Jem and The Holograms was a Big Deal cartoon back in the 80s. Whilst I missed the boat on it when it originally aired (due to having only recently been born when Jem debuted in October 1985!), I vividly remember watching reruns and being mesmerised by the swooshy 80s hair, the catchy tunes and the brightly coloured pop-star beauties wandering around on my screen. As a young girl, it was fantastic to see a show with a mostly female cast, and even though they didn’t fight monsters and bad guys in the same sense as other, male cartoon characters did, I still felt it was a very positive show. These women were loyal to one another, cared about people, fought for what they believed in and were downright talented. The word feminist is often used as a derogatory term nowadays, but I’m not ashamed to say that I believe in equality for women, and that we as a gender deserve better representation in all forms of media. These two things (my prior enjoyment of Jem and my belief that women are just as awesome and interesting as men, thank you very much) made me very, very excited when IDW announced that they’d be doing a Jem and The Holograms book.
I am incredibly happy to report that, after having read the first two issues, I was not disappointed. In fact, it surpassed all the expectations I had of it. It’s very clear from these first two issues that the creative team behind it have a true understanding of, and love for, the source material. Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell have produced a book that oozes style, personality and heart, and that was exactly what I wanted from a Jem reboot. Campbell’s utterly stunning redesigns of the characters are absolutely perfect, complimented wonderfully by M. Victoria Robado’s delightful colouring, and I couldn’t love them any more than I do. Whilst I appreciate that there are more and more female-led comics hitting the stands each week, as a woman of the curvaceous variety, it’s extremely empowering to see women with actual human body shapes appearing in this comic. I understand that characters that fight a lot (Wonder Woman, Black Canary, Captain Marvel etc) need to be in good shape and will therefore have slender, more athletic body types, and that’s absolutely fine. What’s not fine is that in mainstream comics, most every other woman looks like that, too. Now, I’m not saying that all non-active female characters ought to be big wobbly messes, but a more accurate representation of the variety of female body shapes that exist would be lovely. Jem delivers this in spades; Shana has a lovely hourglass figure, Aja has thighs that would make Beyoncé jealous, Kimber has modest breasts. None of them are the typical, comic book style shape, but all of them look wonderful. Even Jem, the fabricated holographic persona Jerrica creates for herself to avoid getting stage fright, is crazy tall but has average breasts and a fairly thick waist. As a child (and a teen, and an adult) I have been bullied for my size and shape, and I could go off on the importance of this book’s character design for hours, but suffice to say that if I ever have the pleasure of meeting Sophie, she will be getting the biggest, teariest hug from me.
That’s not to say that the writing isn’t worth note either; Thompson has done a cracking job creating well-rounded, interesting characters, and ensuring that the book is close enough to the source material to placate us rabid fans, whilst also brining it into a more contemporary setting. All of this is done without alienating its potential new audience, which is a real achievement. I particularly enjoy the conversational way in which the characters interact; it feels very modern and real, like you’ve just stumbled into a bunch of friends having a chat. The introduction of The Misfits in issue two was wonderful; the way the music was depicted on the page was just lovely. There’s an energy to the layout, Shawn Lee’s lettering and Robado’s colouring that just screams live music and was a real pleasure to behold.
I honestly could go on about my love for this book all day, and so I shall attempt to sum up here; it’s colourful, fun, touching, exciting, and sweet. It’s just fabulous and you should be reading it.
Title: Jem and The Holograms #1 & #2
Reviewer: Stacey Taylor (@StacebobT)