Saturday, October 01, 2005

Amethyst was a Jewel


In the DCU, there are three great pillars upon which most magic is built:

Dr. Fate? His swag comes from Gemworld.
Dream of the Endless? Connected to the gems of Gemworld.
The Lords of Order and Chaos? Yep, Gemworld.
Mordru? Comes from Gemworld.
Arion? Emprisoned on Gemworld.
Zerox the Sorcerors' Planet? Used to be Gemworld.

Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld is one of the most important comics in the entire DC Universe, yet it wasn't until last night that I finally read it for the first time.

Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, wasn't supposed to be a pillar of the DCU. It was an experiment, designed specifically to attract young girls to reading comics (perhaps the first DC comic book to have that as a clear goal since Wonder Woman debuted over 40 years before). DC hoped to attract girl readers with a character rooted firmly in the fairytale princess genre.

Amethyst (a.k.a. Amy Winston) first appeared in an insert story in a Legion of Superheroes comic book (LSH 296, FEB 1983), a teaser for a 1983 "maxi-series"with a pre-set 12 issue run. I was in college at the time; Amethyst just didn't make it onto my reading list, as I'm sure you'll understand.

Amethyst could have been just a silly "Rainbow Brite"-style ponies-and-princesses story, and frankly that's what I was expecting when I read it. To be sure, it has many trite tropes of the genre: Amy Winston learns on her 13th birthday that she was adopted and that she's actually a princess of an other dimensional world of magic, whisked away to earth as an infant when her planet with overtaken by a evil despot (Dark Opal).

But somehow, either through the genius of the writers (Dan Mishkin & Gary Cohn as enhanced by the art of Ernie Colon at the top of his game) or the crosspollination with other comic book genres (such as superheroes, sword & sorceror, and even some heroic animal comics), Amethyst transcended expectations.

Don't believe me? On page two, Amy's a happy little suburban girl, anxious to open her birthday gifts. By page six, she's about to be raped by two large trolls. You heard me. Amy is physically older when she's in Gemworld, which in the hands of lesser writers would have culminated with "now I can wear grown-up dresses and jewelry, whee!" But this is not fairyland, it's Gemworld; Amy has to deal (repeatedly) with the ugly fact that being the adult Amethyst has its unpleasant side. A kidnapper (albeit one more handsome than a troll) starts to rape her in issue 2; he does not succeed. It's now one of my favorite "calvary to rescue" scenes in all of comics, because it teaches an important lesson: do NOT **** with dogs.

Gemworld itself had a rich backstory and a host of interesting characters and, impressively, the "real word" supporting cast was well fleshed out, too. Amy's adoptive mother was a child psychologist who would naturally use her "techniques" on Amy -- and Amy, no fool, would call her on it. Amy's father, an English professor at Hudson University (anyone remember Hudson U?), was a model parent in dealing with Amy's complicated situation, without coming across as a ridiculously "perfect person". And Amy's dog, Taffy? Taffy is one of the DCU's Top Five Dogs of all time (with Krypto, Ace, Rex, and Pooch).

A few years after her maxiseries, Amethyst got a regular series, but the Crisis was fast approaching and Amethyst did not survive it. But both pre- and post-Crisis, something odd happened; writers and editors kept linking bits of DC's magic-verse to Gemworld. A lark? A fanboy nod? A simple snowball effect? Regardless why it happened, a lot of the magic left in the DCU (well, at least before the Spectre got snitty about it) is linked somehow to Gemworld. In a sense, you can't really understand the big picture of the DCU without knowing Gemworld.

Yet (to my knowledge), Amethyst's series have never been reprinted.

DC: why have you not gathered Amethyst's two series in trade, archive, or showcase format?

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Comments:
I read Amethyst when I was a pre-teen, and I loved it since there were so few series out for girls. It does seem like a natural series to collect, I don't understand why DC hasn't issued trades for this series.
 
Possible in digest format would be the best, to compete with manga on the bookstores. Really, what is DC thinking?
 
The same thing they thought when they decided that the best writer for what could have been an ideal comic for teenage girls was Jeph Loeb, thus ensuring that no female who wasn't already a Loebette would be remotely interested.
 
Why wasn't Gemworld collected? No idea. It holds up, is both excellent and scary as shit. I have only the first issue and it is some mad, mad stuff.

