Get your funky hair dye out and crank up the volume, because today I’m reviewing IDW’s JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS. More specifically, I’ll be reviewing the first story arc, issues #1-6, which have been collected into a trade paper back, called SHOWTIME.
Meet Jerrica Benton – a girl with a secret. She and her sister Kimber team with two friends to become… JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS! But what does it mean to be JEM today? Fashion, art, action, and style collide in Jem and the Holograms: Showtime!
Warning (because different strokes for different folks):
This comic is not for you if you don’t support LGTB lifestyles or if you believe people with larger bodies shouldn’t be shown as accepting/body positive.
Why I picked it up:
JEM, she’s truly outrageous, outrageous. No one else is the same. JEM is her name. JEM! And for those that don’t know, those are lines from the theme song from the 80’s cartoon. (The first theme song. Not the second one. Never the second one.) As a kid, I loved this cartoon. I owned Jem and Pizzazz dolls. I totally crushed on Rio. Mmmmm, nostalgia!
Compared to the 80’s show, which I recently rewatched, it is amaze balls. The TV show seemed to use almost a stencil for everybody, changing hair, coloring, and clothing as needed. Sophie Campbell made the characters a real world collection of people, with different shapes and looks. In the letters section, fans have written to thank Sophie for Clash’s nose, because they have the same nose and hadn’t seen it in comics before. How awesome is that?
With Sophie in charge of the art, it is her job to capture the fashion and glamour theme of the original cartoon. She does it beautifully with an updated look. I hesitate to say modern, because there’s something almost timeless about it all. Like they could have rocked these looks in the 90’s or even ten years from now.
Victoria Robado does the colors and makes Sophie’s art shine. Not just that, but the colors are very much a part of the feel. It wouldn’t be as outrageous with a more subdued or different color pallet.
“Gloria, you’re raving about it. Where did that fifth web go?”
It went with my crush on Rio. Up there in “Why I picked it up,” I told you, “I totally crushed on Rio.” This Rio, not so much. Oddly, that was a big let down for me (because I’m weird).
Oh, Kelly Thompson, what did you have to work with? In the original, no one knows why Jerrica had to pretend to be Jem. I mean, there’s no real reason. Kelly took care of that in a flash! In this case, there is an actual, really good reason: stage fright.
And with that right there you know this origin story is going to be different than the cartoon and in a good way. This isn’t about a girl inheriting her father’s music label and competing against another band so she can control what’s rightfully hers. This is about a band trying to enter a contest and break into the music scene, while overcoming obstacles.
In both versions, of course, there’s a super AI, holograph creating computer of awesome known as Synergy. Which is where the movie failed us all (I say, never having seen it, but that’s what kept me from going to see it). Right now, Synergy don’t have a big part to play, but in the story third arc (starting in January 2016) she will.
Additionally, they pull lots of elements that didn’t come to light until season two. Mainly I speak of the fact that Shana and Aja are Jerrica and Kimber’s foster sisters. Another plot that’s quietly in there? Craig. Eagle eyed cartoon watchers like me know him. We also know that’s going to get messy. Best part? We don’t know when!
Of course, there’s new elements too. The Romeo/Juliet story of Kimber and Stormer, which had somewhat existed as tumblr fan cannon before hand. Such elements are folded in seamlessly and fit the world they evolved.
The Intangible Stuff:
This book had quite a job to do. It had to rock my nostalgia and be updated enough to not make me cringe. And, it wasn’t just me this had to win over. It had to win over my seen-like-two-episodes-only daughter. With a five out of five, you know this won. For us. I mentioned the fan letters before, and IDW was brave enough to print some from people who weren’t feeling it. Some of it was blatant mistakes (like people who didn’t watch Synergy’s origin story and how Shana and Aja came to join the Benton family). Some of it was just different tastes.
All righty, that’s all I got to say on issues #1-6. However, the second arc, issues #7-9, is out. If you want to hear my thoughts on that arc, I’ll be posting them in my newsletter (coming out Tuesday). So, I encourage you to sign up!
Were you a JEM girl like me? Favorite JEM character?
What was your cartoon of choice as a kid? Does it have a comic?