Jem and the Holograms #1 Review – Beautiful, Bubblegum Pop Fun

As part of its deal with Hasbro that includes Transformers and G.I. Joe, IDW has turned its attention to a long dormant, but beloved 1980s property Jem and the Holograms.

This first issue is an origin story as sisters Shana, Aja, and Kimber band together to help their talented lead singer Jerrica overcome her stage fright. It is filled with magic, music, and gorgeously designed characters. Jem and the Holograms #1 is written by novelist and comic book journalist Kelly Thompson (The Girl Who Would Be King) with art from Sophie Campbell (TMNT, Glory) and colors by M. Victoria Robado (Littlest Pet Shop).

So does Jem and the Holograms #1’s story match the fabulous, fresh costume redesigns?

Sophie Campbell really went for the broke with the new-look Holograms’ hairstyles and costumes, but she has a feathery storytelling touch, and the comic isn’t all loud splash pages and music numbers. The story begins with a pink pastel double page splash of Jerrica and her bandmates doing a music video shoot, but Campbell immediately brings in a series of movie reel style panels showing Jerrica’s discomfort. Later, in the story, Kelly Thompson shows her aptitude for family arguments with a side of pop star diva, but she puts on the brakes with her dialogue and focuses on Jerrica’s personal struggles as she goes from

How do the characters come off?

If you’ve seen the variant covers (There are a dozen.) and previews, Jerrica, Shana, Aja, and (especially) Kimber’s unique fashion sensibilities are front and center. However, Thompson and Campbell ensure that they’re more than pretty faces. Kimber seems like the youngest and is chock-full of confidence as she tries to help Jerrica snap out of her fear of performing. Thompson crafts a relatable family dynamic between the sisters as Aja tries to call Kimber out on her insensitivity, which leads to more arguments. Luckily, there are “holographic” elements to move the plot, but Thompson continues to develop the themes of identity as the plot become more sci-fi based. It is also a breath of fresh air to see Campbell draw women with different body shapes and hair styles in a such a beautiful manner.

What is the plot like?

In Jem and the Holograms #1, Kelly Thompson introduces the titular band and their dynamic, their problems with Jerrica and a whole host of other things like their relationship with their dead father and his technology. Thompson squeezes in slightly too much text block exposition, but Sophie Campbell masterfully uses panel space to show Jerrica’s distance from the group as the rest of the band tries to figure a way to work around her in the music video shoot. She also utilizes close-ups of characters eyes and faces to show how much succeeding as a band means to them, especially Kimber.

Can I take a second to talk about M. Victoria Robado’s colors?

Go ahead. From the first page forward, Robado puts the “pop” in pop star. She almost exclusively uses a pastel palette, like the original cartoon, but wrings out a variety of tones from it. Pink and purple are versatile colors, and Robado uses them in a range of situations from the opening music video shoot (which is Gwen Stefani’s Love Angel Music Baby style turned up to 11) to some of the sad, personal bits with Jerrica. She and Campbell give Jem and the Holograms #1 a gorgeous pop sheen and vibrant energy to go with its novel and iconic character designs.

Is Jem and the Holograms #1 worth picking up?

Some bits of clunky tell don’t show exposition aside, Jem and the Holograms #1 is a delectable blend of eye catching character designs and interesting personalities. The characters aren’t always super nice to each other, but Thompson and Campbell show that they truly care for each other despite their differences. Jem and the Holograms #1 is one of the most stylish books of 2015 so far, and it has some real substance to match with its heroine Jerrica, and her relatable struggles.

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