Thursday, June 18, 2020

Review: Amethyst #3

Amethyst #3 came out last week, some time since the last issue was released. I have been waiting!

Amy Reeder continues to push this story forward nicely. This is a six issue mini-series and so we are holding the turning point. We are halfway done here. And one of the things that this issue does nicely is continue to provide small crumbs of the current Gemworld mystery of House Amethyst's disappearance while showing us some glimpses to more classic Amethyst lore.

In fact, things seem to happen almost too fast. We are really pushing things quickly, introducing new elements of the culture and running through the lands as she rushes to a confrontation with Dark Opal. I almost wish we had a couple of extra pages to let some of these scenes breathe and give us information more naturally rather than an info dump.

That said, I am most interested with the characterization of Amethyst. She is angry here and because of that she is the one driving the pace. She is upset about what is happening to her House, she has just learned her parents might be alive, and she needs to know why! As a result, even when friends are being friends or people are warning her to be cautious, she snaps and moves forward. I am not used to seeing a snippy Amethyst but given her age and the circumstances, it makes sense. There is room for her to grow here emotionally and my hope is we get there.

The art here is, no surprise, sumptuous. Reeder creates a magical land with beasts and mystical landscapes and gems gems gems. But the thing that struck me the most was her expressive work. I want to live in a world where people emote the way they do in an Amy Reeder comic. Beautiful.

On to the book!

We start out with a sort of recap page.

Amethyst is talking to someone about all that has happened, reviewing not only current events but giving us a shot of the map of Gemworld.

But the big thing I liked about this issue was the dual voices of Amethyst.

Her voice bubbles show someone who, for the most part, is speaking the party line as a Princess of the Gemworld.

But inside is an angry Amy, upset at what is happening and ready to jump into action. Hearing her say 'I mean business' on this opening page is just a set up for the rest of the issue.

It turns out she is in House Aquamarine.

And for once, Amy finds a sympathetic house. Aquamarine wants to help. In fact, Lady Aquamarine is willing to send Prince Maxixe along with Amy and Foss to fight the good fight.

But there is a lot to unpack here.

Maxixe doesn't want to go because this house is under attack. Amy doesn't want him to go. He seems to much of a hot head.

But the biggest thing is that we learn that Citrine told Amy not to trust Aquamarine. And yet this is the one house that has helped her. We are going to learn something unsavory about House Amethyst when all is said and done here. Too many lies or weird facts are coming out now.

Lastly, I just want to live in a world where people emote Amy Reeder style. I love Amethyst's expression here.

And so the three young heroes - Amy, Phoss, and Maxixe begin their trek to Dark Opal's fortress to figure out what is actually going on.

And as I said before, you can see that Amy is determined to get there.

She says she has bigger fish to fry, she wonders if she will get to the Fortress in time to save her parents, she calls the other houses cowards, and finally that she was born ready.

No timid Amy here. She wants a fight.

But this is Wonder Comics and Amy Reeder. We aren't in the New 52 Amethyst. So despite Amy's conviction, we are reminded these are three kids going on an adventure. So why not try each others's steeds for a bit.

Amy's unicorn, Phoss' caterpillar, and Maxixe's Narwhal are all ridden by someone else.

Poor Maxixe. He wasn't ready to ride the pupa!

Still, this little moment of lightness was perfect in a book that was getting a bit dusky in tone.

En route, the trio runs into the Banned, a traveling group of Gemworld citizens who don;t belong to any of the 12 houses.

We get a bit of an expositional dump by Reeder here about a new wrinkle to the Gemworld landscape. All gems, all stones, have some power. But thing were too chaoitc. And so the 12 Houses were set up and the other gems stripped of land and true political power.

This is an nice addition to the mythology here. And fascinating to hear what quartz, amazonite, and other stones can do.

Still, these Banned are like nomads, people without a land or any say in things. Suddenly Gemworld isn't so idyllic.

And then Prince Topaz comes to disperse this group.

The Banned are ... well ... banned.

Thankfully Amy is there. She is able to calm Topaz and grants the Banned squatters' rights in Amethyst's land. After all, no one else is using it. I love that she did that. So beneficent.

But we aren't done.

It turns out that Amy is wanted. Topaz is nice enough to look away and let Amy stay on her quest.

Things aren't rosy here at all.

I can't wait to peel back all the secrets and learn the truth.

All the more reason for Amy to keep moving.

She is convinced that Dark Opal is behind all this.

We get a nice two pages of flashback to the original Amethyst series. So nice acknowledgment by Reeder.

Love her depiction of Opal. He is maniacal!

Despite the usual drama of three teens trying to make their way stealthily through a land,  the trio finally get to the fortress.

I am eager to see what is actually there.

While it is clear Reeder is building some new layers of deception into this tale, I hope Opal stays pure evil. I don't need more villains with sympathetic backgrounds.

So far I am loving this. I feel like we are where we should be in the story at the midway issue. I wonder if this would have been better served as a 9 issue series to give things like the Banned and the journey to the Opal fortress a little more room to breathe. Maybe we could have learned more about Phoss and Maxixe.

But this feels like Amethyst. And that makes this old fan happy.

Overall grade: B

1 comment:

William Ashley Vaughan said...

Amy Reeder has been one of my favorite artists since her brilliant run on Madame Xanadu. Mike Kaluta came back to draw the character for a few issues and her work easily stood comparison with his before and after. Her work on Amythyst is fun, clever, and inventive. Her art is as wonderful as ever and she has proven to be a capable writer.