I have been a fan of the Jem and the Holograms series since I first saw issue number one’s bright and beautiful cover, and have been getting every cover each month ever since. I missed the whole nostalgia train of being a fan of the show, but I think I’ve been making up for it with a hefty dose of Netflix.
One thing that I believe makes this series so successful is Sophie Campbell’s insane artwork. She is without a doubt one of the greatest comic book artists of this generation, and I believe of all time. Victoria Robado’s color work pairs perfectly, and the two together are an unstoppable outrageous force of talent. However, this particular issue happens to be the second in a five-part miniseries entitled Enter the Stingers, and Sophie Campbell is missing. Instead we get the vastly different style of Meredith McClaren, and I never realized how different this series could be with a different artist. Meredith’s artwork is interesting, but it is far less detailed and the characters tend to bleed together throughout the book. Victoria’s colorwork shoulders a lot of the cleaning up, but even her talented hand cannot work such miracles that will keep the characters different enough. The reader is left confused at who is who, and the dialogue doesn’t even come close to helping separate them. The artwork is too squished, too abstract, and too muddied for a series that has a particular look and flow. It really does take some of the joy and life of what makes Jem and the Holograms such a unique and interesting series.
Now, for the writing. The mini series continues, but I will have to say that this particular issue is written more poorly than others in this series. The dialogue is all over the place, and because of the already distracting art style switch up, the reader’s eyes are left to dart all over the page in order to try to piece together what’s going on. The story is certainly not awful, and the personalities are still defined enough to sort of follow along, but there are an awful lot of words for a small amount of story. In this series, the characters do a good job in expressing their individualism through conversations with each other. But in this book, everyone kind of felt the same, and it was definitely taken down a level. There’s no need for basics when Kelly Thompson is the writer behind the magic. She is such a powerhouse and so good at what she does, and unfortunately that makes it so much more frustrating when she seemingly isn’t at a hundred and ten percent.
This could of course just been “one of those issues” where it’s piecing the story along, and is a bit confusing. But if a first time reader of Jem picked this book up, they’d have no idea what the hell was going on, or who the characters are supposed to be. One thing that stays consistently great are the different covers, which are all executed beautifully.
I do have high hopes for the regular Jem and the Holograms series to pick back up, and so far it seems that this small break isn’t doing anyone any favors.
Story: 2 Stars
Illustrations: 2 Stars
Colos: 5 Stars
Kelly Thompson (w) • Meredith McClaren (a & c)