Friday, November 30, 2012

Bonded By Cordiality

Given the degree to which Crystal of the Inhumans was involved with the Fantastic Four--first as Johnny's girlfriend and then as Sue Richards' replacement--it seems odd that the only two women of the early FF didn't really form that close of a relationship. Johnny was Sue's brother, after all; and Sue could certainly have helped to acclimate Crystal to the FF's fighting style. Yet the interaction with Sue and Crystal was kept at arm's length, their cordiality with each other being presented almost as a given. A lot of good characterization could have come of that relationship being built upon--and it could have made it easier for fans of the book to accept Crystal, once she took a more active role in the team.

Yet writer Stan Lee's handling of the two, on the almost rare occasions when they spent time together, was somewhat awkward--even bordering on impersonal. Neither really made much of their shared role in the FF; perhaps with Crystal's bond with Johnny being so strong, Lee felt it wasn't necessary to have her make any effort with Sue, or vice versa. Whenever he did pair them up, they took the occasional shopping trip; also, with Reed away on missions while Sue was pregnant, Lee made Crystal her caretaker for the duration:

It was only when Steve Englehart took over the writing reins of the book, and decided to make Crystal an active member again after a long absence, did we see an actual conversation between Sue and Crystal. And there was quite a lot for the two to talk about, though mostly the chat was a way for Sue to gauge Crystal's motivations for rejoining the team. After all, Johnny was now married to Alicia Masters--and Crystal was estranged from her husband, Quicksilver. Add to the mix that Crystal had also cheated on Pietro, and you can guess how the conversation played out. It was regrettably brief, though perhaps revealing enough for Sue's purposes; but for those of us who had been waiting for some form of extensive interaction between the two, even its short length was appreciated:

As you can see, Sue is still at the stage where she's a pleasant character, but not a particularly assertive one--and so she leaves well enough alone. But there's undoubtedly so much more ground for these two to cover, ground that I would have expected a writer of Englehart's talents to relish covering. Yet, as Crystal points out, the two women are of different generations, as well as very different women with clearly different pasts.  Perhaps their lack of common ground is just too extensive for there to ever be more than a cordial respect between the two.

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