“Is it him you love — or me?“
Johnny Storm finds that Crystal is tending to Pietro Maximoff, the mutant Avenger known as Quicksilver, in a fortified tower in the Inhumans’ homeland. She tells the story of how she came across him while he was injured after fighting a Sentinel and how they fell in love. Johnny becomes angry and he has just begun to attack Quicksilver when the entire city trembles with an earthquake. Black Bolt suspects Maximus the Mad is behind the disaster but after a brief interview they conclude that he is innocent. Then Johnny is attacked by two of the previously servile alpha primitives. This sparks off a huge revolt and it is only by herding and trapping the alpha primitives that the rest of the Inhumans are able to become safe. After finding out that the alpha primitives have also carried Crystal into the caves, Johnny and Quicksilver take Lockjaw and pursue her into the caverns. There they encounter a massive and powerful being who calls himself Omega.
The first thing to be said about this issue is that, with the exception of one page in which Reed and Ben appear, it is entirely the Human Torch’s story (and the first since the Lee/Kirby run in which we have not seen Sue Richards). It is penciled by guest artist Ross Andru, who is known mostly for his run on The Amazing Spider-Man. He brings a distinctive dynamism to the issue which accentuates the story’s change in focus, concentrating just on one member of the Fantastic Four.
This issue also contains two other notable firsts for The Fantastic Four as a title. We have never seen either Quicksilver or a mutant-hunting Sentinel before in this title. And although it only loosely connects with other Avengers issues (specifically issues 95 and 107), the light references are nonetheless quite effectual in opening the story up and explaining why Crystal would have a very good reason for not making contact with Johnny before now.It’s a distinctly emotional tale, and several more decades of tales will prove that while Crystal and Pietro’s relationship continues to have its breaks and starts, she doesn’t come back to Johnny for any significant amount of time. And the plot is surprising in comparison to last issue in that the themes are remarkably similar — those of lovers separating from each other. It’s unexpected because very rarely is the same theme used twice in such a blatant way, but it doesn’t seem lazy or contrived because Johnny and Crystal’s plotline has always been its own beast.Meanwhile, Roy Thomas is returning to the theme of oppression by picking up the notion of the alpha primitives that serve the Inhumans. He could just as easily have written them out and ignored them completely — they are such non-entities that I doubt any readers would miss them — but he takes what must have been a whimsical expediency on the part of Jack Kirby to add more complexity to the plight of the Inhumans, who are a race that has been persecuted, yet is persecuting another race at the same time.
It’s a good story, and interestingly told.