The third installment of "Showtime" in "Jem and the Holograms" #3 takes the spotlight off the stage and gives writer Kelly Thompson and artist Sophie Campbell a chance to focus on character relationships and developments. The Misfits are still steaming mad at the Holograms and they're looking to take the spotlight back.
The character developments follow the cracks starting to form in the Misfits, largely driven by Pizzazz's finger-pointing and griping. Clash, holding onto her hopes of being more like Pizzazz, sets a plot in motion that doesn't pay out in this issue but is certain to send waves throughout the series in future installments. Thompson and Campbell have crafted the bands into cliques, and the duo pours a bit of bully into Pizzazz. The Holograms are content going about their business, but Thompson and Campbell make it quite clear things are nowhere near as harmonious with the Misfits.
Campbell's choice to stick with a standard grid for the layouts keeps the story clicking and gives "Jem and the Holograms" #3 a retro-appearance that reads cleanly. Favoring horizontal panel orientation, Campbell's pages have moments where they feel like comic strips, cut from a newspaper and pasted into a home-made collection, filled with passion from the collector. Her work with the art brings the reader in close for emotions and reactions and, when the angst-filled panels ditch right angles and drop in diagonals, the story shift and pacing is immediately visible, completely independent of the snappy lettering from Shawn Lee. Like Campbell's layout choices, Lee uses some smart choices in the inflections for surprise and exasperation throughout the book, shaking up the dialogue within word balloons to punch up the effect.
M. Victoria Robado works in concert with Campbell, making the characters in "Jem and the Holograms" #3 as bold and vibrant as possible. Effects are cast into the girls' hair, makeup is directly applied without drawn-on borders and, frequently, the backgrounds drop out completely, punching up the energy of the shots and the intensity of the characters and their moments.
"Jem and the Holograms" #3 doesn't have any Jem moments, as Jerrica goes on a date with Rio and her sisters have developments in their own lives, but Thompson and Campbell have installed soap opera drama in this title, which makes for an issue filled with character moments just as compelling as anything that could be written as action sequences. "Jem and the Holograms" #3 is not without its dramatic moments, however, as it sets up character beats and strings out some subplots to come. It also includes a cameo from Rainbow Dash before the end of the issue, providing a nice little wink and nod for readers who follow more than just this title from IDW Publishing.
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.