Sunday, April 18, 2010
The Tragedy Here Was the Marriage, Not the Divorce
I'll level with you right away that my first exposure to Pietro as a romantic hero was Age of Apocalypse. He had a sweet romance with that universe's Storm, and it really got me on the side of the character. I sought him out in X-men, in Essentials reprints, and in his own series during the 90s. There was something absolutely engaging about this woobie fanfic mode Draco Malfoy living Luke Skywalker's life at superspeed, so I ended up devouring any appearance he made in anything. I ended up really fond of him, his sister and his little daughter before I ever read anything with his wife.
Then I finally met Crystal in X-Factor back issues. There's a story where Pietro tries to mend his marriage by going to a little log cabin. External forces take pictures of Crystal sleeping with another man, and Pietro's approached by a shadowy PI type who shows them to him. he gets mad at the guy, denies the thing, but goes back to the cabin in a foul mood. He doesn't tell her what's wrong, and Crystal ends up crying and leaving early. I remember thinking at the time the pictures were forged and Pietro would eventually see the truth and feel horrible, and that he was in the wrong.
Then I read more of Crystal. The whole reason for the marriage breaking up was her having an affair, and there's the implication she's actually a serial cheater (and you know what, I'm not interested enough in Crystal to track down all the instances of her romantic tension with characters who aren't Pietro and analyze them for whether or not she slept with the guy just to quibble it out with Crystalfans on the internet. I'll do that for Sue Storm and Reed Richards in an online argument, but Crystal met Pietro while she was linked to Johnny, and she's got at least one established affair during the marriage, and from that point on any plot with her and Pietro either revolved around Luna or that threat that she would have another affair.) This didn't make me HATE her, but it did make me think that this was pretty doomed marriage as she had already broken the trust and a major character trait for her husband was that he didn't trust easily.
Aside from that, she just didn't interest me. She was flat, sweet, smiling and had a temper for the purposes of the plot. She seemed to exist to fret over the baby, and give Pietro a reason to act like a dick. Crystal didn't even fit the wife role very well before the writers decided to break up the marriage, because she was never as entertaining in a scene with her husband as his own sister was. She was never as entertaining in a scene with her husband as his brother-in-law was. Crystal just didn't compliment Pietro like Vision complimented Wanda. Vision and Wanda had opposite temperaments, but similar values and histories (Ultron is a mechanical Magneto, after all). Vision and Wanda shared their troubles and triumphs, and smoothed out each other's weaknesses with their strengths (Vision's logic and self-control to Wanda's emotion was traditionalist, but they suited each other). Crystal's flaws only amplified Pietro's flaws, which amplified Crystal's flaws. Their backgrounds were too different. Crystal was a princess and Pietro lived much of his life as a poor outcast criminal; and Crystal was a alien woman, a modern creature of science from the moon while Pietro was a gypsy boy with a witch sister from a fairytale mountain. Opposites attracting is a fine story when we have a common thread in the wildly different settings, but Pietro and Crystal didn't share enough of the "human experience" within those settings to bond over like Vision and Wanda did with their respective fathers, origins, and treatment from the outside world.
The marriage seemed like an editorial directive to free up Johnny Storm and get Wanda's overprotective brother out of the picture while Vision wooed her. Pietro's reasoning seems to have been that she was the first woman he ever got close to. I think Crystal just liked the old-fashioned romance at first. Really, though, I didn't want her to die but I wanted that marriage over with for good so that Pietro could have a new love interest.
I only hated her after Son of M. There's a scene where he gets jealous because she gets a flower from someone else, and I think he even hits the guy. Now, if I didn't know the history to this marriage, I'd say that Pietro was insane dick that she should dump and no one should ever date here. And if it were any other marriage at Marvel, and we saw T'Challa getting told off by Storm, or Scott by Jean, or Reed by Sue... Yeah, I'd side with Storm, Jean, or Sue because while the latter two have tension with other guys, none of them have done anything to justify jealousy. Hell, I'd side with Crystal, even, if her reaction was "Can't you control yourself? You're overreacting! He didn't mean anything, and it was just one mistake and you can't ever seem to let it go!" instead of what it was, which basically amounted to "You're a backwards human who isn't as enlightened as us. Stop acting like you own me. That's why the marriage didn't work out." CRYSTAL who actually had an affair and gave Pietro plenty of reason to be jealous, calls him "primitive" and possessive and basically lays the blame for the marriage not working out at his feet when the cause of the tension is her not keeping her word to be monogamous. Basically, she regards him as a caveman and feels she's never done anything wrong in this whole fiasco when she's the one who is OATHBROKEN at that point. Like many fans, she puts herself up as blameless and enlightened, when SHE broke the marriage contract. It comes off as her REALIZING she can't hold to the marriage contract, but saying "fuck it, I can do what I want because I'm an enlightened being and he is an asshole if he expects me to hold to it." Hell, under Hine all of the Inhumans look down their noses at him, and treat him as an irrational lower life form.
