Quicksilver is just misunderstood and too proud to try harder to be understood. And he was right about his sister marrying a machine. That's just psycho.

I personally never cared for Crystal --or any of the Inhumans, for that matter. She didn't have much in the way of personality.

vancouver mark said...

I came into the Marvel Universe just a bit behind you. FF #131 happened to be the first issue I bought and kept, at twelve years old, and after it I bought every issue.

As a new grade 7-aged reader I totally identified with the Torch, so Quicksilver to me was forever the rat fink who stole Crystal.
In the subsequent months I began buying Marvel Triple Action (along with virtually every other Marvel title, for one month at least) and learned to further dislike Pietro.

Never liked him, likely never will.

Dougie said...

I was never a Quicksilver fan either, although I suppose I liked him best in the Thomas/Buscema era of the early 70s. But it was hard not to sympathise with him slightly in the 80s when he had a breakdown after Crystal's infidelity (with a real estate salesman named Norman, IIRC!) Pietro was shaping up to be a major tragic villain until the storyline "went away" during the Evolutionary War. In any case, it seemed psychotic behaviour was in the blood:the Lensherr Curse, as it were (or whatever the Hell Magneto's called this decade).

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