Jem & The Holograms vol 1: Showtime and vol 2: Viral
by Kelly Thompson
4 out of 5 stars
I'm an 80/90s girl and proud of it. I played with Barbies until I was...way too old lol. Punky Brewster and Cyndi Lauper were my fashion icons. My pink boombox with double tape deck and my Nintendo were my most prized possessions. And yet, I never really watched Jem & The Holograms. I did love the Jem coloring book that my grandparents kept in the "grandkids" room; it was my favorite book to color in with my 64 count Crayola box with sharpener. (Am I the only weirdo who color-coded their crayons? Probably. That's fine though. I could always find Tickle Me Pink and Cerulean when I needed them. :))
When I heard that it was getting a reboot last year in comic book form, I decided to give it a shot. I picked up the first single issue and loved it. When the first volume came out in October, I immediately bought it, along with the single Christmas issue, which was later published in volume two. And I have to say, I was really pleasantly surprised. I think the creators have done a great job of keeping the feel and heart of the original while updating it for this generation. I must note also, I did try to go back and watch the cartoon on Netflix and it was soooo bad and cheesy I just couldn't do it lol. I got through 2-3 episodes and gave up. I still would like to try the new movie too, even though I heard it was awful. :/
If you're not an 80s girl and don't know the original story, here's a brief synopsis: Jerrica Benton and her sister, Kimber, want to start a band with their 2 friends Shana & Aja. There's just one problem: Jerrica, the lead singer, is terrified of performing in front of people. When Jerrica's dad (a music producer) dies suddenly (no mention of a mom), he leaves her with a big secret that can help skyrocket their music career. Thus, Jem & The Holograms are born. The books follow their musical journey and personal lives. Of course, there's a rival band, The Misfits, led by the volatile Pizazz, she of the green spiky hair and bad attitude.
Okay so now you know what it's about, let's talk about some of the characters. There will probably be minor spoilers after this so if you want to read it fresh, stop here!
Jerrica/Jem is actually one of my least favorite characters. She's kind of a Mary Sue, a bit boring and one-dimensional. Kimber, on the other hand, is my definite favorite. She's sassy and fun and optimistic. And she has pink hair and loves My Little Pony. :) Also, she has a thing for Misfit's keytar player, Stormer. It's really nice to see a same-sex relationship be so normal and accepted, just like the other relationships in the books. Namely Rio and Jerrica. I'm not sure if I like Rio or not, even after the 2nd volume. He seems skeezy. Anyway, not only do we have an LGBT relationship, but there's also plenty of race and body diversity throughout. Shana and Stormer are fluffy girls with major style. (I so want Stormer's orange dress!)
As far as the overall story and artwork, volume one is definitely stronger than volume two. Volume two felt like a lot of filler stories and the different art style for each issue was confusing. I absolutely loooooved the Muppet Babies arc though. Such a great throwback! The Christmas issue was also lots of fun. Poor Shana had to go out with a hipster lumberjack lol. Overall, I loved them both though and can't wait to get volume three.