Sunday, January 5, 2020

BONUS BOOK - Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld (1983)


BONUS BOOK - Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld (April, 1983)
"Duel in Dark Magic!"
Writers - Dan Mishkin & Gary Cohn
Pencils/Letters - Ernie Colon
Colors - Tom Ziuko
Edits - Karen Berger & Dave Manak

Keeping with Insert Previews debuting in issues of Legion (since that's the longbox I just unearthed), we're going to take a look at the introduction of Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld.  This is a property we discussed here wayyy back in the long ago, and even prompted a visit from Amethyst co-creator, Dan Mishkin!

Ya see, I sorta-kinda suggested that Amethyst might've been... maybe a teensiest tiniest bit influenced by the character Magik over in Uncanny X-Men.  He assured me this wasn't the case at all.  He said it was just part of the comics zeitgeist at the time... and, honestly, that's good enough for me.

This Prevue was stuffed into the middle of Legion of Super-Heroes (vol.2) #298 (April, 1983)... one of many, many, many Legion stories I'll probably never get around to reading.

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We open in a Dark Keep on Gemworld, where a man called Lord Opal is being measured for a breastplate.  This piece must fit him perfectly... and, if all goes according to plan, he will be able to "unleash the mystic energies of Gemworld itself" with it.  Ya see, he is now in possession of ten fragments of Gemworld's gemstones... gem, gem, gem.  He thanks a weirdo named Sardonyx for his help... and, at this point, has entrusted his box'a gems to his goofball son Carnelian.  He laments that the only gem he is missing right now... you guessed it, the Amethyst!  Just then, a dullard bursts in with some news.


Looks like they've got a bead on the Princess of Castle Amethyst through a planted spy.  Turns out, she's on some sort of secret mission which has taken her away from the safety of the Palace and her Queen (?) Citrina.  Lord Opal decides this might be the best time to strike... and snag that Violet Gem.


Speaking of Amethyst... let's meet her!  At present, she (and her bestial escort, Granch) are about to enter the Bog of One Thousand Despairs... once, quite the tourist attraction, though far too commercial these days.  Okay, okay... it's just a bog.  Not sure exactly what their mission here is quite yet.


Lord Opal and Company are able to watch Amethyst and Granch via a handy "Well of Vision"... and a trio of bird-faced hags.  They celebrate finding her... however, since so much of the world is desolate and boggy... they can't exactly pin-point her location!  Lord Opal gives a rather chuckleheaded smile all the same.


Meanwhile, Opal's nudnick son Carnelian is off in the corner playing with his snake and baubles.  Err, that is to say, his weird pet snake and that box of Gem-Shards.  He doesn't seem overly keen at the prospect of his adopted father gaining all of these magical powers.  Hmm...


Meanwhile, Lord Opal has decided to send a ferocious dragon to Amethyst's location.  Least I think that's what's happening anyway... the art isn't overly clear here... though, I might just be a bit too dense.  Anyhoo, the dragon makes short work of Granch, kayoing him with ease.


Amethyst responds by blasting the ever-loving stuff outta the beast!  Lord Opal looks on via the well-pool, and suggests he might ought to try a different approach next time.


And by "next time", I mean right friggin' now.  Lord Opal's next "gift" comes in the form of a tornado.  Amethyst "outsmarts" the twister by having Granch toss a whole boulder into its funnel.  When asked how she thought of that, the Princess responds with an offhanded remark about having messed up a garbage disposal with a steak bone once before.  Hmm.  This infuriates Lord Opal... however, his frustration is short-lived.  Ya see, the Hags have discovered both Amethyst's whereabouts and destination.  Guess who's coming for dinner?


Meanwhile, at the Forge... Sardonyx oversees the forging of Lord Opal's bedazzled chestplate.  He's feeling overly cautious, and somewhat suspicious of Carnelian... and with good reason.  Elsewhere, ol' Carny is plotting how to stop his Father from attaining high-power.  And by "plotting", I mean, he just repeats to himself (and his weird snake) that he can't allow this to come to pass.


Then, the Blacksmith gingerly places the bedazzled chestplate into the forge... and Carnelian secretly "turns up the heat".  From this, something very strange happens!  The forces of chaos (or just chaos in general) are psychedelically unleashed all ova da place!  Carny looks on... we know he had concocted this mishap, but he's still somewhat surprised by this result.


Back at the wellpool, Amethyst and Opal exchange pleasantries... which is to say, Opal yells a lot... and fires off energy blasts.  Amethyst takes this opportunity to snatch up a... fistful of water?  I didn't know water could travel in "fists", but we'll allow it.  She and Granch then go to scurry off.  Looks like procuring water from the "Well of Vision" might've been Amethyst's mission!


