Last issue was a bit of a disappointment, but this one seem to be getting things back on track. Amethyst is back in Gemworld, and it appears she may have gained the ability to create portals between worlds at will when the energies of the portal crystal flow into her body. But the energy is turquoise, prompting the bolder Amethyst to drill her mother about her father. As much as the previous issue slowed things down, Amethyst's Earth adventure with the Justice League Dark was ultimately a positive move for her character, where she was able to do things without the control of her mother or the Gemworld society, and thus she's gained more self confidence, more outspoken and bold.
So this issue we find out more about Amaya's dead father, and honestly he's a pretty typical kind of fantasy hero, especially one who is the parent of a current main character. He made a noble sacrifice of his life so that his wife and child could escape the prying eyes of the evil that sought them out by hiding in another world. But there's something about this backstory that significantly confuses me. Graciel furiously accuses her stepfather, Firojha, of betraying them and killing his own son to get his power back. And in a way it's true that he betrayed them, giving up their secret location to Mordiel, but in no way did he kill Vyrian. Vyrian was going to make the portal one way or another, and he was dead before the attackers even arrived. The threat of Mordiel existed regardless of any actions Firojha took, and the portal Vyrian gave his life for was not an act of desperation in the wake of a direct attack; the attack came AFTER HE DIED FOR THE PORTAL. So yes, Firohja betrayed them, but in no way whatsoever did he kill his son. I mean, he probably would have, but he DIDN'T, and Graciel is furious that, in her mind, he did. But her logic is severely flawed.
And then there's a pretty cool fight scene where the assassins of House Onyx make their move. Amaya is forced to make the hard decisions that accompany such a world and show no mercy. She expresses some remorse, but not excessive angst, and it helps set her apart, especially since she seems like the kind of character who would be very innocent and merciful.
After that, though, the pacing get's really off as the aftermath of the attack is just sped through. The last assassin had barely hit the ground when the loyal leader of House Onyx shows up to apologize, and tell them she killed the betrayer Firojha OFFSCREEN. After building up his character so much, with genuine repentant remorse and likely a hard decision by Amaya to perhaps defend him from the blind wrath of her mother, he just gets killed in the corner like a nameless thug. Amaya's kindness, Firojha's agonizing remorse, and Graciel's loathing all together could've made for a powerful scene with complex moral exploration, but it's all just fizzled away.
Stalker just doesn't carry nearly the same weight as Beowulf did, and it's now dragging this series down, no longer really worth the extra dollar. The artwork seems to fit, but overall its very messy and ugly. Andrei Bressan's linework seems like its pretty good, but the inking really muddies things up. The general shape and design of all the characters and scenery look fine, it's the details and shadows and things that make it awkward. On top of that, the only really good thing about the story is the vaguely similar portrayal of Lucifer to his appearance in Demon Knights. I could believe they're the same character. But overall the story is just boring. Stalker made a deal with Lucifer and now he has his one final task for his soul to be free. But we don't really know Stalker very well, and yet we're already seeing him face a moral dilemma. We've been given a sense that he's grown amoral and self serving all these years of empty immortality, but we haven't gotten a chance to 'feel' it. So when he's given a hard choice, it doesn't feel as intense as it should. I don't feel like he's struggling that much, I've seen him lean more towards good at the beginning of his origin, so when he reaches a scene that mirrors his origin, I can't picture him not choosing the path of moral righteousness again. I cant picture him being selfish like we're supposed to see him as.
In Conclusion: 3.5/5
This issue started out pretty good, but the ending was rushed, skipping over an amazing potential story and really muddling up the flashback. It's a pretty big hole in logic to say that Firojha killed his son, and so much emotion relies on him having done so. He didn't even CAUSE his son's death, his actions had no impact whatsoever on Vyrian dying. Its really a shame to see this series cancelled though, as I said before, Amethyst just OOZES potential from every pore, with massive storylines and tons of subplots all set up, and it's a shame to see them all go to waste. And with Beowulf replaced by the, at best mediocre, Stalker, the price just isn't as fitting. It's a shame to see yet another quality 'Genre' series go by the wayside. All-Star Western is the only one that's survived, the rest lasting no more than 8 issues. Men of War and G.I. Combat, though the latter was not that great itself. I'm hoping at least Threshold will break the unfortunate mold. The big point of contention is the price. Yes, most people aren't willing to pay the extra dollar for an uncertain title, but I do understand having the co-feature, because they're all series' grounded to a genre and not a character, so it lets you explore multiple small characters under the bigger genre. But people are stupid. They'll pay an extra dollar for a Marvel series that isn't any more pages than a regular priced comic, but not for a comic that gives you an extra 10 pages for that extra dollar? Screw you, Marvel.