105. The Monster in the Streets

Issue One Hundred and Five, December 1970

“Except for my son — they’re the two people who mean the most to me — in all the world! And now I’m called upon — to sacrifice one of them! How can I do it? How? How??

While walking the streets of New York with Ben and Johnny, Crystal begins to feel unwell. At the same time, a rumbling shakes the street, threatening to topple nearby buildings. The three spring into action, but Crystal soon faints. Ben holds the buildings up and Johnny takes Crystal back to Reed to be examined. Meanwhile, Sue is out shopping when the street she is on also starts shaking as a ball of energy passes outside. This is being pursued by a Dr Zolten Rambow in a car, a colleague of Reed’s. At the Baxter Building, Reed examines Crystal’s blood and finds that since she is an Inhuman she does not have the natural immunities necessary to survive in the human world and he decides that she must return to her people. He also finds a ‘rare chemical ingredient’ that will potentially change Ben Grimm back into human form. Just then Ben walks into the room (presumably having dealt with the falling buildings) and on hearing the news decides to undergo treatment as soon as Crystal leaves. She does so very shortly, once Lockjaw comes to retrieve her. Extremely upset, Johnny takes to the skies only to be reminded of the trouble early as he comes across Sue and Dr Rambow engaging with the ball of energy which has dissipated to reveal a humanoid figure. Sue is holding it back with her force field and orders Johnny to go back and fetch Reed, which he does. However, Reed has already started Ben’s treatment and it would be dangerous to leave him now. He must decide if he is to abandon his wife or endanger his friend.

Although the summary of the plot is lengthlier than many, this is by no means a complex story. In fact, the characters themselves have probably never been more simply portrayed and there are several massive conceits that we must stomach in order to pallate this issue.

Ben’s transformation as shown by John Romita, Sr. This is part of the first retelling of the FF’s origin in this title since issue 11.

First, that not only Johnny  but Ben, Crystal, and, once he’s told, Reed all neglect to follow up on the disturbance that has been ruining buildings in New York. There is no excuse for this. Johnny may be self-centred enough to place it second to his concerns over Crystal but it is absurd for Reed to start treating Ben without even looking into it. (And whether that aspect is more absurd than Reed being able to visually recognise a “rare chemical ingredient” that would be able to help Ben is a matter for personal discretion.)

Crystal and Johnny’s separation is needlessly abrupt as well. Johnny is furious at having to say goodbye to her, so why doesn’t he simply go with her? Or arrange to visit her soon? At the very least we should see him wrestle with the issue internally. Instead he gets angry and flies off, suddenly remembering the situation earlier he comes across Sue and, showing the same murderous intent as Ben did when he launched a missle at Antlantis, he blasts an unknown energy form against the appropriately alarmed warnings of everyone around him.

More and more the characters’ reactions and dialogue has become less nuanced and more exaggerated until we’ve arrived at a point where Johnny’s dialogue is almost always angry, Ben’s is alternately sarcastic and clownish, Reed’s is superior to the point of being openly insulting, and Sue has a half-page monologue about how excited she is shopping. Crystal has shown a lot of potential for being a multi-dimensioned character and it’s hard not to think that it’s for this reason that she is arbitrarily dispatched in this issue.


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2 Responses to 105. The Monster in the Streets

  1. FF addict says:

    It is a shame that Crystal left the team in issue #105. I thought back then that Stan decided to drop her, as he probably did not wish to change the name of the comic to Fantastic Five. However, it is also possible that fans of Sue were complaining that Crystal was proving to be a more powerful and confident heroine than Sue and that therefore Crystal needed to leave. Who knows? Your guess is as good as any. Regardless, I think that Crystal should have stayed, as Johnny deserved a girlfriend.
    As for Reed, I still cannot believe the cliffhanger ending where he hesitates between choosing to save the life of his best friend or the life of his beloved wife.

    • The Reader says:

      It’s possible. But there’s no reason that a team can’t have more than one female character on it. But the choice certainly doesn’t make interior plot sense, and Crystal had been a member of the group for at least a year. Perhaps there were complaints, I don’t know.

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