Published on October 15th, 2015 | by Lauren McPhee0
Jem and the Holograms #8 – Review
Jem and the Holograms #7 is out this week and along with the artist swap, with Emma Vieceli taking over from Sophie Campbell last issue, this run is already taking us off in new directions. While the core story is still the Jem/Misfits rivalry and the resulting character relationships, with this issue, we start to explore the more technical side of things, with the upcoming release of the bands new music video produced by Synergy, and Techrat’s increasingly worrying attempts to hack the Synergy computer system.
The issue starts with Viecili’s beautiful depiction of the band’s new music video; it starts with panels resembling screens, which quickly blend into each other, representing the viewers’ emersion into the video experience. Lyrics and music go from bordering the images, like a background soundtrack, to front and center as music and video blend into one seamless image. The sci-fi setting takes on a computer graphic quality, with Jem blasting through planets as a pink, space cadet-fairy to the backing of the futuristic costumed Holograms.
It’s a design I love, frustratingly invaded by lyrics that sound hollow and empty against the vivid, loud quality of the images. This continues to be the only problem I have with the comic, and it could very well be a personal one. I don’t like the imposition of lyrics without music – the music is depicted impressionistically, which I love, but the lyrics feel forced and empty. I’d rather simply imagine the songs rather than half a song, half a bad, teenage poem that puts too much stock in a rhyming dictionary.
Anyway, that issue aside, Vieceli continues to impress as the Holograms react to watching themselves on screen, with expressions that capture the nature of each character, including Synergy’s quiet reticence. Which is important, because in this scene, Kimber is cautioned about the possibility of other’s finding out about Synergy’s capabilities and wanting to employ them in dangerous ways. This is an issue that was touched on in the television series but never saw fruition, so I’m glad it’s being addressed this early on.
I, for one, find Synergy and the possibilities of her A.I. technology endlessly fascinating and filled with compelling story potential. She has the capability of being the series most powerful enemy or threat, and yet, the Holograms trust her instinctively. Similarly, if Techrat is able to penetrate her systems, everyone would be in some serious trouble. Those of us who have watched enough science fiction know what can happen when an A.I is corrupted, or goes rogue.
It is this understanding of the potential of so much of the Jem concept that makes Kelly Thompson so fitted to writing this book. As the story progresses, the writing or plot development never feels heavy or overdone, and yet there is always something going on, even in the most innocuous of moments. Pizzazz and Stormer’s confrontation over the composition of a new song not only touches on Stormer’s concerns about her relationship with Kimber, her insecurity in opposition to Pizzazz’s domineering personality, but also the fragile nature of the Misfits’ band dynamic. M Victoria Robado’s colours further emphases these tensions in contrasting greens, pinks and purples and what often feels like an invasive degree of white, aided by Jetta and Roxy’s uncomfortable presence stuck in the middle of the situation.
Overall, Vieceli doesn’t quite bring the fashion flair that Campbell provides, but she understands the characters to an impressive degree, and works remarkably well at portraying their moods and situations. Thompson, meanwhile, keeps up a steady story-telling pace, with humour and seriousness and plot development all subtly worked in, while Robado’s colours remain bold, bright, and influential in their own way. More memorable than last month, this issue really captured my attention and has me excited about what this run is going to bring.