Book Review: Jem and the Holograms, Issue 1 and Free Comic Book Day
2015 looks like it’s going to be a truly outrageous year for Jem and the Holograms. Celebrating 30 years, the doll line turned cartoon is far from forgotten. In March, the first issue of the new Jem and the Holograms comic made its debut. Published by IDW Publishing, this series is written by Kelly Thompson and drawn by Sophie Campbell (formally Ross Campbell). So far, the releases have received multiple limited edition variant covers created by popular artists Sarah Richard and Amy Mebberson.
Now, I’m the first person to call myself a single issue comic book ‘newb’. I haven’t gone searching for a single issue comic book for years, to tell you the truth. I prefer to read my comics in bound, multi-issue bindings. But this is Jem and the Holograms! There was no way I would miss getting my hands on this potentially outrageous comic.
Of the many cover variants offered on this first issue, I ended up picking up the Sara Richard Subscription cover (and a Jem postcard) at C2E2 this past weekend. Truthfully, it was my favorite of the different covers. I love Amy Mebberson’s work, but I adore the realistic portrayal of Jem on Sara’s cover. It reminds me of the box art on the Jem dolls.
How does one go about reviewing a comic book? For simplicities sake, I’ll split this review into two categories: story and art. This is not a retelling of the original cartoon. Don’t expect a young adult to be put in charge of a major music corporation or to be running a home full of foster kids. (Though I am not saying that can’t happen– who knows!) While the creators took care in making the foundation similar to the original cartoon, it isn’t a carbon copy. The story begins with our hero, Jerrica Benton, suffering from some super serious stage fright. Unable to sing in front of large crowds, she’s putting her band and her sister Kimber’s dream of winning the Misfits VS competition in jeopardy.
Jerrica freaks out and runs back home where she finds the holographic earrings. That’s when the story really picks up. Being only a single issue, 20 page comic, the ending of this comic feels a lot like the ending of the cliffhangers in the first few Jem episodes.
I think they did a great job of adapting the material. They kept elements that were necessary, like Jerrica and Kimber losing their parents, and tweaked the stuff that didn’t make as much sense in today’s world, like a young adult who has very little life experience being given permission to care for a large group of foster girls. (Again, though, having only read the first issue, this could totally be part of the story. We’ll have to wait and see.)
Art can make or break a comic, especially for me. (I can’t help it, I’m a bit picky about style when it comes to comics.) However, I’m happy to say that the art style used in this comic wasn’t a deal breaker! The colors are spot on and the characters have a cool, stylish look to them. Jem, Jerrica and the Holograms sport the same unique hair colors that made them stand out in the cartoon, but don’t all have thin, super model type bodies.
The character design is more cartoon’y than realistic. The art isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, I’m fine with it. The best thing about the character design so far? Their hair. I love all four (five, counting Jem) of the main girls hair styles. As far as reading and dialogue flow, the thought bubbles didn’t seem intrusive at all and they were easy to read in sequence, which is another bonus in my book.
Overall, I’m liking this series so far. It has a ways to go and no doubt it will be a struggle for me to remember to pick up my copy every month, but so far, so good! Kelly and Ross did a great job at keeping Jem and the Holograms both classic and modern. Currently, Samantha Newark, speaking voice of Jem, is offering signed comics via her website. (I would order issue two, signed by Samantha, Sara and Patricia Alice Albrect, speaking voice of head Misfit Pizzazz. Plus, it comes with a 11×17 poster!)
And with that, I’d like to remind you that today (5/2/2015) is Free Comic Book Day! Here’s Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker to those who aren’t in the know) to talk a bit about the day. (The Star Wars fan in me is so excited to say that I have now had Mark Hamill on my blog, even if it wasn’t shot just for me and multiple people can share it.)
You can find the day’s origin story here. Gold Sponsors for the event (which means there’s a good chance they’ll have a comic or two lying around) are: Viz Media, Archie Comics, Bongo Comics, Boom Comics, DC entertainment, Dark Horse Comics, DE, IDW (publishers of Jem), Image, Marvel, Titan Comics and United Plankton Pictures.
Contact your local comic book shop, library or bookstore to see what they’re doing to celebrate Free Comic Book Day. And don’t forget to unleash your inner cosplayer and go to the events in character! (If I weren’t busy, I would totally be going as Daria, my cosplay for the season.) To learn more about Free Comic Book Day, visit their website.
Now, back to Jem. Have you read the Jem and the Holograms comic yet? What did you think of it? And a question for comic book readers, can one subscribe to a comic, like a magazine? Educate me. I would so prefer that to having to hope the comic shop gets it each month. Share your thoughts below.