Who's Amethyst?

Who's This? The Princess of Gemworld!
The facts: Amy Winston was actually born in a mystical dimension called Gemword, heir to its throne, but in danger of being assassinated when the House of Opal engineered a coup, so she was sent to Earth where she was adopted and raised by the Winstons. Time flows differently between our worlds, so when she returns as a teenager, she's a 20-year-old warrior wizard princess. Kind of like if Harry Potter were She-Ra, y'know? Created by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn and Ernie Colon, she first appeared in a preview insert in Legion of Super-Heroes #298 (April 1983) before spinning out into a 12-issue maxi-series, and then the story was continued in a monthly that lasted another 16 issues + Annual (I guess they didn't trust the book to succeed as an ongoing right off the bat despite Arion, Warlord and Arak getting such passes - the girl market, you see). Then a Special, then another 4-issue mini to end the story. It would not be the last we see of her, but beyond the '80s, there wasn't much interest, despite having forced a connection between Gemworld and the Legion foe Mordru.
How you could have heard of her: While the New52 was throwing everything at the wall to see what stuck, she returned as the main feature in a Sword of Sorcery book, and joined Justice League Dark. More recently, a new Young Justice title was launched under the Wonder Comics imprint, with Amethyst as a member. She has also made appearances in animation, most prominently in a series of shorts under the DC Nation banner.
Example story: Amethyst Princess of Gemworld vol.1 #1 (May 1983) "The Birthright" by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn and Ernie Colon
Amy is 13 today and she can't wait to get home from Chucky Cheese to see what she got for her birthday. It's an amethyst necklace and we're off into her origin story...
I do like that the gremlin-looking thing is a goody, no matter what Taffy thinks, sent to restore her to her rightful throne. Amy's Earth parents seem to know of their adopted daughter's legacy, but later pages suggest only mom knows. Anyway, that night, an ogre sent by an opposing faction shows up in her room and takes her through a doorway to Gemworld, which transforms her into the princess she would have become, and of age. And that, folks, is where things get a little icky.

Ok look, the kid who is turned into an adult has been a comc book trope since Billy Batson first shouted Shazam (I even wrote about it HERE), and so long as you keep sexuality out of it, it's a very acceptable power fantasy. But a comic becomes thoroughly uncool when, for example, our 13-year-old heroine, no matter what body she inhabits, is threatened with rape.
And that is not at all to say I think that scene is acceptable even if Amethyst was 21 in both mind and body. Not at all. Nope, nope, nope! I also have questions about WHO they were trying to sell this to. I always got the impression that Amethyst was an attempt at getting young girls to buy DC Comics. Alice in Wonderland meets Disney Princess type stuff. But tonally, it has a lot more in common with Conan and other male-centric sword and sorcery series. Like the violence.
Not the only gnarly moment in the issue. So Amethyst runs off with her very tall rescuer, who takes her to an old witch, who in turn brings her to Castle Amethyst. Her heritage, her throne, her cute pets... THIS is more like it.
Cue the origin referenced on the Who's Who page, but before you think, okay, it's gemstone princesses from now on, let me hand this to my daughter, be aware that part of the story is told to a nake Amethyst being given a sponge bath by ladies in waiting. The reason fantasy heroines have long hair is the same as for mermaids - to hide their breasts. Sorry readers, this ain't that kind of blog.

Having been robbed of his prize, the evil Lord Sardonyx has his forces attack the castle, and only Amethyst can save it now, with her magic powers, if she can make them work. With a helping hand from the witch, she does!
The army is routed, and Sardonyx tries one last mystical blast, but the witch's own power is enough to slap it away. He goes off to give Lord Opal, his master, excuses. It's all pretty embarrassing for him. As for Amy, she just wants to go home. She's informed that she had that power already, in the amulet, and so returns to Earth mere moments after she disappeared from her bed.
Later that night, she wonders if it was all some strange dream (Chucky Cheese, man...), but no, she's able to open a doorway to Gemworld, so she steps through and finds herself in her magical kingdom once more... but an assassin awaits.

Would I keep reading? I think so, yes. It's a strong fantasy concept, no doubt with all sorts of secret identity troubles on the Earth end, and a whole world to explore on the Gemworld end. I've always liked Ernie Colon's art, and if I put myself in the shoes of my (checks date) 12-year-old self, it's not as girlie as it seemed from the outside.

Who's Next? The man with the animal powers.



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