Opal, not wanting the Princess to escape, transforms the trio of hags into a three-headed hydra... and sends it off to halt the escape attempt.  He then heads down to the forge to don his chestplate... and discovers the strange scene of chaotic horrors.  He is thankful that this mishap did not occur with all twelve stones set in place... because that could have meant the end of Gemworld altogether.  He nyoinks the Dark Opal off the chestplate... which somehow renders the "lunatic enchantments" inside the forge to be quieted.


Outside, Amethyst and Granch are caught by the hydra.  The former tosses the well-water to the latter and instructs him to make a clean getaway.  Naturally, he refuses... but she ain't havin' no backtalk.  She zaps the beast's talon which releases Granch to the ground below.


She then blasts the Hydra right between it's eyes... and eyes... and eyes, which reverts it back to the trio of bird-faced hags.  All four begin to plummet toward ground, however...


... Amethyst opens up a portal of sorts, which she falls through.  On the other side, she, as a child... lands in a bed.  Well, she kinda bounces off the bed and lands on the floor, but you know what I mean.  Upon hearing the racket, "Amy's" mother calls out to her... to which, our gal just reports that she had a "bad dream".


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Okay, this wasn't my favorite... but it ain't Amethyst's fault!

Ya see, the most interesting part of Amethyst to me is... the duality.  Ya know, having a child in the "mundane world" actually be a super-powered Princess in Gemworld is a very fun idea.  Unfortunately, that only appeared in this Preview in order to subvert our expectations for the series to follow.  I mean, I can't fault it that... it's a heckuva subversion, and I'm sure it caught plenty of readers back in 1983 off-guard.  It's just less interesting to me in having all but a couple of panels of the thing occurring in a far-flung fantasy world.

Outside of ElfQuest, I've never been a big fantasy/Sword & Sorcery comics fan.  Conan and Red Sonja bore me to tears... Arion and Arak (who we'll be meeting in a few days) put me to sleep... Heck, I struggle with Warlord... which is something I'm not sure I'm allowed to admit online.  Sheesh, I hardly ever enjoy Thor over at Marvel!  That's not by any fault of this story... it's just my own personal tastes.  When it comes to comics (and the limited amount of time I get to actually read 'em nowadays), I suppose the kids today might refer to me as "basic"... I like superheroes.  There's another thing I'm not sure I'm allowed to admit online!

That said... I do appreciate the world-building Mishkin and Cohn engage in here.  In the limited amount of pages they're given, we get a pretty good idea what the "layout" of Gemworld is.  It would appear as though there are twelve "Kingdoms" all represented by a different Gem.  I'm guessing they'll be the Twelve Birthstones... but, I've been wrong before.  Lord Opal looks to be the main baddie... with Amethyst being the sole Gem he has been able to procure for ultimate control over the World.  He's got an adopted son, who isn't quite sure about his plans... and who I could see flipping sides, and perhaps even becoming romantically entangled with our lead.  It's all good, in as far as the "nuts and bolts" are concerned... however, the straight "fantasy" approach in this preview was just a bit too dull for me personally.

6 comments:

  1. I always thought Amethyst was a mash up of Conan, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel (the Shazam one), and Power Pack.
    It would be interesting to revisit this concept in a post Game of Thrones world.

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    1. I know Amethyst has been "around", and had a series at some point during the New-52, but I couldn't tell ya a single thing about it! I wonder if the folks at DC evoked any GoT themes into her story!

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  2. My only experience with Amethyst is the current Young Justice series and that series is seriously getting on my nerves. I don't think it's Amethyst's fault it's the way comics are written these days how the issues read super quick and it takes them a year or more to do one thing! I don't mind multiple part storylines but it used to be once an arc was over that was it and they'd move on to something else. Not anymore. Now we might get an occasional one and done story (and I think we need more of those and less long drawn out stories) but that's rare. Sorry I went off topic but I assume I'm not the only one frustrated by this. Back on topic from this review I think I'd find this series pretty boring myself.

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    1. Oh man! Don't get me started on the new Young Justice, haha! I made it about an issue and a half in before just bagging it. I still have it on my monthly order (because I'm an idiot), but haven't been able to bring myself to actually read the thing in forever!

      This (Amethyst) series is weird... there are parts that I have a lot of fun with... and other parts that are dreadfully dull!

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  3. I remember reading the original Amethyst run a few years back and realizing that there really isn't anyway to fit this preview into the continuity of the maxi-series that followed. The timeline and character designs just don't match up. Still, I think it makes a nice introduction, at least thematically.

    I also want to point out that Ernie Colon's art is exceptional. He did it on scratchboard, where instead of a blank page the artist starts with a black page and then scratches to make white appear. A very demanding, labor intensive, and time consuming way to produce comics -- especially when you consider he was doing the lettering directly on the art -- but it really gives the preview a unique look. IIRC, Colon went back to using standard techniques for the twelve issues that followed.

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    1. I didn't know that Colon worked on a scratchboard for this! That's really awesome!

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