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[personal profile] icon_uk posting in [community profile] scans_daily
Amethyst was a surprisingly missed opportunity by DC, it was born to be a toy line and cartoon series, in the vein of She-Ra, but was only ever a comic book. A darned GOOD comic book, but a comic book was the only media she ever made it to.

It starts with an almost standard concept, a Billy Batson/Nightshade-like tale, when a young girl, Amy Winston is mysteriously given an amethyst pendant on her 13th birthday and discovers it transports her to Gemworld, her real home, a magical place founded by ancient Earth sorcerers fleeing our world centuries ago, where twelve Houses all identified with a gemstone, hold power.

Amy is the lost heir apparent to the throne of Amethst, with powerful magic, and thanks to the difference in timeflow between Gemworld and our world she's now a beautiful twenty year old. Romance blossoms with the prince of the house of Topaz too...

She has to reclaim her birthright, and defeat the evil Black Opal, and then later, face off against the apparently insane sorceress Fire Jade.

It's a nice fantasy adventure series, never defined by being aimed at the young female readership which makes it work all the better. It had a 12 issue maxi-series (Dark Opal) and a 15 issue follow on series (Fire Jade and more). During the story, another princess of Gemworld, Emerald came to Earth a few times, as did another villain, Carnelian, in a DC Comics Presents I should dig out. It also had some great art by Ernie Colon, but that's not what we're here for today. That was just some scene setting. This is about the four issue miniseries which came out a couple of years later.

Crisis on Infinite Earth revealed that Amethyst was actually a Lord of Order (unknowingly). Two Lord's of Chaos had it in particularly for the Gemworld, the crystalline Flaw and the somewhat androgynous child known only as Child, and ultimately Amethyst became one with the Gemworld to protect it.

This story is set a good while after that, Gemworld time.

Believe me that picking the 8-ish pages from this 24 page issue has been a complete and utter &"*$^ of a task as it's all so breathtakingly beautiful, story by Keith Giffen, script by Mindy Newell and art by legendary Spanish artist Esteban Maroto. And sadly, and criminally, uncollected AFAIK.

We open with an old man waking up in Gemworld and going to visit a statue (via a double page spread of a magical forest it breaks my heart to deny you), a purple crystal statue of a woman... he outlines recent events to it as if it were able to hear him, when he's interrupted...

Someone appears to be hunting Snarf ! I approve!

Donal instantly sees the statue and is fascinated...

The old man asks if Donal has never heard of the story of Amethyst, Lord of Order...

But someone else is listening to this convenient, if brief, infodump, for in the Realm of Chaos they're about to have an infodump of their own.

Child decides that he's (It might be she, but remembering which pronoun to use is always confusing, so forgive me if I assume it's a male, it's brattier than Damian Wayne too) had enough of this, and sticking his hand into the image (where it turns into a massive scaled claw) he crushes the statue, but it might not have had the effect he desired... The old man mourns the loss of his charge and can't watch what is left when the claw withdraws...

I adore that page, it's so cinematic, you can hear the soundtrack miss a beat as the eyes flick open.

We cut to Earth, where Emmy, the former Princess Emerald is now living on Earth having been stranded there for ages. Whilst on the Gemworld enough time has passed for a new generation to have reached maturity (eg Prince Donal), Emmy is only now in her twenties earth--time and is married to a handsome psychiatrist. Not all is well between them, Emmy miscarried recently, and has been having nightmares and is generally stressed out. She's also starting to see small creatures from the Gemworld around her home and is worried she's having delusions. As it turns out she's not, but we'll deal with that another time...

Meanwhile back on Gemworld....

"...but the Lady Turquoise knows the strength in the willow that bends, and Lord Topaz knows the rose within the fisted glove". (I like the classic role reversal; she's the warrior, he's the artist and that's just the way it is) These two, who were contemporaries of Amethyst are now, obviously old enough to have children. The oldest is Donal, who we've met, and his twin brother Wrynn, their youngest is their daughter Amber. As parents, they are desperately worried about Wrynn, a loner, with something dark gnawing inside him...

They're right to be concerned as, in a deep cavern below the palace, in a dark and evil looking temple....

