Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nostalgia Review: Amethyst, Princess Of Gemworld 10

Our story moves ever-closer to its conclusion as Amethyst vies against Carnelian for the lost fragment, the Emissaries of Varn demand payment for services rendered, and Prince Topaz continues to suck in this issue with a cover date of February, 1984.

This is no time for napping, Princess.

Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, “...And Into The Arms Of Death!”
Written by Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn
Art by Ernie Colón
Cover by George Pérez and Ernie Colón
Edited by Karen Berger

We open with Dark Opal reviewing a map of Gemworld in preparation for what he knows is the inevitable assault from the allied Houses.  One of the things that I liked about the magical nature of Gemworld is that its geographical and climatological conditions were responsive to its political conditions, and that its own nature would ultimately reflect the nature of its ruler.
Thus we see that the continent on which the various Houses are stationed has taken on a rather sinister appearance in the decades during which Dark Opal has ruled:

Turns out it doesn't look like that after you update Apple Maps.

Dark Opal is certain he knows what avenue of attack Team Amethyst will take, given his history of crossing swords with Lord Garnet, whom Sardonyx points out Dark Opal has never decisively defeated.
Sometimes I don’t think Sardonyx is especially bright.
While Dark Opal walks off in a rage, Carnelian is loaded for bear, or more accurately, dragon, and draws the attention of Sardonyx, who was left behind to clean up the mess Opal made as part of his Sardonyx-inspired tantrum.
The two have the requisite snarky exchange, and Carnelian continues on his way.
If I were Fred Savage in The Princess Bride, I would be complaining about the “kissing part” that’s coming up.  Even though I’m not Fred Savage, I am complaining about this part, not because of the kissing itself, but because of the lips involved.
Prince Topaz is back at Castle Amethyst convincing the Princess that he needs to travel back to Topaz Keep in an effort to recruit his sister in the battle against Dark Opal.  Amethyst is skeptical of his persuasive abilities, but she’s not going to make him stay, and the two share a kiss.  (Yuck)
The younger Princess Emerald isn’t as averse to seeing this as I am, but she is about as clumsy as I am, and soon the little voyeur’s presence is observed.
As Topaz chides the young Princess for spying, Amethyst advises him to not be too hard on her, as she’s just a kid, and Amethyst realizes that the young Princess Emerald is about the same age as Amy Winston.
The two share a bonding moment similar to the one with Jennifer Garner and that girl in the elevator in 13 Going on 30, but it doesn’t last long, as the younger Princess’s special abilities alert her to the fact that Amethyst’s gemstone is in danger.
They head off to consult the Witch Mother, and Citrina surmises that it must be connected to the fragment lost by the late, lamented Granch, and Amethyst realizes that she has to head off to retrieve the fragment before Dark Opal can get his hands on it.
The young Princess Emerald offers her services, as her magical abilities are tied to Gemworld itself and won’t be diminished on the enemy’s home ground in the way that Amethyst’s will.  Amethyst insists that she’s too young to get involved, but Citrina says, “Indeed?  I would have thought that you would be the last to set such a prohibition…Amy!”
Thus chastened, Amethyst is willing to accept the presence of a kid sidekick.
At Fortress Opal, Amethyst’s enemy is actually unaware of the presence of Amethyst fragment, and is busily working on his snazzy new breastplate, which only requires said fragment to be complete – the scene actually brings to mind Mr. Burns and his vest on The Simpsons – and while he and Sardonyx are discussing it we catch a hint of some backstory that may have eventually proved important, though it was never a part of this story, about how Dark Opal even managed to gain a fragment of the Garnet.  This, evidently, involved Lord Garnet’s son, who was not quite so dead as Lord Garnet believed.  However, before we can get any more details about this, our old pals the Emissaries of Varn show up, and they’re not happy.
It seems that, despite how things turned out, they’re still expecting to get paid.  For his part, Dark Opal has no intention of paying them, as they failed to deliver on their promises.  Taking another tack, they point to Sardonyx, who, you may recall, signed the contract on Dark Opal’s behalf with his own blood.  Sardonyx was the collateral that Opal put down, and should Opal default on the deal, the Emissaries are entitled to take the Lord of Serpents in lieu of payment.
Opal lets Sardonyx sweat a little, but ultimately declares that they’re the ones that have defaulted, burns the contract, and throws them out.
It seems that Dark Opal has made other deals with other demons – expensive deals – to give him the power to keep the Emissaries at bay.
Dark Opal then consults his own version of Siri for a reminder:

"Siri, what does my day look like?"  "I have something for you.  You are supposed to work on your breastplate."

