Makin’ Mischief with “Jem and the Holograms #2” – REVIEW

Apr 29, 2015

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Jem 2 coverJem and the Holograms #2
IDW Publishing

Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Sophie Campbell
Colors: M. Victoria Robado

(For the uninitiated, check out my review of Jem #1!) This month, we meet the Misfits, and it is awesome. After a short recap, we open to three full pages of the Misfits in the midst of a hard rock performance on the set of VJ Lin-Z’s hit show. The Misfits are the darker, edgy counterpoint to the Holograms’ brighter, more romantic sound, and it shows in Sophie Campbell and colorist M. Victoria Robado’s stunning artwork.

The campy, catchy music videos were a centerpoint of the original show, and recreating that vibe in a comic can’t be easy, but Campbell and Robado manage it perfectly, evoking the intensity of a live performance on a static page. Thompson captures all the attitude and arrogance of the Misfits perfectly, and it’s amazing to see these characters brought to life again in a fresh new way. The story moves at a satisfying clip, introducing the Misfits and their bad attitudes all while revealing the instant success of Jem and the Holograms’ Synergy-backed pop rock entry into the Misfits vs! battle of the bands competition introduced last month.

What I absolutely love about this comic is what a stellar job Thompson and Campbell have done updating the characters without losing the spirit of the original show. Rio Pacheco, introduced in the cartoon as Jerrica’s boyfriend and then Jem’s manager, is now a music blogger who meets Jerrica for the first time after Kimber’s twitter feed rats Jerrica out as manager of Jem and the Holograms. It’s a much cuter and more relevant meet-cute, giving an added element of realism to world based on a music label CEO who secretly moonlights as a global singing sensation.(It also immediately makes Rio’s utter unawareness of Jem being Jerrica infinitely more believable, for which I am very grateful.)

As an added bonus, we get the first hints of Kimber and Stormer’s romance — an almost legendary not-quite-romance from the original show, based on one of my favorite episodes, “The Bands Break Up.” For most folks I imagine it’s easy to watch this episode and just see a couple of girls being close friends writing great songs. For folks like me itching for any hint of queer representation, it’s still kind of staggering to think about an episode all about Kimber and Stormer’s whirlwind romance hitting the airwaves for the first time.

In Campbell’s run, there’s no wink and nod — Kimber determinedly seeks out Stormer at a Misfits signing (whereJem 2 Page she’s been abandoned by her bandmates) and hits her up for a non-platonic coffee date. The Misfits catch sight of them in a window after a shopping spree, and there we end on a cliffhanger, with Pizazz announcing it’s time to confront a traitor.

I can’t pretend this isn’t my favorite part of the (albeit short) series to date, and I don’t feel bad about it: storylines like this aren’t things anyone is obligated to do, and while many including myself might have been disappointed not to see a Kimber/Stormer romance, it’s certainly Thompson and IDW’s prerogative.

But they did, and so far aside from Stormer’s perceived treachery, it seems like it’s no big deal. It’s just that incidentally, they like each other, the same way Rio thinks Jerrica’s adorable enough to ask to dinner. It’s amazing to see, and I’m both grateful and stoked to see what’s coming up for the book overall in the coming months. (Rumor is, there are guitarcycles.)

Jem Jam of the Month: In honor of the Misfits’ first appearance, Makin’ Mischief.