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Princess Amethyst/Amy stands on a background of swirling visions, clad all in purple, gripping an amethyst sword, on the cover of Amethyst #1, DC Comics (2020). Image: Amy Reeder/DC Comics

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DC Comics’ gorgeous, new book Amethyst sparkles with a fair amount of substance

The ’80s magical girl staple returns for 2020

The 1980s heroine and magical girl extraordinaire Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld, makes a sparkly return to the modern day in DC’s new comic Amethyst. Clad in a voluminous purple ball gown, riding a flying horse, the purple-haired warrior is back with a vivid, new mission for the new decade.

Who’s working on Amethyst?

Amy Reeder serves as both writer and artist on the new series, with letterer Gabriela Downie rounding out the creative team. Reeder has been writing and drawing girl-forward comics since her 2006 Tokyopop series Fool’s Gold. Her biggest splash is probably co-creating Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur at Marvel Comics, featuring the adventures of Lunella Lafayette, the smartest character in the Marvel Universe, and Devil Dinosaur, a time-displaced Tyrannosaurus rex.

What’s Amethyst #1 about?

Amethyst, torn between her life as a princess in Gemworld and a normal human existence, returns to her kingdom in another dimension, only to find it ransacked, and her loved ones gone. Searching for clues as to what happened, Amethyst travels to the neighboring kingdom of Turquoise, but the rulers don’t take kindly to her mission. They’re definitely hiding something. Amethyst suspects the involvement of the evil Dark Opal and sets off on a quest to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Amethyst rides a flying horse in Amethyst #1, DC Comics (2020) Image: Amy Reeder/DC Comics

Why is Amethyst starting over now?

With She-Ra and the Princesses of Power making waves for Netflix, Amethyst might seem quite modern, but the character has been around since 1983, when writers Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn, and Ernie Colón turned their hand to creating the secretly dimension-hopping warrior princess for DC Comics. Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld ran for a 12-issue miniseries and 16 issues of an ongoing series, was briefly revived in 2012 under the pen of Jem and the Holograms creator Christy Marx, and even got a series of cartoon shorts complete with a magical girl transformation.

But this particular incarnation of the series is spinning out of DC’s Wonder Comics imprint, a collection of titles overseen by Brian Michael Bendis, designed to showcase the company’s teen superheroes.

Is there any required reading?

Nope! Reeder is starting fresh with the new series. But if you’re hungry for more modern day Amethyst, check out Young Justice Vol. 1: Gemworld, which adds her to the roster of the reformed Young Justice superteam. In that book, the group is stranded in Gemworld and has to fight its way out of the clutches of Dark Opal. It’s a fast-moving story and a lot of fun.

Is Amethyst #1 good?

The first issue does away with the origin story. In just one panel, we get the whole shebang of who Amy Winston/Amethyst is, how she found out about her transdimensional origins, and how she reclaimed her throne. Without the burden of that discovery, the issue can deliver lots of wacky Gemworld hijinks.

Gemworld itself is fantastical, full of floating amethyst clusters, four-armed citizens of House Turquoise, and giant caterpillar monster pets. This is a dimension slightly like ours, but with a tinge of the otherworldly and surreal. Only two locations in Gemworld are shown — the Amethyst kingdom and House Turquoise — but we see the difference between the more lavish Amethyst kingdom and the more militant House Turquoise in the design of the architecture. Reeder’s wide landscape views of Gemworld are breathtaking, and as Amethyst rides through the air atop her winged horse, it’s pretty obvious why she chooses this realm over Earth.

The opening pages do a good job of presenting Amethyst’s torn loyalties: she loves her Earth parents, but they just don’t understand what Gemworld really is. On her birthday, they get her a guide to crystal healing — they don’t really get the whole actually magic gems thing — and she awkwardly smiles it off. It’s funny, but also sets up some serious dramatic stakes.

If there’s anything missing, it’s a focus on Amethyst’s emotional ties to the citizens of Gemworld. When she returns to her kingdom, she’s dismayed over the loss of her trusted companions, but besides a few lines of narration, we never really get the full scope of her relationship with Citrine and Granch. Amethyst is on a quest, though, determined to solve the mystery and this first issue has her dive right in. There’ll be time for emotional pondering later; the princess has a kingdom to save.

One panel that popped

Amethyst #1, DC Comics (2020) reveals Amethyst’s backstory Image: Amy Reeder/DC Comics

Talk about a succinct exposition.