The Transparent Fox:
Fantastic Four #305
Issue(s): Fantastic Four #305
...but he's "still brooding" as he considers a line-up change now that Reed and Sue are leaving.
The first decision is taken out of his hands, since Crystal shows up looking for her "crazy husband", Quicksilver, who was defeated by the FF last issue.
After walking past the FF's other prisoner, Kristoff, Crystal goes into Quicksilver's cell. I didn't mention last issue that Quicksilver repeated his statement that he married Crystal because she reminded him of his sister, but here we really get into it, with Quicksilver calling her "the scarlet woman".
Now, i suppose that's also a reference to The Scarlet Letter, but c'mon.
The Quicksilver/Crystal meeting has each explaining their grievances, with Quicksilver's being that Crystal cheated on him, and Crystal deflecting that blame by saying it was his fault for ignoring her. It also works as a power demonstration for Crystal when the argument turns physical.
After saying "goodbye forever" to Quicksilver, the Thing invites Crystal to join the team. That prompts Johnny to ask to speak with the Thing alone.
Obviously Johnny doesn't like the idea of his "first real love" (poor Dorrie Evans!) hanging around now that he's married, but the Thing is clearly ready for a fight.
The Torch stops the fight, saying he's not going to be goaded into leaving the team. And the Thing thinks to himself that he's not sure why he actually did invite Crystal, but he does seem interested in the possibility of Crystal breaking up Johnny and Alicia (He thinks to himself, "Of course... if she did play around on Pietro...!").
Sue is also wondering about Crystal's infidelity. Englehart is writing the two like there's a generational gap between them (instead of, say, the fact that one of them was raised in a Great Refuge), and Englehart also uses the opportunity to further denigrate poor Tigra (if Crystal ever met her, it would have been at Contest of Champions and/or the Hulk's pardoning, so Crystal's judgement must be coming secondhand).
While in their separate prison cells, Kristoff, still talking like he's Dr. Doom, tries to form an alliance with Quicksilver, but Quicksilver rejects him as an "obnoxious child".
Reed, working off a serum Hank Pym developed, creates a new version of the potion that allows Inhumans to breathe the air on Earth, and Crystal agrees to join the team.
As we jump around to various scenes with the FF, we see narration showing someone monitoring them.
And with that, Dr. Doom arrives, but he's not interested in Kristoff.
And no, he's not the final replacement member. This is setting up a story to be continued in this year's FF annual.
I gave a lot of credit to Englehart for setting up a scenario where Reed and Sue can leave the FF to take care of their kid, but i have to at least take some of that back this issue when Crystal tells Sue that raising Luna won't be a problem because she'll just get a nanny like you guys did. I'd be willing to attribute that to different ideas among Inhumans regarding child rearing, except Englehart himself declines to do so in Crystal's conversation with Sue. There's also a lot of angsty violence in this issue - Crystal deliberately going into her clinically insane husband's cell and getting into a fight with him and the Thing and the Torch's altercation which, it turns out, wasn't part of any plan on the Thing's part. Inter-team fighting was a big deal in the Silver Age at Marvel because it was unusual, but it's been replaced for the better with disputes that don't resort to blows just to get some action into the issue. There's a similar Silver Age-y feel to the dialogue; take a look at that end scene with the Human Torch flying in the door with a mouthful about Kristoff. Nonetheless, at this point it still feels like Englehart is moving forward with an interesting shake-up for the team.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is continued directly in Fantastic Four annual #20. The MCP also have the Fantastic Four vs. X-Men miniseries taking place during this issue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
A "scarlet woman" is an old expression originating in biblical times: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/scarlet+woman
Considering how completely over-the-top ranting mad Quicksilver is here, I'm not sure why the FF (and the Avengers because of last year's Annuals storyline) weren't wondering if he was being mind controlled? He's really off balance, he refused to believe Magneto was his father when it was revealed and here he's ranting about his "purity". That's a major 180 turn.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | March 14, 2014 4:51 PM
Ralph Macchio issued an editorial mandate that Johnny and Alicia's wedding be undone- that was a major reason for Crystal's addition to the team.
Posted by: Michael | March 14, 2014 9:34 PM
Ummm....We'd say the woman needs to take responsibility for her own actions.
You're trying to turn it around, but its funny that society has the term "slut" for a female, but we have to ask, "Yes. Exactly what would we call the man?".
Posted by: ChrisKafka | March 14, 2014 9:40 PM
Also, the comment about Crystal "only cares about the next hot guy" is unfair and inaccurate. I realize we're getting ahead of ourselves here, but we'll see in the upcoming issues Crystal does NOT make moves on Johnny. In fact, she ultimately ends up leaving the team so that she doesn't screw up his marriage.