To make matters worse, the way Son of M unfolds I'm supposed to sympathize more with her because she's in the right when it comes to Luna, but I'm too busy being pissed off at her condescending attitude towards her ex-husband after all her bullshit to care about her anxiety as a mother. It would be different if they'd well and truly ended the marriage before like they did in Silent War, because they were such a bad match but they kept trying over several freaking decades to fix it so it came off very badly.
Honestly, she's supposed to be the sympathetic party in Silent War too but all I could think was "He's incredibly sick and needs someone to just grab him and toss him in Detox, and you are the only family around who can DO that right now since the rest are depowered/having a breakdown herself" but she cuts him loose THEN of all times rather than ending it during the several years when they knew it wouldn't work but he's strong enough to handle it and move on. She just kicks him to the curb. And it's irrational, because she's in the right to annul the marriage and I've been wanting them to divorce the two for years but this just served to get me pissed at her. Really, they need to catch him and toss him into detox and she just makes it so he HAS no one. But oh, she tried to make the marriage work because she LOVED him so much back when he wasn't in real trouble. That's probably also the fault of Son of M because that's she went from merely uninteresting to awful to me.
I'll admit that Abnett and Lanning redeemed her quite a bit to me. I've read some of Realm of Kings, searching for Lorna and Pietro, and they've managed to upgrade her from hateful to irritating. I still don't like Crystal, I don't want to read about Crystal, and I sure as hell don't want to read about Pietro and Crystal married anymore. She's probably a better wife for Ronan, and he's probably a better husband for her than Pietro. (Pietro would be a better husband for a lot of women than Crystal.) I do feel bad for her when she finds out about the Lie, and I side with her if she socks him in the face when he tells her. He deserves it for the Lie. But if she pulls this "You are so primitive, and this avoiding responsibility and openness is what caused our marriage to fall apart" bullshit, she loses that. It's good to see with her calling Pietro on bullshit, but when the blame is laid entirely at his feet and he's labeled as a "bad husband" to a "good woman" when really it was just an unsuitable marriage, I've got issues with that.
Maybe I'd side if there were something in her character I could relate to. But she's always been just generic and sweet with a hint of temper. She's no doormat, true, but she doesn't have anything going for her as I see it.
Add to that that in multiple Alternate Universes, Pietro is paired with the infinitely more interesting/likable Storm and shows none of the negative traits that feed his marital tension with Crystal. On the contrary, with Storm he's a sweet and devoted romantic hero. There's major differences in personality there, and while Pietro is more grounded and controlled in Age of Apocalypse, for example, he's also with a partner who never broke his trust, and I believe that's the bigger difference.
I don't want Crystal dead. That would suck, because then someone would bring her back to life and Luna would be sad. But the marriage was simply a bad match. They don't truly suit each other like Vision and Wanda did, and the big part where they differ (fidelity) is a dealbreaker for Pietro. Pietro married the first woman ever interested in him, and Crystal married the guy who seemed more stable than the Human freaking Torch. She needs someone less temperamental who can deal with an open marriage. He needs someone monogamous and modern, but who isn't condescending to him over his being old-fashioned. He needs a woman with a logical, stable outlook who controls her emotions, a female version of the old Vision, really. Someone who won't break his trust, and if the storyline happens that he thinks she's cheated it'll be revealed as a villain hoax and he can beg for forgiveness and she can forgive his flaws. He needs someone who can be his rock, really, like Vision was Wanda's rock. And even with all her strengths highlighted, Crystal's too soft and flighty to be the rock in a relationship. The best thing to come out of Silent War (even though it made me mad at Crystal and was set up to put the blame for the end of the marriage entirely on Pietro even though Crystal's the one who dissolved the bond to begin with) was they finally got the divorce, and it just needs to stick.
Update: Oh, Crystal. This is pretty low.