Saturday, April 06, 2013

Nostalgia Review: Amethyst, Princess Of Gemworld 11

We find ourselves at the penultimate issue in which the Princess and her allies are bringing the battle to Dark Opal’s doorstep, Carnelian learns that you should never trust a snake, knowing Greek mythology can come in handy, and Jesus Christ the Emissaries of Varn are creepy.  All that and more are contained in this issue with a cover date of March, 1984.


Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, “The Last Battle!”
Written by Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn
Art by Ernie Colón
Cover by George Pérez and Ernie Colón
Edited by Karen Berger

We open on Prince Carnelian lounging around feeling rather pleased with himself as he holds the Amethyst fragment and considers the leverage that it gives him over his father.  However, his gloating is short-lived, as the fragment flies free from his hand and begins bouncing across the floor and away from him as though it has a mind of its own.  As he and his pet snake chase after it, Carnelian makes a last surge to catch hold of it, ultimately falling flat on his face before the feet of Dark Opal.
Opal informs the Red Prince that nothing happens in Fortress Opal without its master knowing about it.  Now it’s left to Opal to gloat as the final piece of his plan has fallen into place, and as Carnelian’s pet snake reaches up to receive an affectionate kiss from Dark Opal, the Red Prince realizes that his trusted companion has sold him out.
Outside, Amethyst and her allies have arrived, and the battle with Dark Opal’s army begins  While both sides take losses, Amethyst considers how many lives are depending on her, and, though for the life of me I can’t imagine why, she finds herself wishing that Prince Topaz were with her.  I guess maybe she needs some comic relief or something, as the odds are he’d probably slip on a banana peel in the middle of the fight.
In any case, we check in on the Prince, who has an audience with his sister.  His efforts to sway her to join Amethyst and her cause fall on deaf ears, until Lady Sapphire, his former fiancée, arrives and lets them know just how weird, even for him, Dark Opal has been acting.
Speaking of acting strange, we cut to the still grief-addled Lady Emerald, and it becomes clear to her Vizier that there is no reaching her, and that if the House of Emerald is to help to turn the tide of battle in favor of Amethyst, he needs to take action, with said action being murder, as he offers the Lady a poisoned goblet of wine.
While the battle rages on, Dark Opal has other things on his mind, bringing the Amethyst fragment to the blacksmiths forging his special breastplate that holds fragments of all of the other gemstones.  As he plots his final move, the mark placed on his hand by Citrina begins to glow once more, and Dark Opal curses her name and swears that she will be the first to die.
Hearing this, Carnelian wonders who will be next, and if there’s anyone on all of Gemworld who is safe.
Who indeed?  As Carnelian has the thought, a sudden wind blows through Fortress Opal, and the source is the doorway to the “realm between” appears to be the source.  The spell Opal used to cast out the Emissaries of Varn has worn off, and he does not have sufficient power to keep them at bay.  Not having time to deal with this, Opal decides that he will concede that he defaulted on their agreement and will provide the agreed-upon restitution:  Sardonyx.
The Lord of Serpents does not take the news well:

Places I Never Want To Visit:  Varn.

Citrina’s punishment flares up once more, but Opal seems to have developed some measure of control, and having casually tossed aside his oldest friend and ally, he struts along the hallways.  Everything is coming up Milhouse Dark Opal!
Outside, Dark Opal’s conventional forces are falling before the assembled might of Team Amethyst, so it’s time to call up the unconventional forces, in the form of a giant creature that crawls up out of the ground and attacks Lord Garnet.  It shrugs off even the most powerful of Amethyst’s magical blasts, but the Princess has a sudden insight that suggests that, like the mythical Ataeus, the creature gains its strength from the ground itself, and she tells Lord Garnet to hold the creature aloft.  The strategy works, and without its connection to the soil, the creature vanishes.
At Topaz Keep, it seems that the Prince Topaz is finally persuading his sister, now that Lady Sapphire has thrown her support behind him, though the Prince isn’t entirely inclined to be forgiving for the role his sister played in their father’s murder.  Still, they have bigger problems to deal with.
For his part, Carnelian decides to deal with the problem of betrayal, using his mechanical hand to choke the life out of his faithless pet.  As he finishes dealing with that betrayal, Dark Opal has some betrayal of his own to deal with, as it seems that, in the preview, which I haven’t read, Carnelian had sabotaged Dark Opal’s first attempt at creating a breastplate to harness the power of the twelve gemstones.  Not having time to deal with it fully, Dark Opal transfers the mark of shame that Citrina placed on his hand to the Red Prince’s head.
With that out of the way, he heads to the forge to try on his snazzy new breastplate.  He’s so excited to try on his new outfit that he can’t even bring himself to let it cool down.

He may be evil, but damn he's buff.  Also, I shudder to think what that smells like.

Meanwhile, having dealt with the first wave of troops, Team Amethyst has taken to the air again to continue the assault on Fortress Opal.  The Princesses Emerald have fallen behind,  In their haste to catch up, they’re oblivious to the dangers all around them, and soon find themselves in the clutches of some living, meat-eating trees.  Neither Princess has the strength to break free, and the younger Princess cries out for her mother.  Far away, the Lady Emerald, through the haze of the poison and her broken mind, hears the call, but it’s too late, and she closes her eyes forever.  Rest in Peace, Lady Emerald.
Back in the land of Opal, the elder Princess finds new strength that allows her to free herself and her sister, and while she doesn’t understand where the power came from, the younger Princess Emerald knows all too well.
The two Princesses join with the just-arriving Prince Topaz, Lady Topaz, and Lady Sapphire, and soon catch up with the rest of Team Amethyst, who have breached the outer perimeter of Fortress Opal, and while Amethyst understands that the relatively-unprotected Fortress itself is a trap, and that the troops they faced on the way were little more than a delaying tactic, she has no choice but to enter.
Up next:  The End!

Some Thoughts:
Though it only unfolded in a few panels here and there throughout the run, the tragic tale of the Lady Emerald has a lot of impact, and it was very sad to see her downward spiral towards her inevitable death, and that her loyal servant had to be the one to sacrifice her for the greater good lends it hat much more sadness.  It’s particularly disturbing to think that at the end the distant cry of her youngest child may have been enough to bring her back to herself, but the cry arrived too late.
The battle scenes themselves are actually pretty boring.  We really don’t see a whole lot of it, just a few fragments here and there, all of them focusing on the main characters, and they lack the vicious brutality of the assault on Fortress Opal launched several issues back by poor Granch and his siblings.
The sequence with the Emissaries of Varn taking Sardonyx away was disturbing, especially when you find yourself speculating as to what, exactly, they intend to do with him.
Ultimately, in these last two issues, I think that despite some of my complaints about decompression in contemporary comic book storytelling, we could actually benefit from things being a little less rushed.
Still, it was a solid issue, one in which we find many characters questioning everything they’ve done and believed, and we finally see Dark Opal’s schemes coming to fruition, and Amethyst herself taking the last step to fulfill her destiny.

The Art:
Creepy Emissaries are creepy, and holy god that breastplate sequence looks painful.  I can almost hear the sizzle.  Ouch.

No comments: