The second issue of Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell's "Jem and the Holograms" is just as "outrageous"-ly good as the first, as the Holograms enjoy the meteoric success of their entry in the "Misfits Vs!" video competition. The issue captures all the thrill and joy of being creative with your friends; the gleeful script and sparkling, stylish artwork draw the reader right in and, though there's drama bubbling under the surface, this issue's mostly a celebration. "Jem and the Holograms" #2 is another great time.
To start, this is just an unbelievably pretty comic. Sophie Campbell's linework, M. Victoria Robado's coloring and Shawn Lee's lettering create such a cohesive, inviting world. In this issue, the team particularly impresses with their visualizations of the Misfits' and the Holograms' performances. Everyone goes for broke in dramatic, hyper-colorful splash pages and spreads that not only convey how live music can take over a room but also the bands' two different musical styles. Whether it's Robado's switch from neon to pastel, Lee's harsh versus loopy fonts or the contrast between Campbell's jagged and dreamy layouts, these pages make it clear what each band stands for. Though Thompson is smart to lay it out in the script, no one needed to tell me that the Holograms were more pop than the Misfits after seeing these pages.
Aside from these showier elements, Campbell's characters are reliably adorable and easy to read. Robado's hyper-bright colors are a perfect complement, just retro and cartoony enough to feel like "Jem" without losing their modern edge. In addition, it's refreshing to see a variety of female body types shown positively. Jem is the kind of book I want to give to all my nieces.
The script is also super fun, and Thompson's starting to differentiate her uniformly kind characters. This is a massive cast to juggle only two issues in, and she manages to give everyone a solid beat and keep them relatively distinctive. In addition, she gets a number of budding plotlines going: Rio's suspicions about Jem/Jerrica, Kimber and Stormer's romance, Pizzazz's anger and jealousy and more. This can't have been an easy issue to pace, but the transitions feel effortless and organic. Thompson does all the necessary work to give the series momentum without making it read like work at all.
In addition, social media -- often showily shoehorned into comics -- is smoothly integrated here, where a live feed of comments runs under a news story or someone locates the band via Twitter. Thompson doesn't call attention to it with anything more than a casual, "I hate Twitter"; rather, she treats it as a natural part of the world. It's a small thing, but it does help the book feel fresh.
My only substantial complaint is that Pizzazz of the Misfits is a shrill one-dimensional villain so far, and it weakens the book. When the reader doesn't see her creativity or her strength, it's difficult to understand how she's held on to any friends or bandmates. Going forward, she's the character who needs the most fleshing out. She can still be formidable and unlikeable when written with a touch more humanity.
The creative team does another stellar job with "Jem and the Holograms" #2. This is shaping up to be one of the brightest, most beautiful books on the shelves, and it's such a treat to read. I'm already smiling thinking about issue #3.
Note: In an attempt for full transparency, Kelly Thompson is a current writer for CBR's "Comics Should Be Good" blog and a former CBR reviewer.