Saturday, February 02, 2013

Nostalgia Review: Amethyst, Princess Of Gemworld 3

More troubles lie ahead for Amy and for Amethyst while secrets threaten to tear the Winston family apart, Dark Opal decides to take matters into his own hands, and Granch sets off on a kraa-aack!-filled quest as we take a look at Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld #3, cover dated July, 1983.

None of this happens inside the comic.

Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, “Tangled Web”
Written by Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn
Art and Cover by Ernie Colón

Edited by Karen Berger

We open in Fortress Opal as its evil master begins to – literally – weave a spell, and Carnelian enters in search of his father, finding himself startled and frightened as Dark Opal has truly gotten into the spirit of things and has taken on the form of a monstrous arachnid.
Carnelian has come bearing a fragment of the Citrine, the gemstone of the Witch-Mother Citrina, which Dark Opal stole from her years before.  While its power is less than that of his own Opal, he intends to use the gem as a means of trapping Citrina, whom he will then use as bait to draw Amethyst to him.
Amethyst and Taffy, meanwhile, are on their way back to Earth, where Amy discovers that the few hours she spent on Gemworld translated into two days on Earth.
After Amy makes her appearance, the genial police officer the Winstons had called to investigate their daughter’s (and dog’s) disappearence takes his leave, and Amy is not able – or willing – to answer the questions her parents are asking.  Marion – a child psychologist – attempts to coax some answers from Amy, but Amy has watched her mom work and knows her tricks.
Herb’s less-professional attempts at gaining Amy’s confidence backfire, as Amy shouts, “You’re not my real parents anyway!”
On Gemworld, Sardonyx has shown up to provide some exposition, explaining how two decades earlier Citrina had managed to spirit away the infant Amethyst to another world to be raised by adoptive parents, and had planned to slowly, and gradually initiate contact with her through the gift of the gemstone pendant that the little lizard creature had left for Amy back in the first issue.  However, the arrival of the rape-minded ogre in the Winston household forced Citrina to accelerate her plans.
We also learn that Dark Opal has been unable to produce a suitable heir, as all of the children he has sired have proven to be hideously deformed monsters.  After banishing his monstrous children, Opal sent one of his agents to another world to steal a child that he could raise as his own – Carnelian – and as it turns out, the world on which Carnelian was born was Earth.
It seems that as Opal’s agent travelled to Earth, Citrina followed in his wake, leaving no magical trail of her own, which is how she managed to hide young Amethyst away without being detected.
Dark Opal’s deformed children are a touchy subject, and while he’s pleased with Sardonyx for providing this information, he warns him to never mention his kids again “For they are no flesh of mine!”
This serves as the segue to Castle Amethyst where Granch informs the Witch-Mother that he is about to embark on a quest, driven by his personal animosity for Dark Opal, as it turns out that Granch is actually Dark Opal’s first-born son!
He intends to travel to the horrible nether-dimension to which his siblings were banished by their father to set them free and recruit them to the cause of Amethyst.
To aid him, Citrina provides him with two fragments of the the Amethyst.  One fragment will be left outside the entrance to the place of his siblings’ imprisonment, while he’s to hold on to the other.  The connection between the two fragments will ensure that he can find his way back out.
On Earth, Herb and Marion wonder how it is that Amy has figured out that they’re not her real parents, and we see yet another reference to Citrina.  Marion refuses to believe that Citrina has come back for Amy and says that it was just a lucky guess on Amy’s part.  Herb isn’t so sure.
At school, Amy is doing some research into gemstones, and we meet her friend Rita, who asks Amy to look up her birthstone…an Opal!  (Dun dun dun!)
On Gemworld, Granch finds himself caught up by one of Gemworld’s dangerous native creatures, a Wind Demon, which can tear him apart.  Luckily, Wind Demons get bored with victims who don’t fight back, so Granch lets it carry him along until it unceremoniously dumps him – rather painfully – against some jagged rocks.  It’s actually a net positive for Granch, as it’s brought him that much closer to his destination.
There he finds a big, crocodilian monster which he has to subdue if he’s to reach his goal.  After a vicious struggle that ends the only way it can – with a KRAK! – Granch emerges victorious, and the dead monster swells up in size.  It seems that the monster’s mouth is the entrance to the prison where his siblings await.
(I remember finding this sequence to be really gross when I was a kid.  I still do.)
Now the time has come for Opal to set his trap, and as Citrina sits musing about how all of her plans of the past twenty years seem to have taken on a life of their own, she hears a call for help that seems to be coming from Granch.  Certainly, Citrina can detect no threat, so she decides to release her spirit form to follow the cry back to its source.
The reason she detects no threat is because the bogus call is being sent Dark Opal through the fragment of Citrine, whose “friendly aura” masks his true intentions.  Citrina soon finds her spirit self trapped in Opal’s web.
On Earth, Amy sits in her room sulking about being grounded and considers running away to Gemworld for good, though she knows she couldn’t even if she wanted to at the moment, as the gemstone is still recharging after her fight with Carnelian.  She has to wait for it feel warm to the touch before she can return which, as if by magic…wait, not “as if,” but actually “by magic,” it does as she’s holding it.  Before she can bail on Earth, however, Herb comes by to have a heart-to-heart with her, and he promises her that “when the time comes” he and her mother will help Amy find out all about her birth parents.
Once he steps out to start making dinner, Amy concludes that she does need to find out more about herself and her parents, but she’s not going to wait.
Deciding that he should have pressed her for more information about how she found out she was adopted, Herb heads back up to Amy’s room just in time to see her stepping through a portal to Gemworld.
Up next, Amethyst comes face-to-face-to-face (there are a lot of faces involved) with Dark Opal at last, we meet members of some of the other Houses of Gemworld, and Granch has a family reunion that goes about as well as pretty much any family reunion.

