Friday, August 19, 2011

If I Had Been At the Wedding of Crystal and Quicksilver, I’d Have Been the One To Stand Up and Object…, Part 3

Doug: Last week we saw the separation of Crystal from Johnny Storm due to a mysterious illness; our young heroine was ushered back to the Hidden Land so that she could heal among her family. While the cat's away...

  • FF 117-118: Dec. 1971-Jan. 1972. Art by John Buscema/Sinnott (#117) and Buscema/Jim Mooney (#118), story by Archie Goodwin. Crystal is kidnapped and brainwashed by Diablo; she believes herself a goddess over a Central American nation; at the conclusion Johnny tells her that Maximus has usurped power in the Great Refuge, necessitating her departure yet again. Crystal tells Johnny that he must know that she cannot remain with him, that she must return to her family in order to save their homeland. He replies, “I know, Crys – and I understand. But at least we’ve got this time, this moment… And until there’ll be others – I can wait – and remember this (#118 page 15).” They kiss passionately as the curtain falls (and not just on this issue, as we’ll see…)
  • Avengers 103-104: Sept.-Oct. 1972. Art by Rich Buckler/Sinnott, story by Roy Thomas (NOTE: Buckler’s art here is much more akin to Neal Adams than to the “Kirbyish” art he would display several months later in the pages of Fantastic Four). Two-part story with the team (Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, Vision, and Quicksilver, with an appearance by Rick Jones) versus the Sentinels. Quicksilver is on a mission to find a Sentinel stronghold in hopes that it will help him find the kidnapped Scarlet Witch. As Quicksilver, encountering and commandeering Larry Trask, gets closer, the remaining Avengers follow. They encounter the Sentinels in Australia and engage them. Trask discusses his mutant power, which is to see the future, and it is a future that is not bright for the Avengers. In #104, Quicksilver battles a Sentinel alone, and destroys it. On page 19 he is faced with an ominous aura and yells, “What’s that glow… something… appearing in front of me… something huge, horrible! What is it! What?”
  • FF 130: Jan. 1973. Art by J. Buscema/Sinnott, story by Thomas. Johnny has flown to the Great Refuge to reclaim Crystal. Ready for battle (as always) after his rocket had been shot out of the sky in the previous issue, Triton says, “Black Bolt wanted to make certain that he saw you – before you saw Crystal (page 5).” After being pointed to Crystal’s location in a tower, Johnny flames on and heads straight there. Evading interception by Triton, Karnak, and Gorgon, Johnny melts his way into the tower and lands near Crystal’s feet. He exclaims that whatever trouble there is, they’ll face it together. In a cryptic scene, Crystal replies, “…I prayed I’d never see you again… I’ll stand aside… so you can see more clearly (page 10).” Whoo, boy – big cliffhangers in these last two story examples!! And I should say that the facial expression on Johnny as conveyed by artists Buscema and Sinnott is simply wonderful – so full of pain and shock…
  • FF 131: Feb. 1973. Art by Ross Andru/Sinnott, story by Thomas. As alluded to in the previous issue, something here ain’t right! We find, as Crystal steps aside (NOTE: Buscema drew Crystal in her FF uniform, which was strange since she’d not been with that team for some time. Andru draws her here in her more common yellow outfit), that the look of horror on Johnny’s face as we left him is due in large part to the fact that Crystal has been attending to an injured Quicksilver. When Quicksilver says that she owes the Torch no explanation (very much in standard brusque, abrasive Pietro form), and then refers to her as “Darling” (which I believe is the first time Pietro addresses anyone in a term of affection outside of his sister Wanda), that pretty much seals the battle royale that comes next… Crystal does explain, in detail, how she and Lockjaw became lost inter-dimensionally and ended up at the very moment Quicksilver had become injured in battle with the Sentinels. As Pietro passed out, Crystal and Lockjaw teleported him to the Great Refuge. To be honest, I’m still dissatisfied with the explanation given in a flashback. Crystal comments to Medusa that she will stay by Quicksilver’s side as he heals, saying she somehow feels responsible for his injuries (Say what?? She found him all beat up – she wasn’t there when it happened!!) Medusa remarked that she felt what Crystal was feeling was more than responsibility. And I felt like something had just been shoved down my throat, and I wanted to scream, “Where did this come from?!?” Shoe-horned in, square peg/round hole – I don’t care how you describe it. The whole change in trajectory from the Johnny/Crystal love story to this new Crystal/Pietro love story just felt contrived. The story ends with the Torch and Quicksilver united against Omega, who has grabbed Crystal.
  • FF 132: Mar. 1973. Art by J. Buscema/Sinnott, story by Thomas. The Torch and Quicksilver unite to aid Crystal in a story that is really about racism between the Inhumans and the Alpha Primitives. The story is also significant, as Medusa replaces Sue in the FF and Johnny takes on a red uniform, reminiscent of the Original Human Torch. Crystal tells Johnny at the end of the story that she is staying with Pietro; Johnny remarks,
“I never thought she wouldn’t. Matter of fact, I’m sorta glad it happened this way, now that I’ve had time to cool down and think things through. We’ve been apart too long – and like you said, it just isn’t there anymore – for either of us. Actually, I’m kinda looking forward to getting back into circulation. Truth is, I’ve even got a long-standing date tonight – with an old girlfriend named Dorrie Evans (page 27).”