Yes, both she and Johnny have their old feelings stirred up...and IF Johnny had been interested in leaving Alicia for her, Crys would probably have been okay with that. But she did not actively try to seduce him or lure him away from Alicia.
As for Crys not regretting the affair, let's not forget that there were reasons why she cheated in the first place. Their marriage had problems, and Pietro was absent and neglectful. I'm not saying Crys was right to cheat--but ending that relationship and moving on so they could both be happier may not have been a wrong decision.
Given how that relationship started, the marriage was probably a mistake from day one. Crys fell in love with Pietro while nursing him back to health...while he was in a weakened and vulnerable state, etc. In other words, she fell in love with him when he was not his usual self. And the reverse is true as well--Pietro fell for the woman who was caring for him and tending to his every need. Let's remember that at that point, Pietro's main relationship with a woman was his sister--whom he was used to being 'in charge' with, and being overbearing and over protective. Crys, on the other hand, is an Inhuman princess--she would not be likely to tolerate being treated the way Pietro got away with treating Wanda for so long.
Pietro and Crys both fell in love with fantasy versions of each other. Once the honeymoon period was over, it was inevitable they'd eventually hit problems.
As for the Tigra comment, I agree that was inappropriate--for two reasons. One, Tigra's extreme man-chasing was a result of an imbalance with her powers; it wasn't something under her control and it has since been fixed. Secondly, as already pointed out, Crys doesn't really know Tigra, so why does she know about Tigra's sexual exploits?
But I think the reason Englehart gave Crystal that line was as a note to the readers--he was trying to make a distinction between Crys making a morally-questionable choice regarding her marriage, and just someone sleeping around. Ironically, Englehart was trying to make it clear that Crys is NOT a 'slut', but that is the label that has unfortunately stuck (although the fact that other writers to use her after Englehart have used her in even more love-triangle storylines certainly made that worse).
Posted by: Dermie | March 14, 2014 11:09 PM
My point is not that Crystal is to blame for Pietro's actions- it's that Crystal SHOULD express regret over the affair to people who were endangered by Pietro's actions. Instead, she insults Tigra and endangers Alicia's marriage.
Posted by: Michael | March 15, 2014 9:22 AM
Well, the term "man slut" has been around for a while, and I have heard guys being called just plain sluts for sleeping around a lot(though usually by women).
Posted by: Mark Drummond | March 15, 2014 4:36 PM
A woman being in a bad relationship and deciding to have an affair does not make people think of said woman as a "slut". In the real world, things happen.
See, the problem is that there's a double-standard in society. In high school, the boy who sleeps around is considered cool, and is encouraged by his friends. Meanwhile, the girl who does the same is labeled as a "slut".
See, when you say a man is not a "nice guy", I immediately think he is abusive and controlling, not anything sexual.
Anyway, on the issue of Crystal, I think the intent was always that she was somewhat flighty and a free spirit. It goes with her identity as an elemental.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | March 15, 2014 6:18 PM
Michael, why should Crystal express regret to the people endangered by Pietro's actions? They were PIETRO'S actions. He is responsible for his own actions--Crys had an affair; she didn't tell Pietro to betray his friends to Gyrich and then try to murder them.
As for Crys being willing to sleep with Johnny in #317, yes, I said before that IF he had been willing to pursue that, she would have been open to it. But my point remains that she did not try to encourage it--she did not make any effort to seduce him. In fact, in the Annual where she leaves the team, she expresses frustration at the old feelings that have resurfaced between them and how it has complicated things. It was certainly not something she was trying to seek out. So in terms of Johnny and Alicia's marriage, the only thing Crystal is "guilty" of is still having feelings for her first love...and Johnny is equally 'guilty' of that.
And then on top of that makes a pretty big personal sacrifice by going back to the husband who tried to murder her the last time she saw him. That is hardly the action of a selfish, man-chasing marriage wrecker...
Posted by: Dermie | March 15, 2014 10:31 PM
That last part was what I found disturbing.
As far ad selfishness, that's just human. All of us have selfish thoughts and make selfish decisions in our life at times. Like I said, you can't blame Crystal for still having feelings for an ex.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | March 15, 2014 10:42 PM
Basically, Pietro claimed he was mind-controlled- Crystal's family believed him but Crystal had doubts. Unfortunately, as we'll see when we get to X-Factor Annual 2, subsequent writers have made it complete unclear if Pietro really was mind-controlled.
Posted by: Michael | March 15, 2014 11:00 PM
Based upon Maximus, I'd say that the Inhumans do not know how to deal well with mental health.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | March 15, 2014 11:16 PM
There's a lot of things wrong with Inhumans society. Not that Crystal's actions were based on anything cultural, but in regards to Maximus, it's just the tip of the iceberg.
