Grumpy Bird Reviews: Jem and the Holograms #1

I don’t have any nostalgia for Jem nor the Holograms. It was the 80s cartoon that came on when I wanted to watch GI Joe or perhaps TMNT. Maybe it was my lack of love for 80s music and no real interest in the crazy fashion they were wearing. Maybe it was just that it had girls. I don’t know. But the comic is here and I wanted to give it a read.

d6016760-12a7-4024-afbf-a31ab6d409a0Jem and the Holograms #1

Writer: Kelly Thompson

Artist: Sophie (formerly Ross) Campbell

Publisher: IDW

Let me start off by praising the thing that made me interested in this book: Campbell’s art. After reading Glory and then the few issues that Campbell did of TMNT, when heard she was involved I knew I had to pick up this issue. And the art is very nice. I love that Campbell can use a variety of bodytypes for the four main women invovled and make them all look real while still being cartoony. She does a great job of capturing emotions on the page, even if most of the emotions in the book are surprisingly sad sack ones.

So, now onto the plot: Four women are in a band and are working on a submission video for a battle of the bands type thing. Except their singer is shy and doesn’t like to be heard. Why is she the singer? Because reasons. And her younger sister is in the band. I don’t know. Maybe this is a hold over from the cartoon? But since the singer won’t sing there is the potential the band might break up. Fotuntely the sisters’ dead father also had a science bunker where he had created an advanced AI as well as crazy sci fi hologram tech earrings. Sounds almost as farfetched as getting super powers from a radioactive spider bite. The good news is that this hologram tech will give the shy singer a chance to perform, although we aren’t given the specifics of what this will be.

Sure. Why not. I’m not exactly sold yet. There was a big exposition dump in the middle where we kinda get told that the history. But timelines are kind of funny. And the older sister looks younger than the younger sister, but maybe that is the cothes and the hair. Honestly, the part that is the hardest to believe is that the band would have been together for years with a singer that won’t sing. It really is the big snag that I’m having a hard time letting go and it seems like the only reason it is there is to motivate the hologram bit. There had to be a better way to make that happen.

As for the holograms, there is something creepy about it. The performance-phobic singer needs to make a hologram of herself to perform but the hologram she makes is a rather idealized one. There are just a few icky implications there about the importance of being beautiful and hiding the real you to be popular. Hopefully this will get addressed and soundly thrashed later on.

I imagine if you are a fan of Jem this might be awesome. If you aren’t? It is a bit of a mixed bag. There is some clunky exposition that makes you want to figure out how recently the dad died and then there is the above weirdness. The issue is almost all set up for the end of issue pay off, but it is what we all knew was coming so it just feels kind of empty. Perhaps instead of rushing to the Jem reveal maybe it would have been better to give us a more organic introduction to who our characters are?

Still, the art is beautiful.


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