Just like that? You mean, he’s just going to drop it?? When I came to this story much after-the-fact, I couldn’t believe how out of the blue this seemed; I can’t imagine how it must have felt to have read it first-hand. Was Johnny serious, or was he just playing it off to try to show that he wasn’t hurt by it all? My sense is that if I had plucked it from the spinner rack in the middle of 2nd grade and had known the story from the preceding few years I’d have been one dubious-looking 7-year old.


david_b said...


Great write-up on the Crystal and Quicksilver love affair, probably the most thorough summary I've ever seen. It started out as a nice plot-twist, something with some level of depth for Johnny's love life, which has always been cliche-ish and paper-thin at best.

I thought the Andru art was very disappointing, in light of the Buscema greatness we've seen building and building in this storyline thus far, then Andru pops to do the climatic art, out of nowhere.

Irritating.., like, 'How often has Ross Andru ever draw FF..?? Very odd.

As a sidelight, as goofy an ending as the 'clothes-changing' scene was, I was a big fan of Johnny's red suit; that and Medusa joining the team was my first glimpse of the FF when I started collecting, around ish 137-138. I though Medusa added a much-needed '70s flair (ok, 'eye-candy'..) to the FF's visual appearance, and I was sorry to see her leave.

J.A. Morris said...

Thanks to Doug for the write-up, I've never read these issues.

I guess the word that keeps going through my head here is "why?"

Why did Thomas do this? It added nothing to either character. It's not like we saw much of Crystal & Quicksilver after this, or after their wedding for that matter. I can understand wanting the Torch to be single, but this is all he could think of? Did they just want to get Quicksilver off Wanda's back for a 5 minutes?

Thomas is a comic book genius & legend, but this isn't one of his better moments. Nice art from Sinnott,Buckler, Mooney & Buscema though.

Fred W. Hill said...

I'd been collecting the FF regularly for only a few months when this story came out, although I'd been irregularly collecting long enough to have that World's Greatest Comics reprint wherein Johnny & Crystal met for the first time. At the time whether or not Crystal taking up with Pietro made any sense didn't register with me, I just felt bad for Johnny and that bit about him being "glad" was clearly a lie to cover up his pain after he realized there wasn't anything he could do to change Crystal's mind.
Anyone think Thomas had any definite plans for Johnny's lovelive after this? Didn't really go anywhere when Conway took over an issue or two later. His "date" with Dorie was amusing enough -- finding out she was married with children and plumper than when he last saw her. Johnny didn't really have another flame until Roy came back on board and introduced Frankie Raye, and that didn't turn out so well either, taking several turns for the absurd. Ok, losing a girl to Quicksilver was bad enough, but losing one to Galactus???

Dougie said...

I have a personal preference for new FF members who are Lee or Kirby creations. She-Hulk was great, Luke Cage not so much...But Medusa never clicked for me during this early-70s stint. I had no sense of her personality; her power-set was not sufficiently different from Reed's; and we rarely saw her out of costume. It seemed Thomas, Conway, et al had no clear idea what to do with her. Aside from her abortive relaunch as a super-heroine in '68 (in Spider-man and MSH) she was little more than Black Bolt's handmaiden. She had been an imperious and formidable villainess however. It's a pity that was sacrificed when she was revealed to be an Inhuman.

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