In the course of talking to comic creators this year, I started to think about their unique talents and what I think they would be best suited to. Inspired by all kinds of wonderful ideas I’ve seen online and heard from creators, I’ve put together my New 52. These are the 52 books I would publish if DC’s offerings were up to me and, as my friends and I have had a good time discussing them, I thought I would share them with you.

I tried to consider the actual feasibility of these titles, not only in the sense of immediate sales but in their ability to expand DC’s brand long-term. I also recognize that this is a dramatically simplified version of what DC actually has to do. As such, I made a couple of rules for myself.

First, as I don’t have the same knowledge of the creators’ availability and timeliness as an actual editor, I decided that I would allow myself access to any writer currently working in comics, but that I could only assign a creator to one book. Second, I tried not to put a writer on the same book that they’ve already worked on, though some were moved to similar concepts or allowed to expand short work they’ve already done. Finally, while an actual relaunch might do well to include some new books, I limited myself to preexisting titles and IPs for this project.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, on why I’m right, why I clearly screwed up, who should be illustrating the series, etc. But, regardless, I hope you enjoy.

In a world where Game of Thrones and My Little Pony are both incredibly profitable franchises, it seems absurd that Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld isn’t a huge hit for DC. Nonetheless, despite an attempted revival in the pages of Sword of Sorcery, Amethyst fizzled in the New 52.

But if this environment won’t support a reboot of an 80s fantasy story about a girl with a magical, color-coded alter-ego written by Christy Marx, what could tip the scales in its favor? Well, experienced as she is in such matters, I think even Marx lacks the name recognition to bear this one out. As an unfamiliar series to many readers, Sword of Sorcery needed something big to overcome it’s four-dollar price tag and, sadly, attempts to tie it into continuity only hurt its chances. So classic 80s tv writers won’t do it, an awesome backup won’t do it, and relevance to other titles won’t do it? This is going to take drastic measures.

I do have a thought…

AMETHYST, PRINCESS OF GEMWORLD BY TAMORA PIERCE

Yeah. I know. That’s an option.

While I’m skeptical of throwing novelists and screenwriters at comics and expecting their talents to transfer, a little digging revealed that not only is Tamora Pierce a longtime comic fan, she’s also a comic writer. Admittedly her experience is limited, having produced only six issues, but having gone through the process of crafting a miniseries means that Pierce has had time to actively wrestle with the demands of the medium and time to sit with those lessons since her 2006 comic book debut.

As for the title, I don’t know that there’s a more natural match in all of comicdom for Pierce.

Gemworld is a location that’s begging to be explored in greater detail.

Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld was initially pitched as a series called “Changeling” by Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn. A love letter to adolescence, girlhood, and Otto Rank’s Myth of the Birth of the Hero (seriously, if you’ve read it you’ll know what I mean), the original Amethyst followed the story of Amy Winston, a young girl who discovers on her thirteenth birthday that she’s the heir to House Amethyst, one of the ruling families of a magical land called Gemworld. After the death of her parents, the witch-mother, Citrina, spirited her to earth, leaving her in the care of the confused Winston family until Amethyst was ready to claim her birthright and overthrow the power mad Dark Opal. Because time passes differently in Gemworld, thirteen year old Amy becomes a twenty year old princess upon entering it’s magical atmosphere and gaining access to its powers.

When the New 52 sought to replace its first wave failures, DC turned the concept over to Christy Marx, who significantly revamped the concept. Raised by her migratory mother, Amy Winston has long held to a deal, that if she abides her mother’s strange interest in teaching her swordplay, she’ll be told the truth about her absent father on her seventeenth birthday. When the time comes, Grace Winston returns with her daughter to the gem world of Nilaa, revealing that she is actually Lady Graciel of House Amethyst. Graciel fled to protect her daughter, Amaya, from the machinations of her sister, Mordiel. Mordiel seeks to possess the full blood power of House Amethyst, but it belongs to all anointed heirs of the bloodline, and therefore Graciel holds half of it. With Amaya’s return, the blood power will be split three ways and the balance of power shifted. The series focused on the complex relationship between the women of House Amethyst but editorial demands and low sales doomed the book before it could come into its full glory.

It’s also worth mentioning that one of the most popular versions of Amethyst is the one featured in the DC Nation short of the same name. These short cartoon morsels set Amy as a young video game programmer sucked into one of her games and forced to play the role of Princess Amethyst. While the short runtime leaves a lot of questions hanging, they’re charming as anything and the mahō shōjo style is lots of fun. I’m not the only one who’d happily see a full length show based on this concept.

