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Review: Jem and the Holograms Infinite #1

JemInfiniteCoverJem, the Holograms, and the Misfits are back in Jem and the Holograms Infinite #1, which begins as yet another squabble between the rival bands. However,  by the time you reach the final page cliffhanger, the comic has definitely taken a turn for the sci-fi courtesy of writer Kelly Thompson, artists Stacey Lee and Jen Hickman, and colorist Sarah Stern. It looks like the story of two “families” will play out in a futuristic (still unrevealed) alternate universe and not the music industry as the focus flips to the actual hologram technology instead of the band that uses it.

Most of the plot of Jem Infinite #1 is spent trying to dredge up bad blood between the Holograms and Misfits before a side character hastily flips the comic’s genre. However, the writing of the title doesn’t slip thanks to the return of Kelly Thompson. Thompson has a strong handle on these women’s relationships, emotions, and senses of humor and showcased this in the more character driven Jem and the Misfits miniseries, which turned “villains” into some of the most likable people in this universe through the power of authentic backstories. These characteristics aren’t lost under bickering about events in past issues, and Thompson and Lee make room for Kimber and Stormer to exchange sweet nothings while everyone else feuds.

Speaking of Stacey Lee, the art shift from her to Jen Hickman could be much worse, and colorist Sarah Stern bright take on the Holograms’ and Misfits’ complex makeup helps keep continuity through the issue. But there are some hiccups because Hickman’s work is inked a little bit rougher and has less sheer energy and beauty, JemFiercewhich is why it’s a good thing that Lee handled the double page concert spread and the fierce entrance scenes of the Holograms and the Misfits. Her style evokes the pure pop style candy of Sophie Campbell’s original designs while Hickman’s work is a little quirkier, which might end up making her a good fit for alternate dimensions and space. She also nails Techrat’s post-cyberpunk undercut.

It’s a little disheartening to see the Holograms and Misfits fall back into old patterns of physical violence in the first arc or so of the series after growing as characters for 26 issues and a five issue miniseries. Aja’s pure rage at the Misfits is kind of funny, but the Holograms and Misfits square up ready to throw down and then back out. And there’s really no payoff until the final few pages. The bands are pretty one-dimensional when facing each other, but Thompson does a better job with the relationships inside the band. Jetta talks about a mysterious thing called “the high road”, which they learned about in the Jem and the Misfits when they decided to stop selling out and arguing on camera to boost their reality show ratings.

 On the Holograms side of things, the band discusses telling the public about the fact that Jem is a hologram and is actually Jerrica Benton. Shana thinks that by coming clean that they can spin this story in their favor, but for now, the band decides to keep the secret so their band doesn’t get blacklisted like the Misfits were back in the Stingers arc. The discussion about holograms instead of musical sound and fame is actually a nice transition to the Techrat/alternate universe, and it will be interesting to see if their interdimensional travel influences the possibility of Jem going public with her identity.

Jem and the Holograms: Infinite #1 starts strong with the fierce artwork of Silk‘s Stacey Lee, but then it becomes merely average when Jen Hickman takes over in the back half. Most of Kelly Thompson’s story is resetting the rival dynamic between the Holograms and Misfits and then pouring a whole can of multiversal science fiction into the mix. The Misfits and Holograms’ banter is sharp as ever so fans of the last comic book series shouldn’t be afraid to flip through this one.

Story: Kelly Thompson Artists: Stacey Lee, Jen Hickman Colors: Sarah Stern
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.3 Recommendation: Read

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Jem and the Holograms #2

jem002The choice to reboot Jem and the Holograms into comics is probably one which left some fans of the medium scratching their heads.  Jem had a decent run on animated television in the 1980s, but her fan base had long since dissipated and there were few that asked for the return of her and her bandmates.  The first issue of the new series from IDW proved something else though, that while there might have been little reason to demand a return for Jem, there maybe should have been.  With the crush of girl-centric books on the market, it made sense to go back to the female rocker from the 1980s that proved that it is possible to be strong and feminine at the same time.

Some might have been a bit disappointed with the first issue in a different context though, specifically that Jem was mostly absent, instead dealing with the introduction of the character through her alter ego Jerrica.  For those that decided to stick around to check out the followup issue, they would find that as opposed to dealing on the past that the band is heading straight to the future.  This is primarily done with the introduction of the anti-Holograms, the Misfits.  The popular group is looking for an easy band to beat in an upcoming battle of the bands contest, and while they are hoping to choose their foe for an easy defeat (as it is their own contest) pressure is building through social media to force the two bands head to head in the contest.  There are a few other factors at play here, specifically the introduction of what might be a romatic interest for Jem, but mostly the story sticks to the battle of the bands and throws in a few curves.

This issue does a good job and bascially doing what it must.  It is still growing into its space a little bit, as the sometimes disjointed conversation alludes to, but most of all this is an overall treat which doesn’t let up.  The art is a treat and while the battle of the bands story might seem a bit obvious, so too do the Holograms need some kind of antagonist in their journey to pop stardom.  They have found it in the Misfits, and the series is better off for it, as it seems to be progressing and developing in a natural manner.

Story: Kelly Thompson  Art: Sophie Campbell
Story: 8.6  Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy