Saving the world doesn't necessarily mean you go home happy. How's the mental health of your favorite superhero? A comic aficionado and a board-certified psychiatrist look at the various neuroses of your favorite heroes and villains and provide options for treatment.
Issue 133 - Crystal
New #BecauseComics moment per episode
Crystalia Amaquelin created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in Fantastic Four #45 (Dec. 1965)
She is unique among Marvel characters in that she has been a member of the Fantastic Four, Avengers, and Inhumans, as well as tangentially related to the X-Men
Crystal is a member of the Inhuman Royal Family, sister to Queen Medusa, with the ability to control the elements
She first encountered the Fantastic Four on the run from the Seeker, who wanted to destroy the Royal Family - saved by Johnny Storm, the two quickly fell in love
When Sue Storm Richards was pregnant with Franklin and left the team, Crystal served as her replacement
Left the team after discovering that her stay on Earth was poisoning her, as her Inhuman body could not handle the Earth’s atmosphere, and she returned to Attilan, breaking up with Johnny
In the process of Lockjaw teleporting her home, she encountered Quicksilver, who was injured battling Sentinels - she brought him home to the Great Refuge to help him recover, and over time they fell in love and announced their marriage
They had a baby girl, Luna, who exhibited no powers - Crystal forced Pietro to agree that Luna would grow up normally
Pietro’s temper grates on Crystal, and she has an affair with Wanda & Vision’s realtor, a human named Norman Webster - Norman ends the affair when he realizes Crystal is married, and Pietro initially refuses to attempt reconciliation
She attempted to renew her relationship with Johnny, but she found he was married to Alicia Masters (actually a Skrull in disguise #BecauseComics), and when an Inhuman crisis endangered the entire family, she and Pietro eventually reconciled
Joined the Avengers, and moved into the mansion with Luna and her nanny, Marilla
During her tenure, she became close with Dane Whitman, the Black Knight, who was himself the target of Sersi’s affections, all while Crystal and Pietro were working on reestablishing their relationship - this love quadrangle created many difficult situations, until Dane & Sersi were sent to another dimension
After Heroes Reborn, Crystal and Pietro were reunited, but Dane also returned to the universe, and when Dane and Pietro later fought over Crystal, she left them both to return to Attilan to think
After House of M, Pietro stole Terrigen Mists and exposed Luna, granting her powers - this act led to Black Bolt annulling the marriage
She was then betrothed to Ronan (by Medusa) as part of an alliance between the Inhumans and the Kree - the marriage was quickly ended, however, as a deal was struck with Black Bolt and the Supreme Intelligence
Made an Inhuman ambassador by Queen Medusa, leads the Royal Inhuman Diplomatic Mission
Out of universe - Focus on emotional impact of making those important decisions (35:14)
Doc: Hello Crystal, I’m Dr. Issues.
Crystal: Hi Doctor.
D: Thank you for meeting with me. I’m a little sad to see Luna’s not here, though.
C: She’s with my family. For better or worse I have no shortage of babysitters. It helps to know so many folks with superpowers.
D: Yes, you do have quite the list of friends and colleagues.
C: Which is one of the things I wanted to talk to you about.
D: OK, shoot.
C: I’ve been an Avenger, a member of the Fantastic Four, one of the Inhuman Royal Family, and affiliated with the X-Men. I hardly have any peers who have those kinds of connections. And my powerset means I can control all of the elements. Yet I always feel like I’m not taken seriously enough. I’m either Medusa’s kid sister, or worse yet Pietro’s ex.
D: So your primary issue is that of establishing an identity separate from those around you?
C: Yes, exactly!
D: I see. Well, my first thing I want to make clear is that being part of these groups isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and-
C: Oh I’m well aware, and I apologize if it came across as such. I’m proud to be included in these rosters. The relationships I’ve built over the years mean the world to me, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. It’s just… that’s not *all* of who I am.
D: That’s certainly frustrating, and I see why-
C: And that’s what few people understand. Pietro understood that...understands that? I don’t know...we’ve gone back and forth so many times. He’s so impulsive. I want him to slow down sometimes, but that’s not who he is, and then that makes me realize that I wasn’t understanding him...oh, it burns me up inside! *flame sound effect*
D: Relationships that are frayed don’t have to be completely incinerated...like you just did to that insurance form. Can we -
C: Oh no! I didn’t mean to take it out on your possessions! That reminds me of when I talk to Johnny. It’s weird. We work as great friends, but I sometimes go down a ‘what-if’ rabbit hole if I had built something special with him. But that’s not fair to him either. My mind is a tornado right now *wind noises*
D: I see...how demonstrative. *clearly frustrated* I’ll just restack those files a bit later. It sounds like you have tied so many parts of who you are to other people, that it even becomes tiresome for you to differentiate your motivations from those around you. How do you cope with that?
C: I make time for myself. At least, I used to. I’m not an absentee parent. Luna comes first. When I get a chance like this, I seem to be out of sorts. *water effects gently throughout her speech* I get flooded with thoughts of how she’s doing, if I’m missing something, if I should have pushed for more co-parenting, If I’m pawning her off too much. Am I making any sense?
D: *barely hiding his frustration* I am awash with inspiration on how to help you...and so are my shoes. The anxiety of parenting never goes away, but rest assured that one of the best things you can show your child is letting them face some of their own challenges.
C: *angry* Challenges?! She was kidnapped before! Caring for Lockjaw is a challenge! No, I won’t be a helicopter parent, but do you know what it’s like to lose the most important thing to your soul? You question reality. *earthquake effects* The ground you walk on might as well swallow you whole. Everyone judges you left and right. You judge yourself...harshly. It’s not fair. It’s not fair to her, or to me. I can stand on my own without a royal say-so-
D: CRYSTAL! STOP!
D: *Exhausted, but calm* Please...stop. I got the message. I’ve never had a patient connect so viscerally to everything that’s going on in their psyche. This is a private session, but it may be the greatest public example of what makes you...you!
C: So it’s just my powers?
D: NO! No. It’s the emotional intelligence fluidity. You are able to adapt to those around you and feel just as comfortable on a new team as well as with old friends. New bonds are capable of being as strong, or stronger, than prior relationships. That’s a trait that not everyone comes by easily. But there's an obvious peril with that. You’re always navigating a shifting hierarchy of personal priorities. That can be exhausting.
C: *sarcastic* You don’t say? I just… I don’t want to BE my sister, but sometimes I envy the straightforward manner with which she deals with situations. She’s the queen. Everyone knows that, so there’s no wishy-washiness. With me, it all depends on who it is and what they need. I know you’re saying that’s a good thing, but uggghhhh is it draining.
D: I get that. And I’m grateful that wasn’t accompanied by another power flux. What I would encourage you to do is to take a look at each relationship in your life, and determine how important it is to you. You don’t have to rank each one individually, maybe just use a few tiers. Then, if you’re in a situation where you have a choice to make, utilize the tiers to determine which one takes precedence. And let’s not forget about your own needs as well.
C: Hmm. Interesting idea. Well, it can’t be any worse than what I’ve been doing so far. Which is winging it.
D: Much of life is winging it, but with a bit more wisdom each time. The course corrections are less tricky with every turn.
C: I understand. Thanks for the advice, and sorry for the damage to the office. You can send the bill to Black Bolt. At least we know he won’t yell about it *heehee*
Recommended reading: Avengers: Bloodties, War of Kings
Next episodes: Emma Frost, Starfire, Children of super villains