IDW Review & Spoilers: Jem And the Holograms #1 by Kelly Thompson, Ross Campbell & M. Victoria Robado

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JEM and the HOLOGRAMS #1 Review & Spoilers
“Showtime, pt. 1” (20 pages)
Written by: Kelly Thompson
Art by: Ross Campbell
Story by: Thompson & Campbell
Colors by: M. Victoria Robado
Letters by: Robbie Robbins
Covers by: Ross Campbell; Amy Mebberson; Sara Richard; Artgerm; Agnes Garbowska; Amanda Conner w/ Paul Mounts
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99

Jem.
Jem is excitement.
Ooh, ooh, Jem.
Jem is adventure.
Ooh, ooh.
Glamor and glitter, fashion and fame,
Jem.
Jem is truly outrageous.
Truly, truly, truly outrageous.
Whoa, Jem!
Jem, the music’s contagious, outrageous.
Jem is my name. No one else is the same.

[excerpt from the “JEM Theme Song”]

Welcome to the exciting world of Jem, redux!!! Kelly Thompson and Ross Campbell update her origin for the age of the internet and social media. They slap on a fresh coat of paint to an 80’s animation mainstay. Read on!

Jerrica Benton is undergoing stage fright in the worst kind of way. As she’s rehearsing with her band, she literally chokes in front of the mic. The words just don’t want to come out. She steps outside for some much-needed air. Younger sibling Kimber follows suit. Kimber doesn’t understand the cause since Jerrica belts out a perfect tune each and every time in the privacy of their own home. Jerrica has no answer to offer. Nevertheless, Kimber cuts to the heart of the matter — Jerrica is sabotaging her own chances of success as well as her bandmates’. The third time’s not the charm since Jerrica has scheduled then cancelled the photo shoots. Kimber is beyond frustrated. If Jerrica doesn’t shape up, she’s shipping out. Kimber is ready to pursue her own career path. The pep talk is more a slap in the face.

Jerrica tries valiantly to compose herself before re-entering the fray. Shana asks Kimber if Jerrica is literally returning. Kimber affirms this. Shana then speculates the cause of Jerrica’s fears. Having four extra people in the camera crew doesn’t seem to be enough of a deterrent in Kimber’s eyes. She and Aja rekindle a feud. It starts with adjusting a speaker and escalates into exchanging insults. Shana breaks it up by smashing a cymbal. Shana has had her fill of the arguments since they always revolve around Jerrica. The three talk it out not knowing Jerrica is near overhearing everything. Jerrica’s fear of performing is extremely problematic. The girl freezes. Period. It doesn’t matter how many people are around, she simply can’t cough up the courage. The trio contemplate their eligibility to enter a contest that would grant them some moolah and put them on the map. Apologies are issued. No one is giving up just yet.

A few hours later, Jerrica is in the comfort of her home. Drying herself from the rain, she eyes her guitar and begins to strum. Inspiration ignites within as she dishes out a few lyrics. Just as suddenly as she has started, she halts due to a power outage. A sinister silhouette approaches. It’s Synergy!! Who?!? She’s a holographic computer created by Jerrica’s father Emmett. Her sole purpose is to be the ultimate audiovisual entertainment synthesizer. Her surprise appearance is due to the presence of a holographic projector in the living room. The storm rebooted her system. She tells Jerrica that back-up generators would be ideal for the domicile.

Kimber feels a bit guilty at the harsh treatment towards Jerrica. Aja assures her that she spoke true and did nothing wrong. They are en route to the home studio. It is the only safe haven, logically speaking.

Synergy tells Jerrica of a birthday gift that her father bequeathed before his death. It is located in a safe. Jerrica doesn’t know the code but that is easily resolved when Synergy says that the password is her namesake. In a tiny box are a pair of star-shaped earrings. Jerrica quickly realizes that they are holographic projectors and they are remote. Thus, they can be used wherever she may be. How she came to this leaves me a bit stunned. The duo are interrupted by the others’ entrance. Synergy addresses them all personally. How creeped out would you be if you saw and heard a walking, talking computer know exactly who you are?? The other three are pondering their own sanity.

