Amethyst, they did you wrong (#SFWApro)

Some comic-book characters have many successful eras. Multiple creators put their hands to them and do well. Lots of people have turned out great Superman and Batman stories, for instance.
Other characters, it seems like only one person really makes them work. Such is the case with Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld. Created by Gary Cohn and Dan Mishkin, with stunning art by Ernie Colon, her stories under later writers have pretty much sucked.
Mishkin says in this interview that he and Cohn conceived Amethyst as living the classic childhood fantasy that you’re not ordinary, that there’s something truly amazing about you. They pitched it to DC, which doubted it would sell, but agreed to do a 12-issue limited series.
In the opening issue, Amy Winston turns 13 and learns she’s actually Princess Amethyst of Gemworld. Her parents ruled there but when the malevolent Dark Opal overthrew them, the sorceress Citrina took their baby to safety on Earth, where she grew up ignorant of her true parentage. Until, obviously, now.
On Gemworld, Amy ages instantly to 20 but she’s still her same thirteen-year-old self inside. Can she grow up fast enough to defeat Dark Opal and save Gemworld?
It’s a great premise that reminds me of Narnia in many ways, while others have compared it to anime “magic girls.” And now it makes me think of Emma on TV’s Once Upon a Time too. Either way, it worked, and worked well, wrapping up with Amy’s final victory over Dark Opal and a return home to her family (I don’t think I’m giving away too much). The Threshold blog has some individual issue reviews starting here.
Cohn and Mishkin wrote the story to wrap up in 12 issues and be done. However DC at this point (according to the Mishkin interview) had hopes of a toy tie-in and convinced them to launch a new series. The first eight issues dealt with Amy’s return to Gemworld, her battle with the sorceress Fire Jade and the secret of Gemworld’s creation; they were good, but Mishkin says he felt it was too awkward working past the end of the original series. He left, Cohn followed a couple of issues later.
Keith Giffen took over. Given that sales were tanking by then, I can’t blame him for trying something new, but this wasn’t the new thing to try. First we get an Everything You Know Is Wrong episode that reveals Amethyst’s father was actually a Lord of Order possessing Lord Amethyst’s physical body to battle the Lords of Chaos (Giffen had worked on several Law vs. Chaos stories when doing Doctor Fate). Chaos lord The Child then shows up with his brute-man servant Flaw and proceeds to destroy most of Gemworld. Then he goes to Earth and almost kills Amy’s father and her dog. And it turns out that Amy’s past life on Earth has been erased so her parents don’t even remember her.
I could have lived with the changes if Giffen had made the series any sort of fun. The earlier stories, even when things were darkest, was fun. Giffen’s work was utterly joyless. It’s cancellation after a few issues (ending with Amethyst sacrificing herself to destroy Child and save Gemworld) was a mercy killing. Though Giffen did get to do one four-issue miniseries with Amethyst later, and then turn her into a malevolent villain while he was working on Fate (another Doctor Fate-based series). I get the feeling he really didn’t want to work on the book.
I was much more excited when I learned Christy Marx would be reintroducing Amethyst into the rebooted DC universe, because I thought she’d do a good job. I was disappointed (stay tuned).
First cover by Ernie Colon, second by George Perez, all rights with current holder.


Filed under Comics, Reading

3 responses to “Amethyst, they did you wrong (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: Amethyst agony (Part Two, #SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Gary Cohn

    Thanks for the kind words.

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