Published on February 10th, 2016 | by Lauren McPhee0
Jem and the Holograms Valentines Special – review
As the Dark Jem storyline gets started, we are treated to this Jem Valentines Special which, in the same vein as the Holiday Special, tells a cute and off the cuff side-story – this time of hijinks under the influence of a love spell! Kimber, after visiting a fortune teller, receives a potion that will help soften Pizzazz’s resentments, but unfortunately she doesn’t wait around long enough to hear the product warnings, which state that more than three drops and the relaxing potion turns into a love potion! Rushing off to a meeting between the Misfits and the Holograms regarding their upcoming tour, Kimber spikes the water jug but, to her shock, everyone demands a glass. Everyone drinks the potion, Kimber included, and is doomed to fall in love with the first person or thing they see. Only Jerrica and Rio are immune and able to protect the others, and the poor bystanders who get caught in cupid’s crossfire!
Now, first off, I think it’s important to recognise that there are certain problems inherent in stories about love potions: the most problematic involves the removal of consent from both the affected person and the object of their newfound desire. This can usually be dealt with by having the love potion amplify feelings that are already present, simply allowing people to know of and act upon their true feelings. That is not the case here. What bothers me about this comic, and thus affected my enjoyment of it, was the non-consensual kissing or attention forced upon the “object” of desire, such as when Kimber kisses Rio, as well as the jealous and violent rivalry in love exhibited by Aja and Jetta. That being acknowledged, there is still a lot to enjoy about this comic.
First off, new artist Jen Bartel and colourist Paul Reinward play very well with the Jem aesthetic. The fortune teller at the beginning of the story is especially cute, and both the Holograms and the Misfits are well represented in the cute, cartoonish style that we’ve come to expect. While the colours lack some of the vibrancy of M. Victoria Robado, Reinwand maintains the colour pallet, if on the slightly darker side. This minor shift, for me, removes this story from the musical into the more every day; although, the magical nature of the story might have warranted a more mystical, dreamy art style to reflect the degree of romantic fantasy this issue contains.
Secondly, there is a great deal of sweetness and humour to be found in this issue. Kimber is adorable, as usual, but her standout moment occurs when she realises she has drunk of the love potion herself. Roxy also rivals Kimber in terms of cuteness this issue; she is, in fact, the Kimber of the Misfits, adorable in equal amounts but in her own way, and that is demonstrated very effectively here. The obsessive desire of the spellbound, for all its problems, is also depicted very innocently and results is a good number of comedic moments.
All in all, this issue holds up pretty well against the high standard that Jem and the Holograms has set for itself. I continue to love Kelly Thompson’s writing even though the device used in this instance was not to my liking, and I think the art could have been more attuned to the story even as it is well suited to the Jem aesthetic. As Valentine’s comics go, it sits alongside BtVS’ Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered in terms of its antics, and falls more into the category of humour than romance. So, pick this comic up if you want to read a cute and funny story about the perils of love potions and the true love of bagels.