Vision and the Scarlet Witch #10
Issue(s): Vision and the Scarlet Witch #10
Hehe. Check out Norm Webster pulling at his collar there. Also check out that psycho-looking woman holding Luna, who is neither of the nannies (Maya or Marilla) that we'll see in later issues.
This issue is all about the Crystal/Norm/Quicksilver triangle that, well, i won't say "has been building" so much as has been plopped down on us beginning in issue #6 of this series when we first heard that Crystal had a problem with how much time Quicksilver was spending with the Inhuman militia, and then which landed with a thud in issue #7 when Holly Ladonna caught Crystal and Norm kissing.
Now Crystal is unconscious and Norm is as nervous as, well, an ordinary human on the moon surrounded by super-powered weirdos, all of whom are related to Crystal or her husband Quicksilver.
Especially since Medusa hasn't even bothered to get fully dressed and is instead walking around in some kind of bondage gear with a boob window.
Eventually, thanks to Crystal talking in her sleep, it comes out that she's been sleeping with Norm. Quicksilver reacts about how you'd expect.
When Vision and the Inhumans stop Quicksilver from manhandling Norm, Quicksilver calls on the militia he's been training. And this is possibly the saddest part of this whole affair: the troops appear to be entirely normal men. In a city full of super-powered individuals, of what possible use could these guys be?
The fact that they don't even listen to him is just icing on the cake.
Mind you, these troops are the project Quicksilver has been devoting himself to, at the expense of neglecting Crystal and their daughter Luna. He doesn't really have a lot to show for it.
Quicksilver runs off and Vision and the Royal Family chase him while Scarlet Witch checks with Norm to make sure she was a "willing participant" (poor guy)...
...and then prepares to magically wake Crystal up.
Inside Crystal's mind, she learns that Crystal's unconscious state has less to do with problems regarding the anti-pollution potion and more about her own shame at facing her family over her affair.
Speaking of shame, meanwhile Quicksilver tells the Inhumans that the reason he married Crystal was because "She reminded me so much of my sister!".
It turns out that neither were really compatible for the other. Crystal had initially thought Quicksilver was gentle, but in fact he was just weak from the near-death experience with a Sentinel that Crystal rescued him from. And she thought Quicksilver would, like Johnny Storm, be a "link to the outside world" but he turns out to be an introvert. Crystal, on the other hand, never gave Quicksilver any space "for my private interests, as Wanda always had".
The repeated comparisons to Wanda have an obvious, and i think intended, incestuous overtone, but even ignoring that, it's worth noting that both Wanda and Pietro had a really strange and isolated childhood, and there wasn't really room for Pietro to have had any "normal" relationships. So the fact that he's a damaged individual that doesn't have the right capacity to be a husband or father isn't surprising. That said, it's not something that Englehart makes any effort to develop here.
Crystal wakes up and she and Quicksilver have a private conversation, but the result of it is that Pietro won't take it back (even with Wanda telling him "You have to".
He runs off, particularly hurt that Wanda won't support him.
And rightfully so! Last issue Scarlet Witch was ready to break up with the Vision over a magical kiss from the Enchantress, and now she doesn't take her brother's side when his wife has been cheating on him?
I can't say exactly what Steve Englehart's motives were in breaking up Crystal and Quicksilver's marriage. Maybe he didn't like the marriage itself. But i do think part of the idea was to introduce some marital strife into this series without affecting the marriage of the main characters. It's kind of ironic, because the big criticism or stated flaw of married super-heroes (where one or both partners are super) is that their lives become boring and so the only way to get any drama out of them is to break them up (and the corollary that there's no point in marrying characters because some later writer will come along and break them up and it just winds up being baggage).
Englehart's series here seems designed to prove that wrong, at least for Vision and the Scarlet Witch, but it's done at the expense of another married couple. And in itself that's not criminal. Crystal and Quicksilver have both been largely sidelined since their marriage. But Englehart devotes almost nothing to the break-up; it's mostly justified after the fact with a few lines on each side. The most interesting thing about the Crystal/Quicksilver marriage was their fight over the decision to not expose Luna to the Terragen Mists in Thing #3. That story isn't even referenced here. Quicksilver ultimately acceded to Crystal's wishes in that story and seemed to accept and be happy with his human baby. But that could have been a seed for unrest between him and Crystal, and even a rejection of Luna, if that's what Englehart wanted to do. Even ignoring that, space still could have been devoted to actually showing Quicksilver and Crystal having problems. Even what i suspect was Englehart's intention, for Crystal to pine for a Norm-al relationship with a human from the world that she was said to be so fascinated with, unlike most other Inhumans, is underplayed.
