Jem & the Holograms #1 Preview and Review!
Written by Kelly Thompson
Art by Sophie Campbell
Story by Thompson and Campbell
Colors by M . Victoria Robado
Letters by Robbie Robbins
Edits by John Barber
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“Showtime, Part One”
Jerrica Benton is the lead singer of the Holograms… in theory. She just needs to conquer her crippling stage fright in time for the Holograms to submit a demo to a Misfits battle-of-the-bands contest. As luck would have it, she’s soon contacted by her fairy godhologram, Synergy. Jerrica’s father programmed Synergy to be the interface of an amazing supercomputer capable for fantastic holographic illusions. Jerrica knows just what to do with that–she may have stage fright, but if she’s not herself…
I’m honestly not sure what to make of this so far. I feel like after all the hype, this initial outing of Jem really would have benefited from a longer issue so we could really get to know the characters, especially our title heroine. Jem only appears on the last page, and the bulk of this issue is a new retelling of an origin that anyone who has any familiarity with the character already knows. I’m not particularly knocking that–it’s sort of like criticizing a new Spider-Man incarnation for beginning with a radioactive spider biting a nerd and Uncle Ben getting shot. Yet even with the changes, a lot of this is old hat to the old fans, and it would have been nice to see some extra pages that enabled Thompson to really show off how this is a new and different Jem.
I did get a feel for all the Holograms, their likes, their dislikes, and most importantly how their uniqueness can cause friction but also add to the whole. No matter where Thompson goes with this, whether the Holograms gel as one and easily rise to the top or struggle to overcome in-fighting holding them back, I’m going to find it believable.
As an aside, I’ve always been bothered that in the original cartoon, Jerrica never actually has a reason for adopting a secret identity. She just seemingly decides to do it on a whim, then she decides to keep doing it because she doesn’t want to embarrass Rio. Because compounding the lie daily will surely lessen the embarrassment when he finally and inevitably discovers the truth, right? Aside from not being a very convincing reason behind a core concept of the show to exist, it’s not really a good lesson for the impressionable target audience. By simply giving Jerrica stage fright, Thompson has squashed that bug outright and additionally created a wealth of story potential; by using the guise of Jem, Jerrica isn’t confronting her problems. I can already tell that Thompson is going to take us there, and I think it’s going to be a fantastic new addition to the franchise.
Campbell’s art is superb, keeping a very natural and engaging flow to a comic that by nature has little action, especially in this initial point when the conflict hasn’t actually begun. Robado’s colors are a fascinating study in blues and pinks and purples, setting and utilizing a great deal of tone. Please pardon my saying so, but there’s a great deal of synergy between them and the visual appeal in this comic is incredible.
That said, I’m still not sold on these character redesigns. Kimber in particular throws me for a loop, as Jerrica looks far younger than she does. Thompson seems to be referring in part to the redesigns in a brief essay after the story, where she talks about needing the willingness to jettison nostalgia, to not let it bind the concept and make the creative team afraid to take chances. I get what she’s saying here, but the flip side there is that you can run the risk of creating an “In Name Only” take on the property rather than a hot new version. Which one is this? Well, now I’m back to my initial thoughts that this premiere should have had more pages. I just don’t have enough to work with yet.
It’s a very solid book, but… is it Jem? I’m not sure how to answer that yet. However, perhaps Thompson has a point and it’s not that relevant, because I would pick up the next issue regardless.
Favorite Line: “Was Dad freaking Iron Man? Why does he have a super secret technology cave?” –Kimber wonders if she’s in the right book.