“Jem and the Holograms” #5 brings its opening story arc “Showtime” near its conclusion, but don’t think that means there isn’t already drama going on here. Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell reveal truths, place relationships on rocky ground and even throw some pies for good measure.
One of the things I like the most about the writing of “Jem and the Holograms” #5 and the series as a whole is that Thompson never loses sight of all the story elements in each issue. It would be easy to place some characters and ideas on hold but, instead, Thompson juggles them all while making it look easy. Kimber and Stormer’s on-and-off relationship takes huge steps forward, even as we don’t lose sight of Rio and Jerrica or a little moment with Aja meeting someone at a carnival. Of course, as the VS musical battle continues to loom overhead, Pizzazz is angrier than ever and Clash’s scheme unravels at the worst possible moment.
Sound like a lot? While it is, Thompson never overwhelms the reader or clutters the story. Plot points segue into each other, and there’s such a streamlined and smooth process that it’s uncanny. Best of all, “Jem and the Holograms” was a show that I was slightly too old to watch the first time around, but I’ve found myself genuinely caring about the entire cast of characters in the comic. With no past affection for them, that’s no small feat.
Campbell’s art is excellent as ever. Every character has their own unique look, and I like that — while they’re somewhat based on the original designs — they’re still updated and modern. Effects like Jem transforming back to Jerrica look visually interesting, and the crashing down of the scaffolding around Jem and Aja is suitably dramatic and dangerous. Here’s the best thing about Campbell’s art, though: she doesn’t lose sight of the smaller details. Look at the head icon of Blaze on the first “Guest List” introductory pages, then look at Blaze when she’s in her work attire. It may sound silly, but I love that Campbell thought it through and adjusted Blaze’s hair so that it’s pulled back to look professional. It’s her attention to this sort of thing that makes the art that much better and impressive.
Do you know what’s truly, truly outrageous? There are people who still haven’t picked up “Jem and the Holograms” to try for themselves. This comic is just fun from start to finish, full stop. Thompson and Campbell should be proud of this new 21st century take on “Jem and the Holograms” because it’s sharp, smart and grabs your attention from start to finish. Five tracks in, and it’s still a winner.
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.