Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Trade Of The Month: Jem & The Holograms Vol. 1 Showtime

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Jem and The Holograms: SHOWTIME
Written by Kelly Thompson
Art by Sophie Campbell
Story by Thompson & Campbell
Colors by M. Victoria Robado
Letters by Shawn Lee, Tom Long, and Robbie Robbins

Originally Jem & The Holograms was a cartoon in the 80s. There was a movie made in 2015. Now its a comic book series. If you watched the cartoon you're wondering if it does justice to the cartoon. If you saw the movie you're probably hoping the comic is better. I'm sure you have plenty of other questions like does it still take place in the 80s, does it have the same or similar origin story, what about Synergy. These are all valid questions, questions I fully intend on answering. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the answers I give you.

If you are unfamiliar with the story I'll tell you all about it. It's about four girls all raised together. Their father passed away. They want to be a band. The lead singer and main song writer, Jerrica, cannot get over her stage fright. She finds a gift her father left for her, Synergy. Synergy is a holographic computer AI. Jerrica uses this new gift to stand in for her as the lead singer which she calls Jem. The cartoon and comic almost have the exact same origin story. After that is setup it becomes something new, fresh, though still totally outrageous. The girls put in their video for a contest against the Misfits, another band, who are already famous. From there drama ensues. The Misfits try to sabotage Jem & The Holograms. Jerrica meets a boy, Rio. Kimber, the keytarist and other singer/songwriter of The Holograms pursues Stormer, the keytarist of The Misfits. The Holograms guitarist and techie, Aja, gets injured at a gig. Then there's Shana, the drummer, make up artist, and fashionista of and for the band doing her thing. Everything comes to a climax at the Misfits VS Battle of the Bands event. That pretty much sums up this graphic novel story.
Unfortunately, the Jem & The Holograms comic does not take place in the 80s. Fortunately, it was updated to current times and done superbly. It's just as colorful and fashionable as it was before, if not more, in the best and brightest ways. Especially if you're a female, there is at least one character you can relate to and as a Hispanic male, I finally could. You have a blond, shy, stage fright, brilliant song writer, and amazing singer, girl next door, in Jerrica. There's the redheaded, wild, crazy, living in the moment, freebird, Kimber, that likes girls. Then brown girl guitarist, techie, geek, nerd, devil may care character, Aja, with blue hair. Also, Shana, the black chick drummer, thats into fashion and makeup and she has purple hair. Of course there's Pizzazz, the white girl diva rocker, of the Misfits, pleasantly plump, Stormer, and much more. Like I said, representation, there's people of multiple ethnicity's, and sexual preferences. Everyone has their own styles and personalities.The entire book is exploding with bright bursting powerful colors. The locales feel real with their vibrant energy despite everything else being so over the top. Its a fun, fluid, somewhat cartoony, look and feel to it. The fashion is so fabulous, fun, and exciting. Artist, Sophie Campbell, and colorist M. Victoria Robado fill this book with flowing art that is bursting at the seams.

Nostalgia can be a horrible or wonderful thing. In this case Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell use their own nostalgia to recreate something even better in this story. It feels so organic, real, natural yet full of the the top experiences. There's not much more I can say without spoiling the book but I must cover one big element of Jem & The Holograms, the music. Music is hard. Music is even harder to convey in comics. Somehow they knocked it out of the park here. It feels like a music video with stills. I can hear and feel the music. Jem & The Holograms have this pop star tone with a tinge of 80s pop rock in there whereas the Misfits definitely are an 80s punk pop hair metal band though both seem like real recent bands. The sound of music in your head may sound different based off your own likes and conceptions of what it would sound like but I bet they wouldn't be too far off. The point is they get the point across perfectly.
Its always sad when something you loved as a kid is remade or reimagined and it turns out to be garbage. That couldn't be further from the case with this iteration of Jem & The Holograms. The origin story of Jem & The Holograms, Misfits, and Synergy were done impeccably well. The characters all have their own styles, voices, personalities, arcs. The art is turned up to eleven as it should be in all the best ways. The story makes sense, works, flows and is magic just like the music the ladies play. The ending is unpredictable, somewhat upsetting, and yet still satisfying, leaving you wanting more just like a great band should.
Grade: STRONG BUY!!!

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