Up until now, Rio Pacheco has been a somewhat minor character. His budding romance with Jerrica is his main link to the rest of “Jem and the Holograms,” even though we’ve been told he’s a journalist in the music industry. “Jem and the Holograms” #10 gives Kelly Thompson and Corin Howell a chance to shift the spotlight onto Rio, and the end result is surprisingly touching.
“Jem and the Holograms” #10 picks up right where the previous issue left off, with Pizzazz having been in a horrific car accident while Jem and the Holograms are on tap to open for the Misfits on their next tour. Enter Rio, who was the one to find Pizzazz and call an ambulance. As the issue progresses through Rio’s point of view, we get to see not only more about him, but also about the members of both bands.
I love the fact Rio is able to share some of the spotlight in this issue; it would have been easy for Thompson to just focus on Rio and put the events of last month’s cliffhanger on hold. Instead, everything continues to move forward, and we see Rio’s skills as a journalist as well as his own personal integrity. His solution on how to balance the needs of his editor without exploiting Pizzazz’s condition isn’t perfect, but it works well enough to please everyone and that’s one of the stand-out moments in the issue. Thompson makes Rio good, but he’s not able to achieve a perfect result in a situation where perfect simply isn’t possible.
It’s also fun to see Rio interact with Jetta and Roxy, the two members of the Misfits who — up until now — have been little more than faces. We get to see a little bit of their personal lives and their humor, and I like that they’re smarter than you might have initially thought, as they’re careful to protect themselves from Pizzazz’s wrath. I liked Rio’s interactions with the Holograms for the same reason; it would have been easy for him to use them without asking as part of his solution, but it’s nice to see him explain what’s going on and what he’s trying to accomplish. (On the same level, I appreciate that the band had to stop and talk before agreeing to his idea, rather than simply jumping in with an immediate yes.)
Howell’s guest art is in the same basic style as main artist Sophie Campbell (who’s on tap to return next issue), but without mimicking or copying; for instance, take the thick locks of hair on Stormer’s head and how she has a rounded and full face without looking exaggerated or anything less than great. The moments where Rio first finds where Roxy lives really stand out, though; there’s something about her annoyance and disdain when she’s leaning on the door frame that is just so perfect it utterly sells the scene. M. Victoria Robado’s decision to mute the colors on those pages into just a few shades is also smart; it instantly identifies the flashbacks as such, even as they still look good.
“Jem and the Holograms” #10 is another victory for a series that is far more enjoyable than one might have ever thought. Thompson and Howell work well together, and I’d definitely keep Howell on the list of good guest artist options. What could have been a one-off or a diversion is instead a lot of fun and continues to move the book forward as we see the Misfits come together in the face of tragedy. The only thing that’s truly outrageous here is that we have to wait another month until the next issue.