Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Classics - Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld #1

(The holiday has pushed New Comics Day back to Thursday, so here's another Classic review to tide you over.)

This is a series that's not what it seems. Just from the title, you would expect Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld to be a comic for girls.

The title alone pegs it as a fantasy tale, and the art was by Ernie Colon, who was most famous for drawing comics like Richie Rich. So when I bought the first issue (it's cover dated May 1983), I thought it looked interesting, but figured it probably wasn't a comic for me.

But it was actually a surprisingly dark fantasy. The comic centered on a young girl named Amy Winston who is transported through a mystic door into the Gemworld, where she is a grown woman, a princess, and the last hope to stop the evil Dark Opal.

It could have been a simple, run-of-the-mill fantasy tale, but writers Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn crafted a surprisingly dark story. Amethyst faces capture and is nearly raped. Several characters are killed, and (for an '80s comic) the blood flows freely.

Colon's art is a revelation - much darker, more detailed and stylized than his usual work, he crafts an amazing, bizarre world and populates it with all kinds of strange creatures - it may be the best work of his career.

This was the first issue of a 12-issue series, and I remember enjoying it a lot. It wasn't a big hit with the fans (probably for the same reasons I listed above), but it's quite good and well worth tracking down - and I imagine those back issues could be had pretty cheaply.

This series definitely falls into the category of an unfairly overlooked classic.

Grade: A-



Anonymous said...

I remember reviewing this new comic
book (from advance proof copies) in
my column in The Comic Reader. Unlike a lot of collectors, I looked past the obvious and gave it
a chance...and it was everything you say it is.
But maybe it was too different to
catch on with the buying public.

Sam Kujava

Chuck said...

Sam, of course, the series wasn't a complete flop - there was the original 12-issue maxi-series, and it was followed by a 16-issue ongoing series and quite a few one-shot comics. Not a smash hit, but not bad at all.