REVIEW: An End For Amethyst

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With Amethyst 8 comes the end of the series, from Christy Marx and Aaron Lopresti. Bringing back Amethyst was another experimental move from DC, but one which has launched off a viable character for them to use in future… just not in her own ongoing series.

sos8 REVIEW: An End For Amethyst

I’ve been lukewarm on the run as a whole, mainly due to the somewhat bland dialogue which has been a feature since the start. Characterisation has been somewhat successful, but the book has struggled to match Lopresti’s artwork to standout personalities. Since the first issue, the book has told decent stories in a competent way, offering bits and pieces of narrative which wove nicely together to create a whole which works well. But it’s also struggled to tell the story through anything more than generic dialogue. As a writer, Marx appears to be strongest at creating a world and structure for the characters to inhabit, which has meant that Gemworld has overshadowed Amethyst herself, for the most part.

Lopresti’s work – here supported by Travis Moore and John Livesay – has been reliable. As the cast is made up of several blondes, he’s struggled a bit to differentiate the different women and give them distinctive faces, which causes a few problems. This aside, his fight scenes and entertaining and kinetic, whilst the conversational moments benefit from his sense of perspective and angle. He’s a good choice for the book, and the colouring from Hi-Fi has been bright and enjoyable. It’s the strongest part of the series, and the character designs have done a great job in supporting the society in Gemworld — the clothing is archaic but functional and fun, creating a fantasy setting which feels a bit more contemporary and flashy than something like, I dunno, Tolkein.

Issue 8 concludes the storyline with Amethyst in a new position of power, which sets her perfectly to move on and claim a role somewhere else in the DC Universe. Her origin has been concluded and concreted, and where she moves on from here is yet to be seen – but I would like to see more of her. She’s got a strong concept and fun world to play around with, and I’m sure future writers will be able to fill in the blanks in her personality as they move her forward. The story concludes with a simple narrative twist which empowers the main character rather well, although we have to struggle through a sea of generic characters in order to do so.

There’s a lot of exposition to Amethyst – I’d say at least half the main cast exist solely to tell people what the story is – without the characters having any particular quirks or tics which set them apart. By the time I reached this final issue, I’d say the only character who I felt had a rounded personality was the figure who is obviously being set up as a love interest, Preet. He’s at least got a sense of self-awareness in him which I was surprised not to find in any of the other characters. Even Amethyst, who is the outsider forced to adapt to this fantasy world, quickly acclimatises and gets lost to the reader. Everybody is serious and bland, and they offer serious and bland dialogue and thoughts on every page.

This mucks up the pacing a little bit, as the sense of urgency and tension is lost when none of the characters have anything interesting to say. They go through their motions, and as a result readers aren’t offered any idea of danger. The characters will all be safe and sound throughout, and the villain will be despatched, and everything will be happy ever after. Perhaps because you can sense that this final issue had to be rushed into place, the climax of the story isn’t as exciting as you might hope.

This may make it sound like I found Amethyst to be a chore – I didn’t. I really like the central concept, and I like the idea of the characters… even if they don’t work out very well in execution. Perhaps if somebody scripted over Marx’s plotting, the story would have been far more entertaining. As it is, these issues of Amethyst tell a perfectly fine, if underwhelming, storyline. One thing I really did appreciate was that this final issue is solely about Amethyst – I’ve disliked all the backups put in this book, without exception. Amethyst is, at the least, a step up from the thoroughly dull stories she was backed up by.

Pick up Amethyst if you like, it’s not a bad story. But what happens next is far more interesting than what’s been so far.

Comments

  1. Needs more Moe

  2. Avery Cohen says:

    The original was a wonderful piece of work. Makes me wish it was creator owned.

  3. The Hirsch Effekt says:

    This was a series that was consistently decent to good but I still don’t know who they expected to market it to. The velvet and purple She-Ra princess was going to be a hard sell to the typical DC audience but of course you could argue that it was a good idea to find an audience that isn’t currently buying DC product. But then to make it 3.99 and back it up with the apocalyptic horror of the Beowulf story…I disagree, by the way, the Bowulf stories were actually better than the Amethyst main feature…still, such a strange concept. I liked it and kept buying it, but I’m a strange fella with a quirky taste. Amethyst on her own feels more like something that should be on newsstands alongside Scooby Doo and Tiny Titans to introduce kids to comics. Who exactly was this aimed at?

  4. I wish I liked this book more than I did. I loved Loprestri’s art, but, like Steve, felt that Marx’s worldbuilding got in the way of clarity in her storytelling. A couple of focused done-in-one adventures in Gemworld would have helped me feel like I didn’t need to consult a character guide to enjoy the book. (Similarly, while Loprestri was very good at drawing family resemblence, I had to read very carefully to know which member of a particular House I was looking at.)

    Once Beowulf ended, the title started running out of steam for me; Beowulf was an added bonus to each issue, and Stalker was a minus to each issue. And that made a big difference in my enthusiasm for the book.

  5. Steve, spot-on call about the lackluster dialogue. It was never terrible but rarely sparkled, either in evoking the modern world Amy or the supposed high-fantasy Gemworld characters. The plotting was solid–making the Black Diamond a diamond/onyx hybrid was downright clever, as was the resolution of the Big Fight at the end.

    Wish it could have succeeded; utterly unsurprised that it didn’t. Sigh.

  6. I really enjoyed this series early on and thought Marx’s character building was fantastic. At a place like Dark Horse this could have turned into something wonderful and longrunning if given the right kind of push.

    As it is, I almost didn’t hear of it let alone my less comic savvy friends that would love it based on their adoration of Buffy alone.

    Buuuut, I stopped reading as soon as the cancellation was announced. Because why bother :/

  7. As a long-time Amethyst fan, I really wanted to like this series, but I just couldn’t connect with it. I think I stalled out around issue 3 or so.

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