One of the reasons I became so enthralled with Gemworld – besides the attraction of the main character being named Amy – is because of the magic. As in, actual magic. Writers Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn and artist Ernie Colón did a wonderful job of fleshing out the world and how it works. From the majestic creatures to glittering gem spires to the creation of the world and its people – are you sold yet? I love getting lost in the pages of Amethyst. Last time I gushed about the positive aspects of the DC Comics maxi-series, but it’s fun to look at how the magic works in Gemworld.
The great houses of Gemworld possess a gemstone with incredible power and only those with royal blood in their veins are capable of wielding the magic held within their birthstones. Amethyst was born of House Amethyst (hold in your surprise) but when her parents were threatened by a war waged by Dark Opal, they left their infant daughter in the hands of a friend – Citrina – who sent her through a rift to the planet Earth.
She uses her power almost as soon as she receives a mysterious amethyst pendant. While she’s fighting off a monster’s advances (not my favorite scene), the sparks fly. She soon has to learn under pressure as the houses of Opal and Sardonyx attack her castle. She watches Citrina cast a defense spell, and Citrina describes it as beginning with a small construct that she channels mystic energy into. At this point we learn that the strength of the gemstones vary because Citrina states her stone and power is less than Lord Sardonyx’s.
Luckily for everyone under attack, Amethyst’s stone is the strongest. She’s under pressure again, and the stone comes to life and knocks back the evil forces. It’s not long before she begins to control the power though. When her childhood dog is threatened by Carnelian, she shapes the magic into a shield:
Yep, she’s awesome. Once she moves more permanently to Gemworld, she goes through a nice training montage and learns all the tricks and comes into her own. She’s ready to wear the mantle of leadership in no time.
One measure of a good protagonist is the strength of the villain, and he’s equally intriguing. First of all, Dark Opal has a mesmerizing countenance. He’s borderline over the top, but he owns it and is so formidable a foe that it doesn’t much matter. Opal is such a beautiful gemstone that it’s hard to imagine it being wielded in the name of evil, and I like that flip. Dark Opal has been ruling Gemworld while Amethyst was absent; no on was strong enough to challenge him. Now that a threat presents itself, he has to scheme and plot.
All gemstone-based powers are limited though. As evidenced by remarks from Dark Opal and Amethyst, the stones need to recharge after being depleted by use.
They’re far from the only players in Gemworld; each side has its allies and all of them have spectacular outfits. Amethyst has Citrina, Lord Garnet (he’s the best one because he gives her a pegacorn), Lord and Lady Moonstone, Lady Turquoise, Lord Topaz, and more. Dark Opal has Lady Emerald, Lord Sardonyx, and Lady Topaz among others. When the world is at stake and so many heavy hitters are involved, you can bet there are a ton of politics and machinations. Think Game of Thrones style power plays.
The battles of power and of magic are just one layer of a complex story. I’m not sure I’d call this series all ages, but it’s darn close.
And one last thing. Can I just point out that Amethyst could teach Man of Steel Superman a thing or two? After inhabitants of Gemworld end up on her school on Earth, she wisely points out,”We’ve got to move the battle somewhere safer.”