Princess Gwenevere Is Back with a New Adventure!

It seemed too good to be true when I learned that a Jewel Riders graphic novel was coming out nearly 30 years after the show ended. Though I thought the wait would seem endless, I was holding this magical book in my hands before I knew it. Featuring brand-new artwork and new stories about some of my favorite characters, this book is an absolute dream come true. This show means the world to me. It was the first series to spark my lifelong love of animated princesses, and it was my first introduction to the Magical Girl genre. I thought I was the only one who still remembered it until two of my friends founded the Jewel Riders Archive and allowed the show's small circle of faithful followers to celebrate the 25th anniversary and our happy memories of growing up with such a beautiful and magical world. Now that world can be shared with a new audience thanks to a collaboration between 41 Entertainment and Maverick, a division of Mad Cave Studios, in the first volume of a brand new graphic novel series that continues the adventures of Princess Gwenevere, Tamara, and Fallon.

I was incredibly pleased with the new art style that Koi Carreon provides for the novel. The cover art showcases the bright and glittery nature of the show with a few modern updates that remain true to the essence of the characters' designs. While most modern-day reboots strive for darker and grittier versions that risk losing what made the original content so appealing, this story is grounded in the same version of Avalon that I grew up with. The colors inside the book are slightly duller than the ones on the cover, particularly Gwen's hair, but it didn't take a long time to get used to once I became engrossed in the new story from Jordie Bellaire. The novel is written for a YA audience, which is perfect for people who grew up with the show as well as teenagers and young adults who are being introduced to it for the first time. Although the plot gets a tad darker than the cartoon, its primary appeal is to people who prefer noblebright fantasy stories like the original show.

The graphic novel picks up right where the series left off with the Jewel Riders having saved Avalon and are ready to move on to the next phase of their lives. Gwenevere is in a rocky engagement with Drake, which follows her flighty relationship with him in the show, and must face her responsibilities as Avalon's future queen. Fallon becomes the new leader of the Pack, and Tamara gets closer to Merlin as he grooms her to become his protégé. The true heart of the novel, however, derives from the backstory, when Gwenevere's mother and aunt were training to become Jewel Riders a generation earlier. Most of the angst and intrigue takes place on the queen's behalf, which was an excellent choice because her story was something that the show always hinted at but never quite delved into. This makes it all the more perplexing that the graphic novel gets her name wrong. Instead of Queen Anya, she is referred to only as Adrianna with no explanation for such a change. We now have yet another instance of a character from this franchise having two names, the first being Gwenevere herself, who was known as Starla in European countries, something that the graphic novel makes a cheeky nod to.

Despite the misnomer of a major character, the graphic novel does a great job of staying true to the essence of the world and its characters. The Jewel Riders remain in character, and Queen Anya/Adrianna and King Jared reveal some darker sides of their personalities. I was pleased to see cameos of some of my favorite characters from the episode "The Faery Princess." Lauren Hitzhusen, the editor of the graphic novel, revealed in an interview that she was a huge fan of the show as a kid, which may account for how true it stayed to its source material. The big villain reveal at the end hardly came as a surprise considering how much of the art style followed the show's more popular first season. However, the way the villain returned is a fascinating character study that will hopefully be continued in a future volume. Considering how obscure this series still is, I do not want to get my hopes up in case the first volume doesn't sell enough copies for a sequel. If you are a fan of the Jewel Riders franchise, I implore you to purchase a copy or Amazon or splurge on the silver foil-covered limited edition directly from Mad Cave Studios' website to ensure the series has a long and successful run.

The Jewel Riders graphic novel is a dream come true for fans of the original series. With its vibrant artwork, engaging storyline, and faithful adaptation of the beloved characters, it's a must-read for both old and new fans alike. While it may have some minor flaws, the graphic novel stays true to the essence of the show and its noblebright fantasy world. As a fan of the series, I implore you to support this new iteration by purchasing a copy, ensuring the continuation of this enchanting story. Let's ride again with Princess Gwenevere, Tamara, and Fallon, and relive the magic of Avalon!


Stormy said…
I really enjoyed seeing a bit of Anya and Kale's backstory and thought the idea of using their sisterhood to drive the plot was a brilliant writing choice. My biggest disappointment was that the graphic novel had no background page explaining who all the characters were and what happened in the show. I think anyone who picks up the book without having seen the cartoon will be totally lost, and I think not having anything to help new readers out was a mistake on Maverick's part.
Lisa Dawn said…
I think modern readers are smart enough to get that stuff from context clues, but old fans will be confused by the name change.

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