In the name of the Moonstone, she will punish you!

Honestly, I kind of like all three interpretations, but none of them have been deemed worthy of continuation, so I seriously doubt that the market would bear more than one Amethyst comic.

House Diamond were portrayed as subtle monks in Mishkin and Cohn’s series and backstabbing warmongers in Marx’s…

Personally, I think that one of the greatest weapons in Amethyst’s arsenal is the House system of Gemworld. Particularly with Game of Thrones making inter-house politics a familiar concept (though hopefully not to the young girls the original Amethyst was targeting), the inherent desire to learn about each of the twelve ruling houses and their vassals is a great way to keep readers hooked.

Though Amethyst’s powers have always been somewhat hard to pin down, particularly in the original maxi-series, I think it would be interesting to give each house a specialty and build a culture around it.

Both versions of Gemworld were eventually revealed to be populated by refugees from Earth. The original series depicted Gemworld as a haven for faeries, Homo magi, and other magic users fleeing the collapsing magical ecosystem of Earth. As such the different houses were loosely based on historical cultures. While I’m a little hesitant to employ such an idea, the question of how various cultures would interact under these strange circumstances is fascinating. What effect would the prominence of magic have on Chinese culture? How might Kemite society have evolved sharing a snowy terrain with the Sioux? The thought of handing such questions to Pierce is tempting and I would love to move the series away from the Albion glare of the ‘medieval’ aesthetic.

House Turquoise was ruled by the fiery Lady Turquoise in the original series, but became more mercantile in the reboot and grew in prominence when Marx revealed that its heir was Amaya’s father…

I also think that the balance of power between houses is a more interesting subject for Pierce than the ‘us against them’ simplicity of the original series. I’d actually be interested to see the dark lord of Opal and Lady Mordiel appear as antagonists in a rebooted series, alongside other threats, but I think Pierce would be much better suited to examining the effect that the rulers have on their own nations as well as on the stability of Gemworld as a whole. Perhaps the lord of Opal is a tyrannical expansionist but does so firmly in the name of his people, keeping more self-serving elements within the royal family at bay.

Particularly with the closed nature of Gemworld, it might be interesting to look at Japanese feudalism as a base rather than the more traditional European model. Pierce has looked to less familiar cultures for inspiration in her later Tortall novels and that experience, combined with her attention to the essential mundanities of life in a fantasy world, could be particularly valuable in a visual medium like comics.

Francis Manapul’s take on Amethyst here is beautiful but I can’t tell you how wrong this variant cover is. Luckily, Christy Marx’s handling of guilt and mortality was fairly strong.

Regardless, any amount of world-building will fail without relatable characters. Though the metaphor of Amy’s aging body is interesting, I can’t help but feel that we’re better off avoiding it. I also think that having Amy move back and forth between Earth and Nilaa would drain valuable time away from her adventures and our getting to know the world. As such, I would suggest casting Amy as a fourteen year old girl brought to Gemworld to begin training for her ascension to the throne. I wouldn’t want to retread themes from the previous attempts too much, but if Tamora Pierce wanted to use the series to investigate the complexities of mother/daughter relationships, I think I’d be a fool to stop her. Having Amy’s mother come with her would also make it easier to believe that she’d stay in Gemworld for any length of time without seriously missing earth.

Pierce really does seem the perfect choice for this series. A beloved fantasy icon with a passion for exploring fictional cultures and unpacking ideas of womanhood and adolescence, Pierce’s grounded approach to fantasy would be really interesting to see in comics. It would also be nice to have someone so firmly rooted in the genre, as it helps me feel confident that the series would take itself seriously without descending into the bland humorlessness that so often mars a fine idea whose only crime was thinking they should pretend to be Game of Thrones. I think male and female readers are interested in seeing something with a little less bubblegum flavor than the original series, but a grim and gritty reboot of this:

doesn’t make sense to me.

Obviously Pierce would be a huge marketing draw, but my hope is that her passion for the subject matter would help make Amethyst a series that would stand tall without knowing the author’s name. Fantasy is an underrepresented genre in mainstream comics and a fantastic opportunity to tell strong serialized stories. Amethyst is a really cool concept that appeals to a different kind of reader and might even help break down some of the nonsense barriers we erect around gender. Besides, if Pierce had a good experience and became adept with the form, you know the industry would benefit from adding her to the pool of talent available to it.

Tomorrow… The Man of Steel.

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