Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Review: Amethyst #4

Amethyst #4 came out last week which means we are turning the corner and heading into the home stretch of this 6 issue miniseries. As such, I was expecting there to be something of a big reveal or turn in this chapter. I thought we would learn some big secret, even as the cliffhanger, so that issue five can deal with it, and thus lead into a final issue finale.

Instead, I think this issue sort of tread water instead of moving us forward much. Yes, we do get some interesting scenes with Dark Opal. Yes, we continue to simmer this reveal that perhaps House Amethyst isn't as magnanimous as Amy believes. But otherwise, not much plot gets revealed here. I don't know if I leave this issue knowing more than I did coming in. As such, I kind of finished the book and felt less enthusiastic as I have prior.

That is something of a shame because as usual, the art and coloring in the book is unbelievable sumptuous.

Creator Amy Reeder is able to just captivate my eyes with all the things she does visually. And up to this point, as an Amethyst fan, I was on board with the story. And maybe if this was an ongoing or a monthly, I would let this issue slip by. But I am stuck thinking about the thin 40 pages we have left to wrap things up and hoping we can get there. I know I shouldn't think about things that way ... but I can't help it.

On to the book.

We start out with Amethyst remembering how evil Dark Opal is, the worst of the worst. And we get an opening page of her battling him.

But it wasn't until later that I realized this is her remembering prior battles from her prior books. I thought this was going to be a battle happening in this book later. That we would flashback to her entering Fortress Opal and then catch up to this.

Only later did I realize this was a true flashback, back to Amethyst's stories from the 1980's.  Now I might remember how terrible Dark Opal was back then. But I'm old. This one page made me wonder how newer readers are dealing with this incongruity of what Amy believes and what is real. Those beliefs are built on the stories from 30 plus years ago.

Still, a stunning page.

Our team of Amethyst, Phoss, and Maxixe get to Fortress Opal where Dark Opal is under house arrest, guarded by House Diamond. Amy initially isn't sure if the group should enter. It leads to a funny gag of her saying 'what do you think there is a button to enter' when indeed there is exactly that.

But inside, things get wonky.

Dark Opal says he didn't imprison House Amethyst in their gems like Amy thinks. Had he done that he would have killed them. Okay, that makes sense. He also again implies that maybe House Amethyst aren't squeaky clean. Okay, we knew that.

But then we see that he isn't really helpless here. He has shattered his dark opal and can use the shards to take over the Diamond Guards to have them attack Amethyst and her friends.

Well, if he could take over the guards at any time, why stay shackled to this chair? Why stay imprisoned? Maybe it is safer to be here until he knows he can be truly free?

But then things get even more strange. From his prisoner chair he has access to technology that makes the whole floor turn into a gyroscope.

Now if this is his throne that he is chained to then having some traps makes sense. But wouldn't House Diamond have checked for those things? And why is he even there and not in his bedroom or something. Maybe if we had one line of dialogue explaining this was an old device unfound on his throne I would have been okay. But I had to make that up on my own.

And that is a shame because the art here when the floor and room go chaotic is fantastic. Reeder gives us truly dynamic art where you can feel Amethyst contorting as she leaps, her clothes hugging her and her limbs askew. The change in color and the sudden add of blurriness helps us feel that strike to her head.

Seriously, the art here is just brilliant.

It looks like Amethyst and her team are going to be defeated/killed from this trapped room when Amethyst sees the quartz she got from the Gemworld nomads last month. It is an amplifying gem which makes her Amethyst magic powerful enough to take apart the rotating rings.

Again, shared because the art is wonderful. That first panel showing Amy's effort. The subsequent panels and sound effects showing the result.

But again things get strange. Opal is now pinned under wreckage but still chained to his chair. He vows to be free and kill Amy. But can't he still use his Opal shards to try and attack Amy and her friends? Are the Diamond guards killed or can they be controlled to free him. And certainly, if he was planning to off this team, shouldn't he have freed himself first? Or why play his hand now of all times?

I don't know if I quite understand the why's of Opal here and that made it a bit wonky.

The youths retreat although I am unsure why about that. Wouldn't now be the time with Opal truly trapped to interrogate him with the promise of saving him as a bargaining chip.

Instead they run off hoping to get to House Diamond and ask them for the truth.

En route, "Prince Maxixe" reveals he isn't the prince but instead a decoy.  He wants out of this suicide mission.

Now that is a great reveal and certainly will have some payoff soon.

But Phoss isn't going anywhere. They tell Amy that it is her hope for a better Gemworld that keeps them on the quest with her.

Unfortunately, that quest has led them into the desert where a sandstorm overwhelms them.

Okay, first off, I am not unhappy with this book in total. And I am definitely completely swooning over the art. This issue just seemed like a bit of a misstep and part of that is my concern about how quickly this is going to end.

We need Amy to get to House Diamond, learn about her family, probably free them, deal with the ramifications of her beliefs being wrong, and probably have an actual showdown with whoever the real villains are here. That is a lot of exposition and action to bring this to the finish line! Let's hope we get there.

Overall grade: C+


Anonymous said...

"Are the Diamond guards killed or can they be controlled to free him."

Looks to me like they were pretty thoroughly decapitated, their blood splattering around, in a surprisingly gruesome moment. And Dark Opal's head is smashed so hard by Amy that I'm not sure why he wasn't also killed (he only gets a bloody gash on his forehead).

I found it confusing that the blasts from the guards' weapons are the same blue color as the blasts coming from the array of 8 projectors arrayed around the throne room. Made it hard to tell just what was blasting what.

Overall, a disappointing outing.


Steve said...

I'm enjoying Reeder's craft but yes, she chose a stinker of a story. Everything You Knew Was A Lie works sometimes but it hardly works when longtime readers have seen it on this property at least three times and new readers have no investment in the facts that are turning out to be lies.

Martin Gray said...

I like the art.yet had trouble following this gyroscope business, I think it would make an amazing animation but it’s tough on the page. And yes, the storytelling problems you mention are all there. And why did they send their rides away rather than use them?

My biggest problem, though, is that Amy is such a brat lately, she’s a princess, but when was she ever so imperious?