I meant to have this up when the issue came out, so I'm re-posting it now - BC. Today is the release of the second issue of the Jem and the Holograms series from IDW, written by our own Kelly Thompson (co-plotted by Sophie Campbell) and drawn by Campbell and M. Victoria Robado. I thought that Campbell and Robado did an excellent job on the first issue (I reviewed it here), but they took things to a whole other level with this second issue, as Campbell and Robado tackle what is likely the number one most difficult aspect of this comic, namely "How do you translate music to a written work?" Their answer is through a series of carefully orchestrated panels by Campbell that are bursting with vibrant colors by Robado. One of the strongest tools that a comic book artist has is how they lay out a page. How they lay the page out can literally determine how you read it, and here, Campbell's designs take control of your eye and forces you to follow along with the "music." I especially like how Campbell eschews traditional panel arrangements and instead has panels essentially created from the characters themselves, the blended nature of the design also achieves the aforementioned "driving" force. As powerful as a job that Campbell and Robado do on those pages, though, they would only stand out as awesome-looking set pieces if they weren't sandwiched around a compelling story with interesting characters. Luckily, that's just what happened in this issue!
Quickly, here's a sampling of the above mentioned depiction of music by Campbell and Robado.
As noted above, I really love her panel arrangements here.
Three major things happen in Jem and the Holograms #2. The major one is that we are introduced to the awesomeness of the Holograms' chief rivals, the Misfits, and their bratty leader, Pizzazz, but also see their concern when they see the music video for Jem and the Holograms (who are entering into the contest to do a "Battle of the Bands" against the Misfits)...
Secondly, we meet music reporter Rio Pacheco, who wants to take out Jerrica (the brains behind Jem)...
Thirdly, in a brilliant nod to Jem continuity, the nice member of the Misfits, Stormer, strikes up a relationship with Kimber (in the cartoon show, the two of them were friends - here, they're almost assuredly more than just friends)...
The last bit sets up a Romeo and Juliet style deal, which is a great narrative hook to add further depth to the tensions between the two bands.
A good deal of the issue is the Holograms dealing with their newfound fame, and Kelly does a great job showing their distinct ways of responding to this new fame. Kimber is obviously over the moon, but Jerrica knows that there is a downside to so much attention (particularly when their lead singer isn't actually a real person and is instead a hologram) and an inquisitive reporter is not good news for something like that. But Rio is also charming as all get out, so how can Jerrica turn him down?
Campbell's designs for the Misfits are just as amazing as her designs for the Holograms. Everyone stands out so much, it's so nice to see such distinct personality work. That is really the hallmark of this comic, between Kelly's dialogue and Campbell's character work, there is a depth of characterization here you rarely ever get to see in a book with this many characters.
Jem and the Holograms continues to shine. Go pick up a copy! Recommended!