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.