We begin three years ago, as 13-year-old Amy Winston learns of her heritage as Princess Amethyst, ruler of House Amethyst on Gemworld. Her protector, Granch, swears to train her in fighting as she takes the place of her parents, murdered by Dark Opal. Her mentor, Citrina, will instruct her in the ways of House Amethyst, ‘the most respected, honoured realm in all of Gemworld’.
Hmm, maybe Citrina and Granch were telling Amy what she needed to hear. Or perhaps the people of House Sapphire, to whom she’s come for help to find her missing subjects, are under an enchantment… or just plain lying. Either way, Amethyst has a mystery to unravel.
Prior to appealing to the rulers of House Sapphire, Amethyst was spurned by her supposed friends in House Turquoise. She flounced out; Lord Sapphire doesn’t give her the choice, sending Amethyst, new pal Phoss, the latter’s giant caterpillar pal Stan and her own steed, Ypsilos, plunging into a pit. Now, Ypsilos is a winged horse, but even a Pegasus can be taken by surprise, so Amethyst acts, stabbing her sword into the nearest wall to slow her fall. She slows everyone else, too…
That’s the start of the second issue of Amy Reeder’s mini-series continuing the adventures begun in the Eighties by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn and Ernie Colon. The rest of the book continues in the same vein, with delightful character moments, intermittent action and intriguing revelations. There’s another new character in the Aquamarine form of Elba, Phoss’s girlfriend, who has the quality of Golden Age Etta Candy, regarding life as something you grab on to and have fun with.
As for Phoss, she teaches Amethyst a couple of lessons this time – not everyone needs protecting, and it’s not all about her. Weighed down by her responsibilities, Amethyst tends to assume every challenge is a burden for her alone; hopefully soon she’ll relax and smell the flowers along the way. Our heroine is very capable, though, able to recognise trouble and react and adapt as needed. This issue she’s extremely adept at using an ability Elba helps her unlock, one connected to gifts from adoptive parents Marion and Herb, presents she had dismissed as silly attempts to connect with her Gemworld life.
Amy Reeder is excellent at creating and blending characters – Amethyst, Phoss, Elba… they’re very different but there’s palpable chemistry between these young women, I believe in them as friends. Meanwhile, the mystery of what happened to House Amethyst begins to unfurl, with the young princess making a massive discovery at issue’s end.
And Reeder’s full-colour art is stunning, pastel and soft-edged in the opening idyllic memory, darker, in sharper relief, as the chapter transitions to today and House Sapphire. Things become brighter again when Amethyst meets the seafaring folk of House Aquamarine, and then it’s a world of purple as our girl is tossed from pillar to post while learning how her new ability works. I appreciate that Reeder is redesigning the people of Gemworld. So far we have the four-armed folk of House Emerald and the rubbery rascals of Aquamarine. And everyone is full of life, their feelings etched on their faces for all to see. It’s a confident performance from Reeder – with letters by Gabriela Downie and edits by Andy Khouri – and I can’t be the only one wondering how soon we’ll see this story as a Warner’s animation, full of character and colour, life lessons and lore, in a fairyland that’s fresher than most.
As with the original Amethyst run, though, I feel for Amethyst’s adoptive parents, that is, her ￼parents, the people who raised her with bags of love in the 13 years before she learned her origins. I hope to see Amethyst stop thinking of them as substitutes because, for all intents and purposes, they’re the real deal.
I hope kids are reading this comic, especially young girls,I suspect they’d get even more from this rollicking, great-looking yarn than me – and I’m loving every second spent on Gemworld.