Friday, August 12, 2011

If I Had Been At the Wedding of Crystal and Quicksilver, I’d Have Been the One To Stand Up and Object…, Part 2

Doug: Welcome back to our second in a series of posts publishing an essay I'd written on the wedding of Crystal to Quicksilver, originally intended for Assembled, volume 3. When we left off last week, I'd just gotten into a chronology of Crystal's courtship with Johnny Storm. We pick it up here with her second appearance:

  • FF 46: Jan. 1966. Crystal professes that she doesn’t want to be separated from Johnny, “no matter what (page 14)”. Earlier in the issue, the FF come face-to-face with the Inhumans – it’s like meeting “the Addams Family”, more or less. When the Inhumans seek to flee in order to rehabilitate the fallen Black Bolt, Karnak remarks to Crystal that the Torch is their enemy. She cries, “No! You’re wrong! He meant us no harm! I know it in my heart (page 13).”
  • FF 47, 48: Feb.-Mar. 1966. Crystal and Johnny become near inseparable as the FF have to leave the Great Refuge – Stan Lee teen angst in the Spidey tradition!! Reed remarks, “She’s oblivious to everything else! She only has eyes for Johnny (#47, page 18)!” Incidentally, Johnny twice refers to her as “Chris” in #47.
  • FF 61-62: April-May 1967. After freeing Attilan from its dome-prison, the Inhumans allow Crystal to leave in search of Johnny, with Lockjaw as her “chaperone”. Crystal remarks near the beginning of the story that Lockjaw is “…my only means of reaching Johnny Storm! And until Johnny and I are together again, nothing else in my life matters to me (# 61, page 12)! In #62, Crystal and Lockjaw arrive in the Baxter Building to find the FF at a loss as to how they can rescue Reed from certain death in the Negative Zone. Crystal immediately offers to help, and uses Lockjaw to teleport back to the Inhumans to secure aid. Triton returns with her and saves the day. At the conclusion of the story Crystal remarks to all after Johnny’s made a sarcastic remark about Reed’s and Sue’s emotional reunion: “If I ever catch you sounding like that, Johnny… I’ll probably be the happiest girl in the world (#62, page 20)!”
  • FF 81: Dec. 1968. Crystal debuts in an FF costume, declaring that with Sue in post-partum recovery due to the birth of Franklin (in the previous month in Fantastic Four Annual #6), “someone has to take her place on your team (page 1)”. Of course, since it’s her “debut” issue, she saves the team from the Wizard by demonstrating her command of Earth, Wind, and Fire (the elements, not the band).
  • FF 95: Feb. 1970. Medusa comes to take Crystal back among her people. Johnny protests loudly – “You can’t do it, Crys! You can’t leave me – to go back to them (page 11)!” Crystal replies, “Oh, Johnny – Johnny! Do you think I want to go?” As Medusa takes Crystal away (by force), Crys calls back to the Torch, “Wait for me, Johnny – I’ll come back to you – (page 12).”
  • FF 99: June 1970. Johnny storms the Great Refuge; Crystal calls him a fool, then chastises him for his behavior – she says something to the effect that love requires trust and understanding. She was needed to help heal Black Bolt in an illness. Crystal leaves with the FF.
  • FF 105: Dec. 1970. Art by John Romita/John Verpoorten, story by Lee. Crystal falls ill while on a shopping excursion. Initially believing it to be something she ate, she is able to use her powers to help the team as a building nearby begins to crumble. Immediately after, she collapses; Johnny exits with her to return to the Baxter Building. He bursts into Reed’s lab and exclaims, “Reed – it’s Crystal! She collapsed in the street! There’s something wrong – something serious! I’m scared Reed – I’ve never seen her like this (page 5)! I think it’s important here to note that Johnny has admitted this fear – with all he’s faced down to this point in his career, this can be nothing if not a man in a deep state of love with his woman. Reed, through some simple blood work, determines that the contaminants in the Western world are bothering Crystal’s immune system and that she has to remain sheltered in Attilan; Lockjaw comes to take her back home to the Inhumans. But before she leaves, she and Johnny have the following exchange:
Johnny: “But we love each other! We can’t be separated again!”
Crystal: “Johnny – I heard him (Reed)! He’s right, my darling!”
Johnny: “No! It can’t be! It isn’t fair! I can’t lose you now!”
Crystal: “We won’t be losing each other, dearest! It won’t be – forever! I – I couldn’t bear – to think of that (page 11)!”
However, a few pages later, Johnny and Crystal re-enter the lab so Crystal can say some good-byes. If you ask me, these sound pretty permanent. One might get the impression that it’s going to be longer than just a short separation. As Lockjaw opens the dimensional field, Crystal says, “It’s best that – we leave quickly! It will lessen – the pain (page 14)!”

