Today should be the release date for Jem and the Holograms movie, at least here in the U.K, a movie that dared to look at both Transformers and G.I Joe and say those are far too faithful. By all accounts it has not gone well, hence why I said should. Now I am not a Jem and the Holograms fan, I have never before seen Jem nor her Holograms, nor read or listened to them. The closest I have ever come is a Geek History Lesson podcast. For I am a man and thus don’t like anything without explosions nor if the number of girls outweighs the number of dudes other wise I might catch Cooties, or even worse “the gay”! But I’m running out of Christmas themed comics so I shall be looking at the first storyline from IDW’s Jem and the Holograms run ‘Showtime’. This is……………………………………………………………
We open on some kind of weird pop, hair metal band jamming in some weird trippy dream sequence. Well most of them are anyway, while the rest seem to have epic levels of concentration on their face their lead looks like some kind of weird anti-Holger Fath.
Eventually her negativity brings the jam session to a crashing halt and so while the taco party try and establish their personalities for the comic reading audience Jerrica, the miserable un-outrageous one decides to bring some pathetic fallacy to the book by standing out in the rain like an unwanted cake.
She then races home in her ‘Blue Beetle’ to go and cry in her own personal recording studio. As the rain comes down her tears however manage to summon the ghost of her fathers assistant ‘Synergy’ who reveals that her Dad left her a brithday present and also may have been Iron Man. Soon joined by the rest of her sisters Jerrica reveals that her father had mastered Hard Light technology and through a pair of tacky earrings Jerrica is now able to create duplicates and change the appearance of herself and those around her. Still she really wanted a pony so it’s not that great a pressie.
Now seen as how she is able to create programmed duplicates of herself you’d think this would the cure for her crippling shyness, just record the performance at home and set up an emitter on stage but instead she will use this technology to undergo a magical girl transformation to just perform under an assumed name, I think that’s what happened to David Bowie you know, for as any great eighties rock legend can tell you, shyness can be overcome with tons of makeup and hair dye.
Anyway once that is figured out the girls realise they now have a chance of getting into the youtube competition of going against punk-pop band the misfits. Who are completely different from the Holograms because their lyrics sound like Linkin Park rejects. Speaking of music, of course this is a problem for a comic to handle and I think they do a decent enough job, though I am expecting a tie in album at some point. I mean come on, if Gwen Stacy can inspire her own cover band then surely IDW can pull something together. Until then however we’re going to have make do with what we get and what we get is decent enough. The music is drawn to reflect the band in shape and colour telling you who is singing and both bands are established well enough that you can have a decent enough mental attempt at figuring out how it sounds in your mind. The songs themselves are plentiful enough with them coming as and when the plot demands but also during what would be the mid break montage/ chase sequence during any typical sixties to eighties television show.
The only other real cast member to mention is Rio, the token dude, who is currently trying to write a piece on the misfits and their hair brained competition but like the rest of the world seems transfixed by newcomers ‘Jem and the Holograms’ to the point where he regularly ditches work to head over and meet them. Typical guy.
Now the comic is based on a kids cartoon and what I liked about it, but may turn some off, is that this is not some grown up, dark and gritty take on it. This is still a kids property. Everyone is colour coded for our convineance though despite that they are all able to strike a different silhouette through body type and hairstyle that is easy to tell them apart. The personalities seem to be heading that way though I would argue only Jerrica and her red headed sister Kimber get any real attention, out of the holograms, in this storyline with Aja also getting a line or two to let us know she is the “techy” one. With Jerrica it makes sense what with her, twist shock reveal being Jem, getting the spot light and Kimbers storyline is nice to get in early as well. They seem to be setting her up in some kind of Romeo and Juliet situation with Stormer of the misfits. Well Romeo and Juliet in that the Misfits don’t want anyone sleeping with the enemy while the Holograms just want her to be happy so not that like Romeo and Juliet I guess. Though she is fulfilling the Romeo/teen slut role with an apparent background of finding her true love every other week. Even so the growing relationship was sweet enough that despite the constant put downs from those around her I found myself invested and hoping for the best between the two and I get the feeling that they will realise this has far more legs in keeping these two together than having Kimber find a new squeeze next week. Though now that it is established it won’t be a curve ball in ten issues when the two hook up and also can be safely moved to the back burner to allow other members of the band to get some attention.
In fact despite the lack of action I was kind of invested in each of them with a few nice twists to keep things light and yet fresh. Rio has gone from being torn between Jerrica and Jem in the old cartoon to not thinking too highly of the mysterious aloof Jem at all, often calling her out to Jerrica which makes a nice change of pace. It would be like Lois snuggling up to the cute, kind hearted new guy; Clark Kent, while asking “who does Superman think he is?”
The design work is, as I have said already, decent with everyone looking different and yet still looking hot and unique. They also all look like they have raided the nearest hot topic but I will let them off on that seen as I have no fashion sense and they are all part of an eighties hair metal pop rock band. The only one who bothered me a little was Rio who needs a hair cut before I will take him seriously.
As I said this is a fairly light hearted kids comic so don’t expect any shoot outs and explosions, in fact the closest we get to an actual fight between the two is a food fight around about the half way mark. Meaning this may be a bit too “cute” for some. The My Little Pony’s popping up all over the place seem to be there to keep them in line and stop things getting too dramatic or testosterone filled. It can also feel a little to first world problems for people like me coming of super hero books where villains are beaten and worlds saved as we here watch people count hits on youtube. The other thing is that its quite a slow comic, not dragging but I can’t help but feel that if this story was adapted into a movie or even an episode of a series it would only be the first act, of either. By the end we still haven’t even had our showdown between the two bands yet. In fact all we get is the first major show from the Holograms with a light show and holographic dinosaur “that still looks fake.”
If you don’t like sweet then this comic probably isn’t for you. If you are after something sweet however that isn’t going to become bogged down in heavy handed drama and symbolism, that won’t labour you with a mega cross over event every summer then this may just be the comic for you. The first trade has dropped and they’re wrapping up the second storyline now so you might want to pull your finger out and hop aboard this magical, musical, outrageous mystery tour now before you get left behind.