- 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…