What emerges is the crystalline monster known as Flaw, and when Wrynn tries to control it, as he is the one who summoned it, Flaw just laughs, pointing out that it's the other way around, he's been calling to Wrynn for years, in dreams and whispers inside his head, and now he's the perfect conduit.

Back in the forest glade when the statue was, Amethyst is waking properly... Donal protests that the Princess Amethyst is a fairy tale, a story for children...

IIRC Amethyst and Topaz had feelings in the original series but as her role altered, they clearly couldn't be together.

Meanwhile, Flaw finishes what he started, and in doing so, channels chaos energy into Wrynn, to the extent that he's no longer exactly Wrynn anymore, and as such deserves a new name...

Yes, this was the first attempt ever to give Mordru an origin...

So, you like? You want to see more?

Date: 2010-09-11 09:32 pm (UTC)
leikomgwtfbbq: (Sailor Twinkie Unicorn Wicca Fudge)
From: [personal profile] leikomgwtfbbq
I always liked Amethyst. I'd like more X3

Date: 2010-09-11 09:44 pm (UTC)
cleome45: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cleome45
TBH, I quit this series in disgust after the whole Lord-of-Order/Let's-Fridge-Her-To-Bring-Her-Into-The-Mainstream-DC-'verse crap.

But, yeah. The pictures are nice. :/

Date: 2010-09-11 10:00 pm (UTC)
cleome45: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cleome45
Giffen's retcon+blinding (Hey, Amyethyst! Your mentor lied to you and your momma' was a cheating whore!) smacked to me a fridging, though nobody called it that at the time.

I'd completely forgotten that she'd done a crossover with Supes early on, and I would have been happier if that fact had never been referred to again.

It was such a great concept, and DC failed with it on multiple levels. First by not promoting it anywhere that it could have found a non-hardcore-superhero-fan audience, and then insisting on making it just one more hub of their main universe.

Hey, I'm a Legion fan, too. But the Mordru thing strikes me as unnecessary. The story would have been served just as well without it.

Date: 2010-09-11 10:17 pm (UTC)
cleome45: (Default)
From: [personal profile] cleome45

Okay. But mostly I thought back then that it would have been better to keep the Gemworld 'verse mostly self-contained. I like the idea of books that you can just hand an issue to somebody who hasn't looked at superheroes since they were small, and yet they can still appreciate the story. They don't have to ask a million questions or spend an hour on Wiki or buy thirty-six other comic book titles to get the full meaning of what they've just read.

I think that mentality was bad for comics as both a business and an artform back in the days of Original Recipe Crisis and its fallout-- and I still do. :(

Date: 2010-09-11 10:06 pm (UTC)
crabby_lioness: (Default)
From: [personal profile] crabby_lioness
Goddammit, when's this ever going to be collected? I've got the originals but they're so fragile by the time my children are old enough to handle them they'll have grown out of the optimum time for them.

Date: 2010-09-11 10:25 pm (UTC)
joasakura: (Default)
From: [personal profile] joasakura
ah, man. I always loved Amethyst! I have all the issues somewhere in storage. And Maroto's art is always a feast for the eyes.

Date: 2010-09-11 10:39 pm (UTC)
perletwo: blok made a funny (hee - blok & mysa)
From: [personal profile] perletwo
The great thing about this art is, it still feels like Ernie Colon's style from the original - just Frazetta'd up a little more. Nice when there isn't that disconnect.

ETA: st00pid HTML codes
Edited Date: 2010-09-11 10:41 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-09-11 11:10 pm (UTC)
perletwo: blok made a funny (hee - blok & mysa)
From: [personal profile] perletwo
Oh my yes. There were a lot of little details worked into masonry and furniture like that, and you can still see them here too. Somebody paid close attention to what made their source material so charming!

Question from the floor

Date: 2010-09-12 01:24 am (UTC)
schrodingers_fangirl: (Bones smile)
From: [personal profile] schrodingers_fangirl
Would we like to see more? Why, yes, verily a most vigorous mess.

So were there two separate series? A pre-DC series or two separate runs, both under the DC imprint?