Synergy instructs Aja to punch in a seven-digit code into the jukebox. Aja states that only four numbers can be entered. Synergy assures her of her instructions. Once inputted, a sliding door is opened revealing a secret passage to an underground base. Kimber is astounded!! She ponders about her deceased father being some secret superhero to the tune of “that iron guy” Aja flatly corrects her by uttering “Iron Man”. Oh snap!! I hope no lawsuits emerge. Kimber can’t contain her excitement. Jerrica has no clue but she sees the potential of the base.

Jerrica commands Synergy to show her stuff. Syn complies by creating holograms of Jerrica and Kimber. The two are beside themselves (literally!). Kimber’s excitement quickly wears off when her artificial selves super-imposed on Aja and Shana disappear. Jerrica has found the solution to her own problem as well as that of the band’s. She can use another persona for the performances. The video shoot will resume. Jerrica must be some kind of computer genius because she realizes that using the earrings involves simple code. Aja is a bit unsure but with a press of the earrings, Jerrica Benton is gone. Enter: Jem!! Tagline: “It’s showtime!

This is my first-ever review for IDW, another fine independent company. Yay, me!! I asked my editor to do this piece. This request was partly for amusement and partly to widen the scope of my personal reading. I never did watch an entire episode of this series but I would catch snippets. Even for the time it was created, it was pretty decent. JEM the animated series epitomized the 80’s to a tee (complete with poofy hair and leggings, etc.) I’m a feminist at heart therefore I really relished reading this issue.

I like to challenge myself. I have a peripheral knowledge of Kelly Thompson. I’ve read a few of her articles on www.comicbookresources.com *pause* I’m back from doing some research. She has two major novels out, one of which is commissioned to be a movie. Plus, she has upcoming projects with Dark Horse and Marvel. Impressive!! At any rate, she is the right voice for this group of young girls. I read the letters column meticulously. I love her statement that “nostalgia is a liar…” One of the best quotes ever! She also credits Christy Marx, another current comic writer, as her source of motivation to deliver this new chapter on the printed page. The setup is simple. Then again, it doesn’t need to be complicated. I appreciate that the origin is brief and concise without having to plod through wordy exposition and drawn-out dramatic moments.

Ross Campbell is the co-creator on this. It’s my first time hearing of this individual. Interesting…after reading through the bio, Ross is now a woman who transitioned the past year. Presently, she goes by Sophie. Kudos to you!! Such courage to embrace that. Ross’ art has an animation feel befitting of the tone of this book and acknowledging the medium of yore. Her pencils define every single character. I’m glad Ross doesn’t glamorize the ladies too much by drawing them with unrealistic proportions. Each body type is perfectly fine and suitable. Jerrica has a lot of weight on her shoulders. Kimber is feisty and outspoken. Shana is reserved and quiet. Aja is cautious and contemplative. Jem is a natural-born star!

M. Victoria Robado uses a lot of light colours (no pun intended!). This makes perfect sense to recapture the vibe of the TV show. Purples and pinks are a match. Synergy looks every bit as ‘outrageous’ as she’s intended to be. All the bandmates have variations of the two colours used which transplants onto their individual fashion styles. Interestingly enough, Jerrica is the only one that veers away, imbued with soft blue and subtle coral. Another unknown creator for me but the end result is superb!

Robbie Robbins is the only male member on this book. So what? It’s not a battle of the sexes!! Either way, his work stands out most with Emmett’s handwritten note, Synergy’s speech, and Jem’s exclamation of “It’s showtime!” as well as the “to be continued…” surrounded by stars. What else? 😉

This was a much better read than I expected. I will admit that it’s not my standard cup of tea but I’m truly wanting (for lack of a better word) to expand my horizons given the enormous amount of monthlies produced by the best names in the industry. I will continue to follow. Plus, I gotta see if I can find the toon on Netflix 😀

Jem.
Jem is truly outrageous, contagious.
Jem is my name. No one else is the same.
Jem.

A most glowing rating awaits!! In acknowledgement of Jerrica’s earrings, I give this book 2 stars (9.5 out of 10) Is it due to a newly awakened sentimentality or yearning for nostalgia? Doesn’t matter! Just enjoy JEM!! Oops! and the Holograms!

Jem winking

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