She's a blond princess who doesn't know she's the princess of a lost magical kingdom. She's being raised on Earth with a new family with no knowledge of a former, more magical life. Suddenly, on her 13th birthday she finds out she has a magical destiny to defeat the evil force that destroyed her home world. She's granted magical powers, a cool animal friend, and some friends to help her fight.
Nope, Amethyst Princess of Gemworld
DC Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld (1985) | Paris Cullins
Yes, yes. The Obscure DC hero the appeared first in 1983 hardly has the same impact as Sailor Moon, but hear me out! Amethyst was one of the U.S.'s first magical girl series and I refuse to let her legacy be buried. She was Sailor Moon before Sailor Moon! Well... kinda.
Amethyst Princess of Gemworld first appeared in a special insert of the April '83 issue of The Legion of Super-Heroes and got a 12 issue limited series shortly after that. Followed by an annual and 16 issue ongoing in '85 to '86 and then a special one shot and 4 issue limited series and then... nothing.
Amethyst rose and fell in the 80s and no one seemed to pay her much attention again until the 2005 DC Infinite Crisis story line. There was an attempted (and short lived) revival in DC's New 52 stunt in 2012 but like many other titles at that time it was canceled a year later and only made it to 8 issues, the shortest Amethyst run to date.
In 2013 she got a modern make over in the seven episode animated DC Nation time block on Cartoon Network. The animated series was short and centered around the main character going to Gemworld through a DND-esque video game. It was Isekai meet magical girl in the contemporary senses of the words and it modernized all the genre tropes that already existed to make them more obvious for the current audience.
DC Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld (2013) | Brianne Drouhard
By 2013 U.S. audiences already had an idea of what these things were. Not only was anime with these concepts more accessible bu shows like Sailor Moon and Sword Art Online had primed global audiences to not only better understand these popular genre tropes but to enjoy them. We had a basis and terms to define what was happening allowing people to better categorize and see Amethyst as a magical girl.
A Magical Girl is... born?
Except nothing really changed! it was the same story that was told in the original comics, the only difference was a modern bit of flair. Amethyst was ahead of her time and maybe outside her audience. She was one of the first magical girl style warriors to be born into this world almost a full decade before Sailor Moon started kicking ass.
Something I personally love about this cultural ouroboros is that the tropes Amethyst borrowed to make herself more heavily recognized as a magical girl came from Sailor Moon.
Transformations may have been a staple of the magical girl genre since it started in the 60s but the specific style of transformation Amethyst utilizes is directly influenced from Sailor Moon. The transformation wasn't the only thing. There's a sequence at the end of the series that seems to be taking inspiration as well.
And it absolutely makes sense that this modern imagining would take notes from the most culturally influential magical girl that hit the world. The creator of the animated short did mention being influenced by the Japanese production studio she got to work with to animate the short, not to mention growing up in the 80s with the early anime boom. This puts her as a young adult in the 90s meaning the iconic sailor collar clad magical girl was prime pickings for inspiration.
If it wasn't for Brianne Drouhard and Sailor Moon, Amethyst would have stayed in D-List DC Hero Purgatory.
DC Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld (1985) | Ernie Colón
Thanks to the show's popularity Amethyst has had a resurgence. Not only did Amethyst appear animated again in the short lived DC Superhero Girls but she's a member of the new 2019 Young Justice team and even has her own solo title at the time of writing, the first one since the ill-fated new 52 introduction. However, this this resurgence comes the danger's of history repeating.
The 80s seemed a prime time for a character like Amethyst. She-Ra: Princess of Power - another blond in a DND style fantasy world wielding a sword and magic powers- was a pop culture phenomenon and began airing in 1985, the same year as Amethyst's 16 issue run.
It wasn't that the market wasn't right for the medium either. Amethyst's comic came out at the tail end of the Bronze Age in U.S.'s comic book history, an era where a number of female heroes were released and thriving: She-Hulk (1980), Ms. Marvel (1977), Red Sonja (1973), etc. These were all women who had solo titles for decades, who stayed fan favourites and who had roles beyond just providing a cover for perceived gay male superheroes. So why did Amethyst fall into the abyss?
Maybe it's because she was coming in at the end of the Bronze age and people who were reading comics had began acquiring a taste for edgier pieces- i.e. Watchmen (1986) or Frank Miller's Batman run in the same year. Though upbeat Archie Slice of Life style comics were still popular, the superhero market was shifting and Amethyst was lost in the shuffle.
The same thing may be happening now: the market seems to be perfect for Amethyst to survive but superhero comics are being left in the dust,. Trade paperbacks and digital comics are definitely more popular than individual paper copies, which is how fans commonly believe DC measures success.
Whatever the future holds for Amethyst, she's proven before that she will not remained buried or forgotten. She may not have the same cultural impact as Sailor Moon but she does seem to have the same tenacity to never quite fade away.
DC Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld (2020) | Amy Reeder