As part of DC Comics' Second Wave of New 52 titles, the comic book publisher set its sights on bringing back Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld as an ongoing series. Now appearing as the main feature in the "Sword Of Sorcery" anthology, Amethyst has a new look and a new outlook as a teenager just discovering her royal past and the dangers coming with it.
Written by "Jem And The Holograms" creator Christy Marx with art by "Weird Worlds'" Aaron Lopresti, "Sword Of Sorcery" also features a backup story, currently being written by "Green Lantern: New Guardians'" Tony Bedard with art by Jesus Saiz. Marx's first issues have been full of Amy (actually Princess Amaya of House Amethyst) re-entering the Gemworld (now known as Nilaa) with her Queen mother in an attempt to wrest power back from her wicked Aunt Mordiel. While Amy/Amaya has been learning her true princess heritage on the go, her mother still seems bent on keeping Amy in the dark about parts of their world, such as avoiding discussing Amaya's father and refusing to tell her what exactly happens in the Blood-Power transition.
"Graciel is faced with the daunting task of explaining a massive amount of information under constant pressure -- events keep interrupting their time together, but Amaya will become more pro-active about that," Marx said, speaking with CBR News about the comic and her plans for the main characters.
Explaining that in the case of the Blood transition, "The main reason Graciel didn't tell Amaya about the inherent danger of the power-sharing ritual was to make sure her daughter was well-rested and didn't spend the night worrying about what might happen," Marx said.
"Realistically, I don't want to bog down the book with massive info-dumps, so I have to find ways to convey the information in between the action," the writer added.
Graciel and Amaya are not the only contentious mother/daughter pair in Nilaa, however. The recently introduced Ingvie of Citron and her mother are also at loggerheads about Ingvie's future as a warrior, though Marx believes there's quite a difference between their fighting and the secrets that lie between Amaya and Graciel.
"Senshe [Ingvie's mother] loves her daughter dearly, but she's a more conservative, traditional woman who can't help but feel disappointed that when the time comes, Ingvie doesn't want to take on the same responsibility she did. For Senshe, being the keeper of the Archive is her over-riding concern," Marx said. "Ingvie loves her mother, but at this young age she only sees the side of her mother that disapproves. This is what causes the rift between them."
On the other hand, "Amaya and Graciel have a powerful bond that neither one of them questions, even if Amaya does have the occasional snit about how her mother has withheld information," Marx said. "Amy always felt like an outsider with only her mother as a firm pillar in her life, whereas everything Graciel has done has been to protect and prepare her daughter. Amaya is the total focus of her life, and in issue #5 Amaya gets to learn the truth about her father."
Talking about the writing process in general, Marx admitted she enjoys writing tension between mothers and daughters, something that also characterized parts of her 1980s "Sisterhood Of Steel" miniseries with Epic Comics.
"The heart of good drama is characters in conflict. There happens to be these two conflicting pairs up front, but there are plenty of others to come beyond mother/daughter. I like having a chance to explore such mother/daughter bonds because, frankly, you don't get to see a lot of it in comics," the writer explained.
However, family in-fighting is not solely the province of her female characters as readers have seen the brothers of House Diamond go after each other with arrows, swords and insults. Setting up Prince Hadran as one of the only members of that household not ready to murder the rest, Marx explained she made Hadran so different from his sibling and father, "Because I want to make the point that genetics is not destiny.
"House Diamond is the most physically powerful of the Houses, with House Amethyst a close second. This makes Diamond dangerous, with a tendency toward ruthlessness. The fact that Hadran has more heart and soul shows it's possible to be of House Diamond without being a cold-blooded, power-hungry killer. It isn't forced on him by his heritage," Marx said.
The #0 issue of "Sword Of Sorcery" both began Marx's story and introduced a new wrinkle into the DC Universe, as John Constantine pocketed Graciel's transportation crystal for his own use, summoning Amethyst in "Justice League Dark" and for the "JLD" annual. Written by Jeff Lemire, Marx had nothing but praise for the "Sweet Tooth" and "Animal Man" scribe.
"Oh, yes, Jeff was great," the writer enthused. "We had an excellent back and forth about how I could tease Constantine in my book and how he'd use Amaya in his book. He was kind enough to send me his scripts, so I could suggest tweaks to Amaya's dialogue and I sent him my scripts, so he could get a sense of the character as I was portraying her."
Though Amethyst has a place in the DC Universe, outside of a possible upcoming visit from Constantine in "Sword of Sorcery" #6, Marx is still keeping Amethyst and Nilaa fairly separate from the rest of the superhero action in the New 52. As Marx hinted, however, that may all change in the near future.
"There are no plans to bring the 'JLD' characters to Nilaa, but a major DCU villain is showing up in the near future. We want to keep a close linkage between Nilaa and the greater DCU," Marx said.
Giving Nilaa and Amethyst their physical form is artist Aaron Lopresti, who illustrates Marx's main "Sword Of Sorcery" story. While the last time Marx spoke with CBR she had just begun to work with Lopresti, the writer stated now their working relationship was going smoothly with multiple issues under their belt, and unlike many writer/artist pairs they've also actually met in person.
"Working with Aaron is a dream. He's a consummate professional and a great talent. On top of that, he's a wonderful gentleman to work with. We were finally able to meet in person at New York Comic Con and I had the best time talking to him and getting to know him," Marx said.
Touching on Lopresti and her re-imagining of Amethyst and her world as a more brutal, less kid-oriented comic, "I've been throwing some difficult challenges at him and I think he's outdone himself in creating a unique and amazing look for our world," Marx continued. "He's doing superb work on character faces for the deeply emotional scenes. His action scenes aren't too shabby either!"
While Marx and Lopresti are still at the beginning of Amaya's journey and faceoff with her Aunt Mordiel, the writer wanted to thank fans, both old and new, for reading the book, as well as impart this message to them: "Buckle up, we're only getting started!
"We have some twists and turns planned that will turn our characters' lives inside out and shake Nilaa to its foundations. We hope you'll be there for it," Marx concluded.
"Sword Of Sorcery" #3 goes on sale December 19.