Let’s have an interlude here to examine what has gone before. Am I the only one here who thinks that after examining the stories above that Johnny and Crystal were destined to continue their somewhat-rocky relationship? Despite her absence in the succeeding year, I guess I wouldn’t have had the impression that it was over. As the Thing dominated most of the storylines in the issues between #’s 105-117, it was not all that noticeable that Crystal and Johnny’s romance had been placed on the back burner. And given that in Marvel time we were probably only talking about a matter of weeks, why would anyone worry about it?
Although Stan had continued to write in his general teen-angst style, there had been growth in the characters. Johnny had shown some maturity on the team while at the same time retaining the “hot-headedness” that was his namesake (he was particularly out of control in #105 when Crystal left). Crystal showed, particularly in #105 that she had grown (perhaps more than him) and could reconcile her life in two worlds. While Johnny seemed somewhat selfish in regard to “splitting time” in the coming months between Manhattan and Attilan, Crystal seemed willing to make it work. I think, had Stan and later Roy chosen to continue on this path (a slow path, but progression nonetheless), there could have been even more layers added to this love affair – perhaps even a spin-off Inhumans (the Amazing Adventures strip of this period?) series featuring Johnny and Crystal at the center of the storyline. However…


david_b said...

It's interesting to compare the handling of Johnny's on-going romantic subplot in FF under Lee, later Thomas, and Peter's ups and downs under Lee and Conway.

I don't see Lee's handing of Johnny and Crys during the Silver Age as anything more than adding a layer of soap opera angst to the mix. I don't really see a lot of growth or development over the course of the Silver Age, other than both spouting out the typical 'I can't, I won't live without you' stuff. It's pretty much an afterthought, which is alright as long as you have such huge, universe-level plots as Galactus, Doom, you name it. As a counter-point to such grand scale adventures, it fit in as much as the Reed-Sue banter during most of the decade. As we entered the Silver times, you can tell it Thomas wasn't sure how to pursue or build upon it.

To further the development, keeping heartbreak for Johnny, the obvious ideas were killing her off or she winds up with someone else.

I was going to say the Crys-Quicksilver surprise happened because there was already Gwen's death, but FF 131 actually came out 4 months earlier. Other than saving Pietro who was supposidly dying, no one ever really saw any inkling of WHY there was an attraction.

Was it a simple fling.., like the one she had later with the insurance agent or whoever it was..? It certainly didn't seem smoothly done or thought out long-term by the House of Ideas.

J.A. Morris said...

I would've objected too!
From what I've seen of the character,I think Quicksilver is too involved and overprotective of his sister to have a successful relationship with anyone.

Does Quicksilver have any fans? I've yet to meet any online or in person. He's fast, he's related to two other mutants, divorced from Crystal...that's about it, not a lot of personality there.
I like a few stories with him. The FF issue where his daughter is born, the Avengers story where he and Wanda go off with Django Maximoff is good.

And his return to villainy as head of Zodiac in the 80s was good, that's about it.

Dougie said...

As I said in Part 1, I also enjoyed the Englehart version of Quicksliver as unbalanced villain. But he had his own book for a while in the 90s so he must have had some fans at one time. I hope that one day, a writer will find a way to restore Wanda and Pietro as Avengers. It would be quite refreshing since I find the whole "ambiguous, conflicted hero" thing a bit played-out. Look at Waid's new Daredevil: a real treat.

Steve Does Comics said...

What I always find interesting about the Johnny/Crystal thing is that before it, Lee and Kirby were clearly setting up a relationship between the Torch and Medusa but then abandoned the idea by bringing in Crystal. It seems like there's a parallel to the Mary Jane/Gwen thing, where it initially seemed like Peter Parker was going to have a relationship with "bad girl" MJ before Lee decided he needed a more wholesome girlfriend and settled on Gwen. Like MJ, you can't help feeling Medusa would've been a more interesting girlfriend.

William said...

Well J.A., I guess I'm the first Quicksilver fan you've ever encountered. Yay!

I've always thought he was pretty cool myself. I like that he's not ultimately fast like the Flash and he has very interesting design. I especially like his original look as drawn by Kirby in early issues of the X-Men. When I was a kid I even created a super hero called "The Speedster" that was definitely inspired by Pietro.

My most memorable QS moment is from Avengers #185 drawn by John Byrne. In the issue Pietro and Wanda are traveling and staying in some small European village and Wanda ends up missing. So Pietro goes looking for her and there's a really cool shot of him racing around the town at super speed. He doesn't find her, but soon learns that she may up on this nearby mountain and without hesitation he takes off and races up the sheer face of said mountain. He then hits some kind of invisible forcefield and goes tumbling back down. It was 3 very awesome pages, and possibly the finest portrayal of super speed I've ever seen drawn in a comic. You could actually feel the velocity. Great stuff.

When he's handled correctly Quicksilver can be a very cool character. But I still don't think he should have married Crystal.

John said...

Crystal had a smashing entrance as a member of the FF in issue #81, when she saved the men from defeat at the hands of the Wizard. This led one fan to write a letter saying that with a power like Crystal's, Sue was finished as a member of the team and that she should stay in the background and just be a mother to her baby. We can only wonder how the comic would have been different if Crystal had taken Sue's place permanently and married Johnny instead of Quicksilver....

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