Amethyst and Princess Emerald, meanwhile, are arriving just in time to find Carnelian in pursuit of the dragon.  However, the Red Prince has not managed to find a suitable replacement for the big cat vehicle thing that Amethyst blew up back in issue #2:
Based on many, many years of hearing them whizzing by all night long, I can tell you that they don't make that sound.

Amethyst can’t resist the opportunity to mock Carnelian, and pays for it dearly, as he fires some explosive that knocks the Princesses and their flying mount out of the sky.
Her allies back at Castle Amethyst are still hammering out the details of their battle plan, which leads to a private discussion between Citrina and the elder Princess Emerald about the state of the mental health of the Lady Emerald.  We check in on her and find that she remains unwell, having regressed to a childlike state.  Her Vizier’s attempts at talking her back from the ledge gets him a magical zapping for his trouble.
Amethyst and the younger Princess Emerald, meanwhile, are being menaced by the dragon.  As Amethyst remains unconscious, Princess Emerald uses her powers to entrap the dragon in some vines.  Carnelian hopes to use this to his advantage and begins shooting at the young Princess.  The gunfire rouses Amethyst, and the dragon uses its flames to burn its way free of the entangling vines.
Carnelian lobs a grenade at the dragon, which takes it down and serves as a wake up call for Amethyst, who realizes that she needs to get her act together.  However, she’s fighting entirely defensively, and is too late to prevent to Carnelian from getting hold of the fragment.
Another well-tossed grenade allows him sufficient time to escape.
When the smoke clears, Amethyst is feeling the weight of her failure, and she wonders how she can hope to defeat Dark Opal when she did so poorly against someone with no powers at all.
Speaking of failure, Prince Topaz.
More to the point, as we close the issue, he’s attempting to sneak his way back into Topaz Keep and he immediately gets caught because of course he does.  However, he does at least manage to learn that his sister’s reign is not a happy one, as she is giving in to a paranoid fear that she will not long remain in charge of Topaz Keep, and as a result the level of discontent within her military is rising.
Up next, the final battle begins!

Some Thoughts:
I like that we continue to see events from earlier issues begin to unfold as we move towards the final two issues, and, as we’ll learn, continuing to set up events that will come into play.  It was also important to see Amethyst suffer such a major defeat, as it helped to drive home just how daunting a task awaits her, and how vital it is that she be prepared to take on the challenge.
That the main continent of Gemworld is shaped like a skull is, admittedly, kind of cheesy, but I do like the basic idea behind it.
However, while I’m not much of a cartographer, I have to admit that the location of Emerald and Amethyst and their proximity to each other leads me to wonder where it was that the Princesses Emeralds were crossing into Amethyst in the previous issue.  I don’t see any sort of river dividing the lands, nor do I see the larger harbor in which Lord Aquamarine was sailing his ship.  Oh well.
Despite not liking Prince Topaz, I do like the internal conflict he represents for Amethyst, particularly when contrasted against her interactions with the younger Princess Emerald.  Despite her apparent age, and all that she’s experienced on Gemworld, at heart she’s still a recently-minted teenage girl, and the circumstances of her life – and the feelings she’s experiencing when she’s around Topaz – don’t really allow her the opportunity to properly grow into womanhood, as the expectation of most everyone she meets is that she is already a woman.
The lack of that tension is among the many things I don’t particularly care for in the latest take on Amethyst in Sword of Sorcery.  That version of Amethyst – Princess Amaya – is no older on her homeworld than she is on Earth, and in her Amy Winston persona she had already turned seventeen by the time she learned of her true heritage.
Due to its cancellation, there’s only one issue of that series remaining, and I have to admit that I’m not going to miss it.
One thing I will note, however, is that in that version of Amethyst the ruler of the House of Turquoise is actually a young man, who is clearly intended to be Amethyst’s love interest – there has been no sign of any version of Topaz so far, which is a plus – which leads me to wonder if I was correct about the subtext taking place in the original Amethyst in which Turquoise was a woman.

The Art:
Not really much to say on that front.  It’s up to the typically high standard, though I would say that’s it seems clear that Ernie Colón didn’t use much in the way of references when he drew that snowmobile…

Watch the complete series of animated Amethyst shorts from Cartoon Network’s “DC Nation” programming block.

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