Monday, September 24, 2012

Zeroing in: Amethyst

Through the mysteries of the internet, I'm a de facto "authority" on Amethyst.  Which is extremely odd, since I've only written abouther once, I think. But her Wikipedia article links to me, and, so, of all the things I have written, my Amethyst post gets me more hits than almost anything. Even more than referrals from the Chicago Spanking Review, which is very fond of my work on Wonder Woman.

Therefore, I feel I should comment on the new conception of Amethyst advanced in her "Zero" issue as part of my series on DC's "Zero Month".

Yesterday, I talked about the Shazam Zero issue, which tackles the difficult job of updating an essentially childish character for a modern audience.  DC faces a similar challenge in updating Amethyst, which was an attempt to capture the readership of young girls.

Classic Amy Winston was a 13 year old girl; Modern Amy Winston is 17.  This is an understandable change; after all, DC is probably not fooling itself this time into thinking its audiences is pre-pubescent girls.

The change is an understandable one; but not necessarily a wise one.  A great deal is lost by making Amy the same age as her Amethyst identity.  Young girls (and boys) often wish that they were older and dream about what that would be like (it's the desire upon which the Archie Empire is based).  Part of the original concept of the Amethyst story is: be careful what you wish.  Because she is older in Gemworld, adulthood is thrust on Amy all at once, and it's not quite the princess-perfect package she'd hoped for.  As I mentioned in my previous Amethyst post, one of the first things that happens to Amy in Gemworld is that some ogres plan to gang-rape her.  Not exactly a Rainbow Brite problem, is it?   

Original Amy Winston was a 13 year old with a normal but unexciting suburban life, who, because of an unsuspected heritage, is suddenly thrust into a world of danger for which she is not prepared (an excellent metaphor for adolescence).  Modern Amy Winston is a tough, edgy loner, who knows that she has some mysterious heritage she will soon discover, and whose mother has been training her (seemingly pointlessly) in combat for years while they migrate from town to town.  In short, Amy is just about as prepared to become Amethyst as she possibly could be, without actually knowing the truth.  In the Zero issue, she's not threatened with rape in Gemworld; she rescues someone else from it in our world.  In fact, the most distressing thing for her in Gemworld seems to be that she can no longer control the color of her hair. PLUS, her mother is there to guide her.  

Don't misunderstand me.  Arriving in Gemworld would be a startlingly event under any circumstances.  But in the original story, Amy is armed only with a good solid upbringing by smart caring parents.  The Modern Amy Winston is now just another sword-wielding bad-ass ninja chick in dark clothing and funky hair of the type fanboys like so much.

In Justice League Zero, Billy Batson is being updated to give him more meaning in a modern context.  DC is trying the same thing with Amethyst in Sword & Sorcery Zero, but I think it has backfired, robbing the character of meaning rather than adding it.

What do you think?


Grebok said...

Thank you so much. This is precisely my problem with this clumsy attempt at a reboot. It takes away the core and timeless concept and erodes it to generic who-careisms.

Gone is the sturdy upbringing of Herb and Marion Winston. Gone is solving magic faerie kingdom problems with High School math and science and her mother's psychology. Gone is Taffy, dog of two worlds. No other reboot has this much hand waving at what made the character good and interesting.

Nathan Hall said...

My wife is also ticked about the age-change. The adolescent/adult jump made her a very interesting character, quite a jump from the John Carter types who are fundamentally unchanged when they reach a new world. But at least this version is better than the Flashpoint version, who lasted one issue before being murdered.

Also, Amethyst's original run (or the first issues of it, anyway) are being reprinted in a TPD due for release in a couple of weeks. Look it up on Amazon.

me said...

My husband, Nathan Hall, already commented on this, but I just wanted to say that you nailed my argument against the Amythest age change perfectly! That tension of being thrust into adulthood before she was ready is what I identified with as a kid who had a dusfunctional family! This was the most interesting point about Amythest, her coping with responsibilities she didn't ask for and her solid upbringing leading her to not back down from the challenge despite it being grossly unfair. I still have the entire series with the exception of two. (still on the look out). While I'm thrilled Amythyst is getting a resurrection, the changes projected aren't making this old fan happy.

Imitorar said...

My God, you weren't lying about the Chicago Spanking Review...

Scipio said...

LMFAO; no, no, I wasn't.

Anonymous said...

I liked it as much as I recall loving the original. I definitely like Lopresti's art ten times more than the first maxi. Colon, wasn't it? I never understood his getting work. It's just a different kind of fantasy cliche being used this time and Marx has written the hell out of that zero issue. Beowulf is wasted space but if it forces Marx to avoid decompression that'll be good enough for me!

Nathan Hall said...

Hey, I just noticed something:

And grant ourselves a
few moments of - amusement
As well, eh, brother?

Ogres spout haiku before attempting rape? Fascinating.