Friday, August 24, 2012
YEAR 1983: AMETHYST, PRINCESS OF GEMWORLD
In some ways DC Comics exceeded Marvel in its depiction of femmes formidables in the Golden and Silver Ages, though Marvel's breakout books tended to outshine many of DC's solid but less showy endeavors. In the 1980s, which I for one deem to be the late Bronze Age, DC arguably showed more enthusiasm for featuring heroines in their own features, a trend that seems to continue to this era.
AMETHYST, beginning as a 12-issue "maxi-series" written by Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn and drawn by Ernie Colon, was a strong attempt to create a fantasy-heroine with enough of a regular "costume" to sustain popularity with the superhero crowd.
In keeping with prose-fantasies like the "Narnia" books of C.S. Lewis, the gateway to a fantastic world is also tied to the central character's desire to mature quickly. On her thirteenth birthday earthbound Amy Winston is kidnapped to an alternate dimension known as Gemworld, where she ages to a young woman of roughly twenty. There she finds out that by birth she is a native princess of Gemworld, that her earthly parents were only adoptive in nature, and that she possesses incredible magic powers with which she can battle the forces of evil menacing her cosmos. At the same time, whenever Amethyst returned to the earth-plane, she immediately regressed to her 13-year-old "secret identity."
Ernie Colon, known for many years as an artist on RICHIE RICH, occasionally allows a few "cartoony" characters in the visuals but on the whole strives to keep an enchanting tone to his depiction of the jewel-obsessed universe. That said, Colon is not an outstanding designer of costumes and creatures, so his execution of Gemworld is pleasing but not outstanding. Cohn and Mishkin are solid craftsmen, but rarely manage to put across anything more than your basic intrigues and skullduggeries.
That said, AMETHYST has been revived on occasion-- which is more than one can say for most of DC Comics' forays into magical fantasy-- and is due for yet another revival in September 2012.