Re: Question from the floor

Date: 2010-09-12 01:56 am (UTC)
kamino_neko: Kamino Neko's default icon... (Default)
From: [personal profile] kamino_neko
There were actually 3 series, all DC. (The first one was previewed in Legion of Superheroes.)

Re: Question from the floor

Date: 2010-09-12 06:02 am (UTC)
schrodingers_fangirl: (Default)
From: [personal profile] schrodingers_fangirl
Er...I meant a vigorous "yes." Damn Dreamwidth's inability to edit comments!

Date: 2010-09-12 04:43 am (UTC)
gehayi: (sophie of ingary (colorcharge))
From: [personal profile] gehayi
I definitely want to see more. This is GOOD.

Date: 2010-09-12 05:25 am (UTC)
ladytimedramon: Oso from Sheldon Comics by Dave Kellet (Oso Sitting)
From: [personal profile] ladytimedramon
I've been saying for years that Amethyst would make a great animated series.

Date: 2010-09-12 05:32 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] psychopathicus_rex
Ah, yes - I always liked what I've seen of Amethyst, which isn't much, but it's enough to get an idea of it. It's a shame that DC never focuses on its Sword-and-Sorcery elements anymore, because it's got some very promising ones.

Date: 2010-09-12 07:40 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ebailey140
Regarding the Legion connection that's been discussed... LoSH was written by Paul Levitz. Being the main boss, he wasn't going to be the editor of the book he was writing, so LoSH was edited by his assistant. That assistant became the editor for Amethyst, this being her big break.

The young editor in question, Karen Berger, got a few more titles added to her line, such as Swamp Thing, written by a crazy Brit named Alan Moore, and the rebooted Wonder Woman by George Perez. she followe this by bringing a then unknown writer named Neil Gaiman to reboot Black Orchid and start a new series titled Sandman, but with a completely different lead than any previous Sandman series. The rest is comics history.

Amethyst wound up being the beginning of Vertigo.

Date: 2010-09-12 04:16 pm (UTC)
meatwhichdreams: (Default)
From: [personal profile] meatwhichdreams
Hey, I didn't know any of this history, thanks for sharing. And didn't Gaiman put a shout-out to this series in the first Books of Magic?

Date: 2010-09-12 04:27 pm (UTC)
kamino_neko: Kamino Neko's default icon... (Default)
From: [personal profile] kamino_neko
I haven't read BoM (read the first few issues of the ongoing, was disappointed, never bothered checking out the original), but it would be strange if they didn't, given that the Gemworld was a fairly major part of the DCU's magical landscape by the time BoM came out.

Date: 2010-09-12 07:02 pm (UTC)
meatwhichdreams: (wondercrack)
From: [personal profile] meatwhichdreams
I can't speak for the books that followed (especially because what little I've seen I was disappointed by), but the first BoM I remember as being a thoughtful and deliciously unsettling exploration of what 'magic' means in human culture. It's not super cohesive or blow-your-mind profound but it's definitely an enjoyable read.

Date: 2010-09-12 07:48 pm (UTC)
kamino_neko: Kamino Neko's mildly shocked icon. (Mild shock)
From: [personal profile] kamino_neko
2 recommendations in less than 10 minutes, I think I'll take this as a sign.

Date: 2010-09-12 06:55 pm (UTC)
meatwhichdreams: (Default)
From: [personal profile] meatwhichdreams
I thought this all seemed familiar! Thanks!

Date: 2010-09-12 08:56 am (UTC)
skywaterblue: (desire)
From: [personal profile] skywaterblue
More would be good! They really should have snagged this title for Vertigo rather than letting it languish in a bin.

Date: 2010-09-12 11:44 am (UTC)
geoffsebesta: (Default)
From: [personal profile] geoffsebesta
Man is Giffen good at building worlds.

Date: 2010-09-12 01:18 pm (UTC)
geoffsebesta: (Default)
From: [personal profile] geoffsebesta
I don't mean the concept, I mean the many and various architectures, here and elsewhere.

Date: 2010-09-15 03:26 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] capnduckman
Definitely more, especially the original series, if you've got it.


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