Amethyst #1 review

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple.

So goes the famous poem by Jenny Joseph. Well, Amy Winston isn’t old, but boy, does she wear a lot of purple. It goes with the territory – literally, because as well as being a teenage girl, she’s Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld. Just look at her bedroom, where she’s having a moment with her parents on her 16th birthday.

Amethyst leaves to attend a celebration in her magical kingdom, but if there was a parade, it’s already passed by.

Remembering the advice of her counsellor Citrine, Amethyst tries to stay positive, with the arrival of her winged horse cheering her up. An appeal to best friend Lady Turquoise, of the next door kingdom, flattens her mood.

Finally, she finds an ally. And the unnamed warrior has transport of her own.

Blimey. Is that not a relative of Mr Mind? Or the evil Venusian worm himself? The Marvel Family foe has mind powers, has he hypnotised Lady Turquoise and her consort? And if so, is Amethyst’s new friend a willing partner, also mind-controlled or simply a dupe? Who’s the girlfriend mentioned by the new gal? What’s up with the last page claim by a very familiar foe?

And how can Amy be so matter of fact when parents Marion and Herb are hurting so much? If Queen Elizabeth can celebrate two birthday, surely Amethyst could have an official birthday on Gemworld and a regular one on Earth, allowing her to spend the whole day with the people who raised her since she was a bairn? Or she could take them with her to Gemworld.

Writer-artist Amy Reeder may well address this aspect of her namesake’s tale, she seems interested in the humanity of her characters as Amethyst jumps from the Young Justice book to her own Wonder Comics mini-series. For now I’m impressed at how well, and economically, Reeder conveys the poignancy of the Winstons’ situation.

Similarly, she does a fine job of getting across the basics of Amethyst’s background in a great-looking spread; the original series by writers Dan Mishkin & Gary Cohn, and artist Ernie Colon, seems pretty much intact. As this debut issue goes on, we see differences – tiny things like ‘Citrina’ becoming ‘Citrine’, bigger matters such as the people of House Turqoise having not just forearms, but four arms; Lady Turqoise having a husband who isn’t Prince Topaz; Gemworld being as much about science as magic. Wonder Comics guru Brian Michael Bendis has already given a reason for Gemworld being not quite how we remember it in the aforementioned Young Justice – the regular Crises that hit the DC multiverse.

And really, it doesn’t matter to anyone coming to this series with no previous knowledge – this is how Gemworld is, and it’s an inviting fantasy realm. Reeder gives us a pacy first chapter with enough intrigue, spectacle, humour and general drama to bring me back for the second issue.

And it looks just wonderful. Characters are appealing, landscapes invite examination…and who can resist a flying horse? And how cute that Reeder includes one of her lovely Supergirl covers on the wall of Amy’s bedroom as a poster. Plus, if you look closely at the scene set in the kingdom of Lady Turquoise, you’ll spot some details backing up a complaint by said royal.

Reeder provides full-colour art, and while purple predominates, the overall feeling isn’t monotone. There’s some very smart colouring when the young warrior woman first pops up in a panel – the choices make her stand out, but not alarmingly so. I do, though, miss Amethyst’s blonde hair, it always popped agains the purple.

I do have a question about the art, though – the newcomer mentioned the worm’s ‘non-existent teeth’ when ‘Stan’ certainly seems to possess rather formidable gnashers. Am I confusing design with dentistry?

The letters of Gabriela Downie sit nicely on the art, with clever touches such as black edging to word balloons when things get especially intense.

This chapter is titled Amethyst in Gemworld, evoking Alice in Wonderland – well, there is a giant caterpillar, and Amy does fall down a hole, sort of. What have I missed?

I do like Amethyst’s new friend, she’s the Unimpressed type every royal protagonist needs, and her scenes with our heroine are delightfully sparky.

I love this book, from the elegantly intriguing cover by Reeder and Stephanie Hans to the creepy final page – Reeder and her creative partners, including editor Andy Khouri, have come up with a captivating read that hits the currently unoccupied sweet spot of DC sword & sorcery.

5 thoughts on “Amethyst #1 review

  1. I can not wait to read this. Brought it home with me from the local shop today and I’m just carving out some time tonight to dig into it.
    I’m *so* glad that you think the original series is still intact and part of the history, as it’s such a rich story! So much potential to explore and I can’t wait to get into it.

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  2. I really liked this — and will likely go back to savor the art a little more, now that I’ve read it once. But look again at that caterpillar! The teeth you’re looking at — the entire “face” — are actually a pattern on the bottom of its head, likely there to scare predators. The little teeth are yellow, on the recessed part of the front of the worm, and not very big at all. It’s a detail Reeder maybe should have drawn more attention to, once Amethyst had her initial scare, but the overall art is so wonderful, I;m hardly in a position to quibble.

    I agree with you on the blonde hair, though, too…but a teen dyeing her hair is so common now. I’m just glad we saw her as blonde in the flashbacks!

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    1. I wondered if the details on the top of the head were the real features, but the pretend eyes and teeth are so convincing… and it can’t be a coincidence that Stan looks so much like Mr Mind. Can it?

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  3. Loved the issue! Definitely going to go back give it a reread or two. The art is definitely something to savour.
    I liked that Reeder referenced the original mini-series, but I’m guessing that the various crises have brought Citrine and Granch back to life (I got the feeling that they were missing and not dead in this issue).
    I am kinda curious where this mini-series fits in terms of what we’ve seen in Young Justice. I got the impression that Amethyst was banished (which is what kicked off the YJ trip through the multiverse), so I’m not sure why she was expecting some kind of birthday celebration in Gemworld. But maybe this series takes place before she joins up with YJ? Or maybe there is an explanation down the road? Not that it matters. A good story trumps minor continuity squiggles for me.

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    1. I think you’re right to put your mental health before sorting out continuity!

      One thing I hope the Crises have wiped out is Herb’s affair. But I’d be delighted to see Flaw and Child once more.

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