Crystal is often referred to as a "slut" in fan conversations, and to be sure, this is the second time she's been unfaithful to a lover (we're not yet looking at the Black Knight/Sersi situation). However, i wouldn't characterize her behavior that way. Crystal's motivation doesn't seem to be explicitly sexual in nature, or casual. In both this case and her break-up with Johnny Storm, it's her way of escaping a relationship in which she feels trapped. And that's a very common reason for people to have an affair, and doesn't make one a "slut" (although that word will likely be used by the other partner). I'm not saying that what Crystal has done here is justified, only that i wouldn't have a problem with Englehart writing her this way, if only he'd not been so lazy about developing the situation. In Englehart's defense (sort of!), a lot of Englehart's writing has been this way, so a lot of the fault lies with his clunky style and not his intentions.
As for Quicksilver, as much as i dislike the way he has been written in this series (and in his upcoming appearance in the West Coast Avengers annual), i do like that this is part of his backstory. It gives him some depth and an additional stress point to justify his lofty and sometimes villainous behavior.
For Vision and the Scarlet Witch, aside from Wanda having some conversations with the Inhuman doctor Cuidador about her pregnancy, this issue is largely an aside for them. Thematically the issue fits the series' topic, and of course Quicksilver is the Scarlet Witch's brother, but otherwise they are basically bystanders here.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: It's been a "month" since Crystal collapsed last issue. Quicksilver next appears in the Avengers annual crossover; it's said that the "results of this little drama will affect the entire Marvel universe in the days to come!". Per Jay's suggestion in the comments, i'm tentatively tagging Iridia to represent the Inhuman holding Luna in this issue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (7): show
I think that both Crystal's behavior and Englehart's writing of her are worse than you do. Keep in mind that in this issue Crystal is willing to die without caring how it will effect Pietro or Norm or Luna. It's also worth noting that Englehart demonstrated in this story that her family WAS prejudiced against Pietro because he was human. (Honestly, the whole idea of Pietro becoming obsessed with the milita because the Inhumans treated him like an outsider would have worked much better if shown,as you've pointed out. As it is, we've got to imagine how badly the Inhumans treated Pietro, how Crystal reacted, why Pietro chose to prove himself with the militia,etc.)
Posted by: Michael | December 24, 2013 6:49 PM
There's a much later story told with the idea that older alpha-level mutants (and maybe just males) have unstable children.
I agree that Crystal gets a bad rap for this affair. This happens all the time in real life, and doesn't make a woman a "slut".
Posted by: ChrisKafka | December 24, 2013 8:58 PM
Pretty much everything Engelhart does with Crystal and Quicksilver here, in FF, and in West Coast Avengers is horrible. He can't write relationship difficulties without going histrionically over-the-top. It makes sense that Crystal and Quicksilver might not work out, given their family backgrounds and that's she's always been adventurous and somewhat flirty while he's always been suspicious of outsiders and jealous--he's more on an Inhuman than she is in some ways. But Engelhart doesn't want them to just be characters, he wants them to be types to illustrate his own half-baked notions about relationships. I like a lot of Engelhart's work, including his upcoming Silver Surfer run, but he's the worst relationships-writer in comics.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | December 24, 2013 9:25 PM
Well, maybe...until the days of Chuck Austen.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | December 24, 2013 9:41 PM
Actually we find out in X-Factor Annual #2 that Quicksilver & Crystal's extreme bad behaviours here were because of Maximus manipulating them behind the scenes in another bid to overthrow his brother. There may have been problems all along but Maximus was magnifying them over the top.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | January 6, 2014 12:10 PM
The wacky looking nanny here may actually be Iridia with her wings folded down. The eyebrows look a bit like hers. Medusa had asked her to look after Luna in X-Factor Annual #2 so she may be a third nanny for Luna.
Posted by: Jay Demetrick | January 6, 2014 12:14 PM
The explanation of Maximus manipulating them was an obvious cop-out. IMO, the backlash from readers caused him to create a reason for their atrocious behavior.
Posted by: clyde | January 6, 2014 3:38 PM
I have to wonder if it was more Harras's love for Pietro than reader backlash. More on that when we get to X-Factor Annual 2.
Posted by: Michael | January 6, 2014 8:11 PM
That being said though it DOES seem like almost every "Crystal" storyline is about some type of "romantic entanglement" drama (with Crystal often being cast as a ditzy, needy homewrecker.) In addition to the storylines mentioned about, let's remember that she had yet ANOTHER (retconned-in) affair with the Sentry. And right when she joined the Avengers wasn't their some initial flirtation with her her former brother-in-law?
You could say that THIS story is probably the cause of Crystal being categorized in such a way in later stories, but again "Crystal makes goo-goo eyes at some yahoo (whether they are "attached" or not)" seems to be the defining narrative of her character.
Posted by: Jon Dubya | May 14, 2014 7:17 PM
I was still buying books when this came out so I'm surprised I didn't get it. Perhaps the 12 issues or the art put me off. Anyway, I skimmed the stories here after they were referenced in West Coast Avengers which has joined my "Re-Read" stack.
Posted by: KevinA | June 28, 2018 9:33 AM
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