Rating: 4/5 – Scintillating Showtime Synergy!
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Amy Okamoto.
The original girl-power group Jem and The Holograms is back in this updated version of the beloved cartoon series from the 80s. Largely an origin story, this issue introduces sisters Jerrica and Kimber, who along with their friends Aja and Shana, form The Holograms. The four girls are all close friends, and each has her own talents. Jerrica however, has crippling stage fright, and after several failed attempts to film a competition video, the band is ready to split up. Despite the tension that this causes, the underlying sense of family and caring is pervasive throughout the issue. You can’t help but like these plucky and relatable young women. When the group discovers the amazing legacy that their father has left them, they seize the opportunity to follow their dream of being a legitimate band.
Writer Kelly Thompson does a nice job of setting up a plausible reason why “Jem”, Jerrica’s holographic alter-ego, needs to exist. Artist Sophie Campbell’s characters are cuter than the originals and gives them a winsome quality. She does a good job of making them “act” which makes it easier to emphasize with them. Also notable is the characters’ diversity. They are more varied in body type, race, and sexual orientation than their 80s counterparts. Interestingly, Jerrica chooses to represent herself as a towering glamazon in the form of “Jem.” I found her more appealing as herself. There is an opportunity here for Thompson to create a commentary on celebrity and beauty ideals.
Although familiar with the concept, I’m new to Jem. When the cartoon debuted back in 1986, I was already firmly ensconced in idolizing Sonic Youth and Kim Gordon. The girlish cartoon band didn’t appeal then. The creators of the comic are hoping to reach a new generation as well as nostalgic fans. That in mind, after reviewing it myself, I tested the book out on my seven year old daughter. Other than a couple of words that I don’t want her to use, the book was child-friendly. She enjoyed the story and didn’t have any problem following the plot line. Jerrica is already her favorite character but she liked all of the young women. The colorful and pretty artwork was appealing to her as was the holographic title on the cover. When we finished reading, she immediately wanted to know when the next issue is coming out. I haven’t seen her this excited about a comic since My Little Pony debuted.
After the initial storyline, each of the characters is treated to her own spotlight page of facts. This was a quick way to get up to speed on who these ladies are, and it was a big hit with my daughter. The next issue introduces rival band The Misfits, and I hope that they will be treated with the same spotlight review.
Jem and The Holograms #1 debuts as a solid reboot of the 80s cartoon. With its vivid art and winning characters, this eye-catching book will appeal to both new readers and old fans. If the story lines and dialogue continue to be all-age accessible, IDW will have a hit with this musical group.
Reviewed by: Amy Okamoto
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