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.