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Review: Jem and the Holograms #1

At the beginning of March, I wrote about the reboot of the 80s cartoon Jem and the Holograms as a comic. At the time, I was skeptical about the reboot. Jem and the Holograms is a treasured memory from my childhood and I didn’t want to see it ruined. Fortunately, IDW put the book into very capable hands, and I was anything but disappointed.

Review: Jem and the Holograms #1
Written by Kelly Thompson; Art by Sophie Campbell; Colors by M. Victoria Robado; Letters by Robbie Robbins
IDW Publishing, March 2015
26pgs, $3.99USD

The issue starts by introducing the Holograms and their predicament. Kimber, Aja, Shana and Jerrica are on a deadline to enter the “Misfits VS!” contest, but Jerrica, the band’s vocalist, can’t perform in front of anyone but the band. After hearing her friends argue about her problem, Jerrica goes back to their home studio. It is raining and the storm causes a blackout, and Jerrica is then visited by a strange, glowing woman. She is Synergy, the holographic representation of a supercomputer built by Jerrica’s and Kimber’s father Emmett Benten. He also left Jerrica a pair of remote holographic earrings. With the earrings and Synergy’s abilities, Jerrica creates a hologram that she thinks will help her get over her crippling stage fright.

This first issue is all about setup. It introduces the Holograms and gives Jerrica a reason for creating a new persona for performing. The characters are more than just updates of the cartoon. Kimber is very much the take-charge type this time. She gives Jerrica an ultimatum that the Kimber from the cartoon never would. Aja and Shana also treat her more like an equal than the “kid-sister” to be patronized. On the other hand, other than her stage fright, Jerrica doesn’t seem much different. She takes on a lot of the responsibility, such as setting up the shoot for the band. She also shoulders the burden of letting her sisters down, which she tries to do alone. The fight between Kimber and Aja shows how much of a family they are. Kimber and Aja start bickering and only stop when Shana gets angry enough to hit a cymbal to interrupt them. I love the surprised look on their faces. It’s obvious things have gone too far when Shana has to raise her voice.

My favorite part of the issue is the introduction of Synergy. It’s so close to the original cartoon scene that I had almost see it replay in my mind. The rain storm, Synergy’s ethereal appearance, even her first words to Jerrica, all reflect that scene perfectly. Synergy has gotten a well-deserved upgrade. No longer the pipe-organ contraption from the cartoon, she is now a fantastic computer hidden underneath the studio. Kimber’s reaction was hysterical, asking if their father was really Iron Man. I also really enjoyed that Jerrica could jump right in and start using Synergy to create her new look.

Sophie Campbell’s art is fantastic. I’m totally on board with the new designs. It’s great to see characters with different body types. Their clothes call back to their original designs while also reflecting their modern interpretation. I also really like how she portrays the music. Not with notes waving around the air as is typically done, but with streams of color flowing from the instruments and all over the page. It gives a magical and encompassing feel to it. Her panel layouts emphasizes Thompson’s writing, giving more punch to the dialog.

This first issue of Jem and the Holograms was a great opening to the series and introduction to the characters. I’m completely on board with this reboot and I’m sure old fans will join me. There’s plenty for new fans to latch onto as well with the fantastic art and believable, relatable characters. I’m really looking forward to see how Thompson and Campbell handle the Misfits and Rio. I can’t wait for the next issue!

Lori Henderson About Lori Henderson

Lori Henderson is a mother of two teenage daughters and an avid reader. She blogs about manga at her personal blog Manga Xanadu as well as contributing and editing for Manga Village. She blogs about all things fandom (mainly Doctor Who) at her other personal blog Fangirl Xanadu. She's been at it so for over 5 years now and counting!

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