Published on May 21st, 2015 | by Lauren McPhee0
Jem and the Holograms #3 Review
In the wake of the Jem movie trailer, we get Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell’s Jem and the Holograms #3 from IDW Publishing. After proving with their first two issues that this dedicated team not only understands but can also evolve the characters, themes and style of the original series, this third issue brings us right to the heart of what this series is and what Jem has always been about: relationships, romantic, rival and familial.
Following on from last issue, the book starts off with The Misfits crashing Stormer and Kimber’s coffee “date” and massively overreacting to the possibility of friendship, not really between band members, but between the bands themselves. Pizzazz makes a show of herself, and we can already say, as usual, while a couple of fans and bystanders find themselves victims of the chaos. I think it’s important to show the disregard Pizzazz, and to a slightly lesser extent, Roxy and Jetta, show their fans, as well as their feelings of privilege and entitlement that has always been a part of Jem’s comment on celebrity culture. It’ll be interesting to see how this holds up in a world dominated by social media, as Pizzazz’s outburst is caught on camera. Celebrities facing the consequences of their actions is one thing that the original series never fully addressed, but which is integral to the world of celebrity today.
The bullying of Stormer is also something that the show never seemed to justify. After treating her badly, The Misfits would give a half-hearted apology and Stormer would forgive them, only to come under fire again the next episode. Here we see Stormer being blamed for the band’s bad publicity and called traitor for associating with the enemy while Pizzazz goes on a selfish, irrational tirade against her. While not engaging Pizzazz on her level of insults and aggression, this Stormer does defend herself and her frustration is evident. You get the sense that this treatment too, by Pizzazz, will have consequences beyond an issue of The Bands Break Up.
Meanwhile, Jerrica goes on her date with Rio and it is sweet and filled with self-aware clichés. So far, this is the least entertaining scene in the comics for me, simply because it is so standard compared to everything else. There’s not really anything original to it. You do, however, gain better insight into Jerrica’s character beyond her performance insecurities and she is impressively composed while on her date; there was a worry, for me, that Jerrica would be reduced to her insecurities when she is known to be so capable. In contrast, Kimber’s discussion with Aja regarding her Stormer-crush, even though it takes place at home in pyjamas, is written and drawn to better effect. These two scenes, playing off one another, highlight the relationships in this comic shown in contrast to Pizzazz’s own rivalry with the Jem she hasn’t even met yet.
So much of this comic is about insecurity and fear of failure: the uncertainty of a new romantic relationship, the uncertainty of your own potential, and the fear that someone else’s talents will over-ride your own. Pizzazz cannot handle the fact that there might be a band out that to rival hers, or a star-persona to rival her own, and she takes her fears out on the people around her. The depiction of her anger is loud and frightening, infecting her bandmates and setting them against each other. Meanwhile, it is the appearance of Clash – a Pizzazz wannabe – who turns Pizzazz’s frustrations into actions with her plans to sabotage The Holograms benefit concert. In contrast, Pizzazz’s undirected emotions are wild, destructive and even pitiful.
The reason this comic works so well is that Thompson, Campbell and Co are able to capture what is turning into an emotional roller-coaster; although this issue takes a detour from the action of storytelling to a focus on relationships, it sets up perfectly all the issues and motivations at the root of many of these characters. One of the reasons that the original series is so powerful, I think, is that Christy Marx created characters with in-depth and relatable identities and motivations; this comic shows a commitment to that heritage, shown brilliantly in this issue through the story, art and incredible character and fashion designs. Seriously, I could talk endlessly on the continually changing clothing and hairstyles. But that would be an article all of its own. A topic for next month! In the meantime, enjoy the first three issues of an already exciting and engaging arch of this new series and look forward to the chaos to come in the upcoming months.