Saturday, March 23, 2013

Nostalgia Review: Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld 9

Diamonds prove to be an Emissary of Varn’s worst enemy, or at least try to, any rate, the Princesses Emerald make their move, Prince Topaz gets hurt because of course he does and also yay, Dark Opal is Gemworld’s worst matchmaker, and Amethyst proves her mettle on the battlefield in our latest issue, which has a cover date of January, 1984.

That is one busy cover.

Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, “Broken Homes”
Written by Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn
Art by Ernie Colón
Cover by George Pérez and Ernie Colón
Edited by Karen Berger

We start off by checking in on how Herb and Marion – and Taffy –  are coping with Amy’s absence.  Unsurprisingly, the answer is “not well.”
From there we jump straight back into the action at the House of Ruby where the last surviving Diamond Priest made his surprise appearance.
He assures all assembled that being the only one wielding the magic of Diamond makes him immensely powerful, and he hits the Emissaries with a magical blast.
The Emissaries shrug it off and strike back, first hitting the Diamond Priest with a fireball, and then spitting out some rocks at everyone else, one of which bounces off of Lord Garnet’s noggin.
He doesn’t take kindly to that, and gives one of the Emissaries a face full of sword.  Unfortunately, the Emissary doesn’t have a face, and so he sucks up the sword into the empty void where his face ought to be, and then spits it back at Lord Garnet.
Topaz takes one for the team and pushes Garnet out of the way:

"I'll live" is the worst thing Topaz could possibly say.

The Emissary quickly grows back his hand and takes a swipe at Lady Turquoise, who gets saved at the last second by Amethyst’s magic.
Before Team Amethyst can make a move, they find themselves buried under tons of rubble spewed up by one of the Emissaries.
Things aren’t looking good for Amethyst and friends, but we move on to check in with the two Princesses of Emerald, who are making their way to Castle Amethyst, only to find that the bridge they expected to find is no longer present, and it seems they have no option other than to use up some of their limited magic to cross a river.  However, it turns out that the younger Emerald shares her mother’s gift for speaking to faeries, and she requests some help from a group of them assembled on a nearby island.  The happy little faeries build them a bridge of flowers that allows the Princesses to cross.  Unfortunately, that stirs up some magical bugs who attack the Princesses.
The faeries, meanwhile, say, “Our bad,” and do nothing more to help.
Fortunately, Lord Aquamarine is sailing to Castle Amethyst and, detecting the disturbance, frees the sisters and brings them aboard his ship.
Back at the House of Ruby, Lord Ruby has finally decided that he can’t remain neutral any longer, and he frees Amethyst and company from the rubble, who were protected from the rocks by Amethyst’s magic dome, then turns his attention to zapping one of the Emissaries.
The attack makes it clear to Amethyst that the three Emissaries form some kind of circuit, which may be the key to defeating them.  She hopes that Ruby’s relentless assault on one of them will cause an overload, but alas, the Emissary, being something of a weird, otherdimensional version of Sasha Grey, can suck up everything that Ruby can dish out.
Once Ruby passes out from being so drained, the Emissaries resume their destruction of the House of Ruby.
Meanwhile, the Emissaries’ business partner Dark Opal is entertaining a guest:  the Lady Sapphire, who was left standing at the altar by Prince Topaz back in issue seven.
Dark Opal swears that he will live up to his obligations and find a man for Lady Sapphire.
Unfortunately, he seems to be doing all of his searching in the worst sections of the Gemworld equivalents of OKCupid and Craigslist:

Obligatory "Still a better love story than Twilight."  Also, a better choice than Topaz.

Sadly, it doesn’t turn out to be love at first sight, and so Dark Opal disposes of the would-be suitor in a fashion that’s a whole lot more flamey than just, you know, not giving him the rose that indicates he moves on to the next round.  Which, honestly, seems like it would make The Bachelorette a little more watchable…
In any case, Dark Opal insists that he’ll keep looking.
Back at the House of Ruby, Amethyst has finally figured out how to defeat the Emissaries.  One of them sucks, the other one blows, but as for the third one…

"Is that your final answer?"  Oh, wait.  I used the wrong dated reference.

Her intuition proves correct as all those assembled hit him with all they’ve got.  Suddenly the Emissaries are running scared and they beat a hasty retreat by diving into the open face of the weak link, who in turn reaches in and swallows himself up.
As Team Amethyst approaches the space where the final Emissary stood, the portal in the shape of his face hovers in the air, though it’s closing.  Looking inside, Amethyst sees that Lord Moonstone is still alive, trapped in that strange dimension that occupies the space where the Emissary’s face ought to be.  She reaches in, and with a little help from her friends manages to pull him free.
Citrina has been watching it all from her magical HDTV and is well-pleased with the young Princess.  She is less pleased when she checks in on Dark Opal and sees that he is seeking to “unleash powers no mortal should possess!”
However, she’s distracted by the arrival of Lord Aquamarine and the Princesses Emerald, and so she doesn’t see the channel change that would have let her know that Prince Carnelian is in hot – literally – pursuit of the fragment of Amethyst.  The little lizard turned dragon is none too eager to hand over the fragment, and Carnelian finds himself diving for cover in a filthy snail pit to escape the dragon’s flames.
Upon returning home, he ignores the japes that Sardonyx throws in his direction and plans his next move.
Up next:  Amethyst vs. Carnelian in a race to recover the gemstone fragment.  Also, Dark Opal has to deal with annoying – and creepy – bill collectors.

Some Thoughts:
While this is an important issue that helps drive the story forward, and it shows Amethyst proving to be an effective leader in the heat of battle, it kind of left me cold.  The battle with the Emissaries is ultimately kind of anticlimactic and not terribly exciting.
I did really enjoy the bit with Dark Opal just straight-up being a dick to Lady Sapphire with his “bungled” attempt at matchmaking, and I was also amused by Carnelian’s attempts at recovering the fragment, particularly with the thoughts going through his head that reveal a great deal about his character, and the kind of life he’s lived as the adopted son of an evil monarch.
”I’ve always had this trouble,” he thinks, as he runs for his life from the dragon’s flames, even as he assures the dragon that he meant it affectionately when he referred to it as an “overgrown lizard.”
”I simply can’t make friends!  Oh, a demon whelp once in a while, but those things never last!”
Still, I was kind of disappointed that the Diamond Priest fizzled out so quickly, especially after all the build up.  Oh, sure, it helped to demonstrate just how powerful the Emissaries of Varn really are, but…honestly, it kind of reminded me of Dragonball Z, where you’d have Goku building up his “spirit bomb” – for like fifteen episodes – then throwing it at Vegeta and, when the smoke finally clears, finding that it had no effect whatsoever.
Still, at least Topaz got hurt.

The Art:
Honestly, while not bad, it seemed kind of rushed.  I suspect that has a lot to do with why this issue felt so “meh.”
Loved the confused look on the Emissary’s “face” when everyone turned on him, however.  Who would expect that someone incapable of having an expression could look so expressive?

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