Published on April 29th, 2015 | by Lauren McPhee0
Jem and the Holograms #2 – Review
In last month’s issue, a stage-shy Jerrica appeared to be shown the answer to her performance problems in the form of a holographic generator called Synergy, an ‘audiovisual entertainment synthesiser’; meanwhile, we are aware that it is The Holograms last chance to enter the ‘Misfits vs!’ music video battle competition. And while last issue gave us a really fun and engaging introduction to The Holograms (particularly Kimber), Synergy is still something unexplained; a mysterious gift left by Jerrica’s deceased father, in an underground secret technology cave (seriously, was their dad freaking Iron Man?), with some slightly unnerving and unexplored potential consequences looming. So, on that note, let’s look into Jem And The Holograms #2!
By the way, first of all, if you haven’t seen them, it is very much worth looking into the cover series for these first two issues. Issue 2 features The Misfits and the colours and visuals alone let you know that this band have a unique style and sound that distinguishes them from the Hologram’s music of last issue. While these comics are visual, not auditory (soundtrack, anyone?), Sophie Campbell and M. Victoria Robado on art and colours do an excellent job of expressing the various feels of the music, absorbed into the images of the comics. Sound is not an overlay to this comic, it is part of the very fabric and structure. And compared to the soft pastels in pink and blue on white from the Holograms set last issue, Jem And The Holograms #2 opens with the load, sour-edged colours of green and purple for The Misfits.
It’s a powerful performance that has the video music quality of the songs on the show; I will, however, address the songwriting which for all its visual, brash melody, is lyrically anti-climactic and clichéd. Honestly, I think the art could have sold the music on its own without the need for lyrics, which in The Holograms music is also a bit distracting and off-putting. Since you are dealing with two bands here, like in the show, the publishers could have put a little effort into creating music for the comic book, which despite the added expense, would have been a unique and interesting selling point if you could download a song along with your purchase of the book. I think it could have created a really interesting sing-a-long experience. Of course, I understand why they didn’t do it – just missed opportunity, something to think about, and all that.
One thing I will commend, though, is the integration of social media and new media into the comic frames. As if we are looking at a television (Youtube?) screen, Lind-Z (Lindsey Pierce!) interviews a seemingly overconfident Pizzazz about the live Band Battle to decide the winner of the ‘Misfits vs!’ competition next month, while tweets from fans and critics scroll across the bottom of the screen by way of an interesting metacommentary (Stormer is the real Misfits talent!). However, even before the broadcast ends, the tension between Lind-Z and Pizzazz is obvious. But that’s all part and parcel of the performative side of the industry: luckily, we have access to a backstage pass.
Meanwhile, the dynamic between The Misfits is a very different situation than amongst The Holograms. The panels are crowded as the girls talk over each other and interestingly, Stormer stands out as much as she blends in; overlooked, and crowded over by her bandmates more antagonistic personalities, she is nonetheless the standout character in the band so far. It is impossible to ignore the striking blue of her hair amongst all the black, white and green. Of course, it’s Stormer who discovers The Holograms recently uploaded music video.
It’s a fantastic science fiction and fantasy mashup, with 1980s retro allusions to the likes of She-Ra, Sky-Dancers and My Little Pony. It reminds me, as well, of the 1980s Sword of Sorcery, recently redone by Jem creator Christy Marx. Altogether, a beautiful modern uptake of 1980s nostalgia with a technological, modern twist as it is obvious to readers that Synergy had a lot to do with the production of this video. Pizzazz feels, understandably, threatened and thus is born the rivalry that was at the heart of the tv series. It doesn’t take much for someone as obviously talented and egotistical as Pizzazz to recognise when she can be outdone.
Other things worth mentioning: Rio appears! Kimber is adorable in the morning (late morning, afternoon?). Aja is my flatmate from university who would throw shoes at me whenever I bothered her. Also, I guess the Starlight Community Center is replacing the Starlight House for Foster Girls. Ba Nee! Ashley! Jerrica’s ‘Leslie Knope’ face! Kimber fangirling…and flirting! And that’s it for issue 2: a great paced, catchy look at nostalgia in a modern age, filled with dynamic and interesting characters and art engaged with the mediums of comics, television, music videos and the internet. @TRUTHBOMBSYO: Jem and the Holograms is gorgeous and funny and entirely relevant to today. You should be reading it.