Posted by: Chris | March 16, 2014 12:27 AM
Nah, not the issue with Crystal. I always got the feel she didn't fit in well with inhumanss culture either.
There's always the risk that they might have euthanized Pietro if she checked him into somewhere that would diagnose him with a mental health condition.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | March 16, 2014 12:35 AM
Now to be more serious in response....
Posted by: ChrisKafka | March 16, 2014 12:41 AM
I'm not sure I consider "nymphomaniac" a more polite form of "slut." The former word has uncomfortable baggage of its own, being a remnant of a Victorian era when a strong sexual appetite on the part of a woman was a considered a serious mental illness. Women were institutionalized and submitted to invasive exams and all sorts of gruesome therapies to "cure" them, including genital mutilation. I don't speak for women, but if I'm going to have one of those labels attached to me, I'd rather take "slut" -- at least I could joke about that without wincing.
I'm not sure it's as true as it once was that a man who sleeps around a lot gets winks and pats on the back, while a woman is shamed. That was certainly true as recently as the 1970s, but the two sides have gotten closer together since then. Sleeping around on anyone's part, male, female, gay, straight, became less of a thing in the plague years of the 1980s and early 1990s, and people still tend to be more circumspect than they were in the prior two decades. For a lot of reasons, on this one point, I think it's a more enlightened time.
Really, I'm not sure we need a noun for a man or a woman who has a lot of sex. An adjective will do for someone who has sex frequently and/or indiscriminately, with multiple partners: promiscuous. That doesn't even pass judgment, and it can be applied fairly without becoming someone's whole identity.
Posted by: Todd | March 16, 2014 1:29 AM
About Crystal returning to Pietro- that wasn't Englehart's idea, though. That was forced on him by the editors. Englehart's idea of Crystal was "a selfish, destructive stranger" to use the words of Medusa from X-Factor Annual 2, which was written as a response to Englehart's writing of her.
Posted by: Michael | March 16, 2014 11:26 AM
Let's also not forget that at the time the affair was exposed, Crystal was comatose due to an overdose of the anti-pollution potion. She was not exactly in a position to be doing anything about Pietro's mental health. She was rather busy at that point with trying to just stay alive.
I don't think Englehart considered Crystal a "selfish, destructive stranger"--as you say, those are the words of a different writer. Leaving aside for the moment the morally questionable issues of her affair, his Crystal was a pretty strong woman.
While the rest of her people hid away from the world, she was the bold adventurer who wanted to see the world and learn and explore. She lived her life and made her choices--and stood by them, despite other people's judgements. She did not tolerate abusive behaviour towards herself at all--when Pietro tried to get violent with her, she took him down hard. Despite the romantic tension with Johnny, she proved herself a very capable and valuable member of the roster. Whatever else one may say about Englehart's portrayal of Crys, I think he should also get credit for that. More love triangles from later writers have ended up making Crys into a very emotionally confused person who can't seem to make a decision--but Englehart's Crystal at least knew her own mind and her own heart.
Posted by: Dermie | March 16, 2014 5:50 PM
Ron Frenz starts doing covers with this issue and continues to do them for the next two years. Joe Sinnott inked them and they very much had that Silver Age style that Frenz would use on Thor. Sinnott would later start inking Frenz on Thor and then it got even more Kirbyesque. This retro style for Frenz was probably my favorite period of his artwork.
Posted by: Robert | May 14, 2014 5:50 PM
Amazing Heroes #115 joke listing: "In this, the most surprising issue of the World's Greatest Comic Magazine's 25-year history,the Fantastic Four does NOT break up!"---Stern/Buscema/Buscema
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 13, 2014 5:10 PM
When this issue was first announced, it also stated that Medusa would be rejoining as the 4th member.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 15, 2014 5:01 PM
Just before this appeared, Amazing Heroes Preview Special #5 announced an Inhumans miniseries written by Jo Duffy that would establish Maximus' mind control experiments to be behind Quicksilver going bonkers, and other weird things the Inhumans were doing.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 20, 2014 6:37 PM
In the last half of this issue, captions establish that Doom has surveillance(video and sound) on Four Freedoms Plaza and Johnny and "Alicia's" apartment. This is what the $64,000 caption in Fantastic Four #312 referred to.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | April 29, 2016 4:22 AM
I've added a few scans. Thanks Brian.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 29, 2016 9:08 AM
Just like back in the '70s, Engelhart gets real-life time and comic book time confused when Crystal refers to "that was last year" ... although, given the odd month-to-month gimmick of the V&SW series, perhaps for once he is correct? (Yes, I'm one of ths guys that prefers Engelhart's '70s output to his '80s).
Posted by: Jeff | July 13, 2016 5:53 PM
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