Comic Book Review: Jem and the Holograms #5


jem #5The first arc of IDW’s modern take reboot of classic 80’s cartoon Jem and the Holograms is almost finished, with one more issue to go. Things are heating up for Jerrica and her sisters, Kimber, Aja, and Shana, as their fame begins to rise. Also rising is Misfits leader Pizzazz’s blood pressure as the lead singer continues to rage against The Holograms rising star.

Last issue, readers were left with wondering the fate of Jem and her fellow Holograms as Clash purposely sabotaged their set during their first live gig. Picking up right where issue 4 left off, we see Aja shove Jem out-of-the-way at the cost of her own safety resulting in some minor injuries and an overnight stay at the hospital. Contrary to Clash’s hopes however, the sabotaged backfires, and The Holograms only gain more fame from the unfortunate incident.

With The Holograms name on everyone’s lips, and their music in everyone’s ears, Misfit leader Pizzazz begins taking her frustrations out on her band, her crew, and her instruments. Meanwhile Kimber and Stormer continue their star-crossed romance unbeknownst to their fellow bandmembers. Jerrica’s own relationship with Rio continues to heat up, while Rio’s feelings towards Jem begin to thoroughly cool. The destined day has arrived as The Holograms prepare for their official face off with The Misfits at the Misfits Vs! band competition. During which The Holograms run into The Misfits and the meeting quickly turns sticky and that’s where Jem and the Holograms #5 leaves off. With a prequel battle to the actual musical battle that will undoubtedly go down in issue six.

Lets talk colors, because while Sophie Campbell’s line work is something to be praised, M. Victoria Robado’s coloring is what helps make the book pop. Robado’s colors help thoroughly enhance Campbell’s already brilliant lines, by taking the over-the-top 80s glam rock look of the original Jem cartoon and making it work. Campbell is able to create distinct characters that jump off the page with their originality. Not one of the Jem characters look-alike. From their hair, to their clothes, to even their noses, each character has very distinct features. Those features, in turn, are then amplified by Robado’s in-your-face coloring.

At times the coloring can be a bit jarring to the eyes, especially when Pizzazz is leading focus since her facial expressions call for extreme color tones and style. For the most part, however, the two come together seamlessly creating one of the most unique looking books on the market currently. If there was a quibble to be had, it would be the lack of backgrounds, the absence of color can and has helped enhance some scenes in previous issues, but it’s becoming a notable problem with the story moves forward and readers can’t tell where the characters are or that they’ve even moved. It becomes less a technique in enhancing the colors, and more of an absence of space and time within the story. Hopefully we see this quibble improve in coming issues.

Kelly Thompson’s story is beginning to pick up pace, though the plot still stands on weak legs. There isn’t much narrative tension, since readers have no real reason to sympathize or root for The Misfits. Pizzazz is a rather one-note antagonist; a high-strung diva unable to control her violent outbursts of anger. Given that Jem and the Holograms aren’t that famous yet, Pizzazz’s paranoia and outright rage against them seems over the top and moderately out-of-place within the rest of the issue.

That being said, Thompson shows off her skills with how she continues to strengthen and develop the relationships within the Holograms key cast. It was a nice treat to see Rio and Aja talk after her accident, even if the moment was small and short. It brings Rio out of just Jerrica’s circle of influence, presenting a better established singular character, over just a love interest. It was also nice to see more of Aja and Shana in this issue, though they’re still taking a backseat to both Kimber and Jerrica.

It’s nice to see two non-stereotypical presentations of women of color, but it means little if they’re not given more individual focus. Hopefully we see more of both Aja and Shana in coming issues, and see them fleshed out more outside of Jerrica’s praises of them.

Jerrica and Rio’s relationship has an interesting development in this issue, as Rio’s feelings towards Jem begin to affect his relationship with Jerrica. Except not in the way you would think, nor in the way seen in the original cartoon show. Instead of beginning to develop a crush on Jem, Rio begins to resent her seemingly diva attitude and apparent unwillingness to help and support her bandmates. The subversion of the secret identity trope is nicely used here as Jerrica feels the need to defend, well, herself from her own boyfriend. Who’s really just looking out for her and her sisters because he cares.

Overall, it’s a solid issue, of a solid comic, with bright, bold artwork that makes it well worth the buy. Next issue is the last issue of this particular arc, as Jem and the Holograms finally face The Misfits head on in what is sure to be a colorful climax.

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Bottom Line

"Jem and the Holograms #5 continues it's beautifully colorful palette of artwork, but lacks an interesting antagonist in Pizzazz which causes the tension building up to it's final issue to falter."

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