Some Thoughts:
Despite the (gross) sequence with Granch fighting the monster, this wasn’t exactly an action-packed issue, providing more in the way of exposition than conflict.
What conflict the story does contain is on a more emotional level, as Amy struggles with the issues of who she is and where she belongs.  Despite how much the Winstons clearly love their adopted daughter, and how much she loves them, Earth isn’t her home, and as much as she would like to be just your average teenager, she knows that she’s more than that.
On the other hand, while the “more than that” part comes with cool powers and instant adulthood, there’s the whole issue of the powerful, evil sorcerer who’s bent on killing her.
And, while there are no additional incidents like that ahead of her, the multiple occasions on which she was nearly raped certainly don’t help matters any.
We also see the conflict raging within the hearts of Herb and Marion, as clearly Citrina’s gift of a child to them years before was a blessing, but it brought with it the fear that one day their blessing might be taken away from them, and now they’re finding that their worst fears seem to be coming to pass.
In this issue we also see that there are more connections between Earth and Gemworld than just the fact that it’s where Amy has been living, given that it’s where Carnelian is from as well, and with the strange “coincidence” of the twelve Houses of Gemworld matching up with the birthstones of the twelve months on Earth, one wonders if there’s even more of a connection between the two worlds.  (Hint:  Yes, there is.)
If there was ever any payoff to the coincidence of Amy’s friend Rita having an Opal for a birthstone, it doesn’t happen in the maxi-series.  For various reasons, I didn’t read much of the short-lived ongoing series that hit the stands a couple of years after these twelve issues, so I don’t know whether or not it was something that was explored there.

The Art:
Colón really excels at depicting the brutal, vicious action sequences featuring Granch, as well as depicting the strange and whimsical landscape and creatures of Gemworld.  The lovingly-rendered saliva that Granch slogs through on the dead monster’s tongue adds to the general grossness of that sequence.  Yuck.
If I were less lazy I would add in some scans from the issues, but…well, I’m not less lazy.

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