(mumble, mumble check out my blog: http://sketcheryweb.blogspot.com/ )
 
Somebody asked about Amethyst coming back at the DC Panel at Wizard World Boston this week. He was openly mocked by the DC guys, so I'm thinking there's not a lot of respect for this property at DC...
 
Put it in the new DC Showcase format. If Metamopho can have one, why not Amethyst?

Oh and Scip...give me my danged Amethyst comics!
 
Call me crazy, but maybe it's not being collected because it wasn't a big seller and there is little demand?
 
Crazy.

Everything mystical is being linked to Gemworld?

Huh.

Remember in the nineties, when every dang mystical thing tied into the Lords of Order and Chaos?

Man, that was boring.
 
"Call me crazy, but maybe it's not being collected because it wasn't a big seller and there is little demand?"

Yeah ... not like, say, "The Blackhawks Archive"...
 
or "Essential Metamorpho"
 
Remember in the nineties, when every dang mystical thing tied into the Lords of Order and Chaos?

Except the Amethyst to Order/Chaos is a close meld. So everything is both linekd into order/Chaos (Mordru anyone) and Gemworld.

What was the name of the mini-imprint that had Baron Winter, Fate, and a few other titles? That ahd Amethyst conquering all the magic. And she was some evil sexpot in that.
 
Amethyst was one of the 'every mystical things' that got unfortunately linked to the lords of chaos, and the title went straight downhill after that.

And, as a result, you eventually wound up with Mordru getting Lord-of-Chaos taint all of him; another unfortunate happenstance.

If there is any reprint/revival, it would do best to utterly ignore everything from the Crisis Crossover onward...
 
"Essential Metamorpho"

... isn't that an oxymoron?
 
I was 12/13 when this maxi-series came out. I remember enjoying it immensely. If DC would collect it in some form I would definitely buy it. As a librarian I think it would be very popular, it could be a gateway comic for some kids. (No it wasn't my gateway comic, my gateway comic was the New Teen Titans.) I think is should be reprinted in the manga size but in color, like the Marvel Age books.

I remember Hudson U., Dick Grayson dropped out of Hudson.
 
Essential Metamorpho? Only if it's preceded by Swing with Scooter Archives!
 
What? All magic? Even Johnny Constantine?
 
So...Brad Meltzer didn't originate rape in the DC Universe?!?

MY GOD! Everything you know is wrong!
 
Don't suppose you could update or email where Morpheus of the Endless got tied to Gemworld?

Lamashtar@aol.com
 
Well spotted, Scipio. I remember reading and enjoying the Amethyst comics despite being a 9-year old boy at the time, so surely it has a wider appeal than DC seems to think. I'd be all for a reprint, but preferably a full-colour tpb reprint of the maxi-series at least.

Seriously, I'm glad she was wiped out in the COIE. I'd hate to have re-discovered the character in an angst-fest mini-series called 'Amy Winston: Girl of Two Worlds' circa 1991. Eurgh.
 
I loved and own this series, Dark Opal is one cool villain and a brilliant design. For those who may be interested I recall the first issue of the maxi-series got a very favorable review in The Comics Journal (of all places)- didn't Karen Berger edit this series and Legion where Gem World was linked to Modru's origin?
 
I started to read Amethyst as a 12 year old.Initially because my sister started collecting the series, and I fell in love!! We both bought all of the first series and continued with the rest. I wish that DC would reprint them as I would love a new printed version, or turn her into an animated series!
 
I have never read one of these comics but I am looking forward to trying to find them. My name is Amethyst that's why. That is my name and I really can't wait to meeting Amethyst in the comic
 
Good Job!: )
 
This will not really work, I suppose this way.
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Amy's father, an sansde.com English professor at Hudson University (anyone remember Hudson U?), was a model parent http://www.male-pilule.com in dealing with Amy's complicated situation, without coming across as a ridiculously "perfect person".
 
Good news for all. this past Wednesday they released a showcase presents Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld.
 
Well, I'm a guy, and I read the original Amethyst and liked it, because I've always liked fairytale princesses in stories, especially when they kick ass and save the guys. Anyway, I thought they should have left it just like it was and not ruined it with that Darker and Edgier crapola. I'd like to see an archive edition of the real original Amethyst stories.

John Shao
 
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