Sadly, Jem and the Holograms cover and interior artist plus co-plotter and character and costume designer Sophie Campbell isn’t the artist on Jem #7. She is replaced by British artist Emma Vieceli, best known for comics adaptations of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing, who replaces Campbell’s curves with the straight lines of manga. The result isn’t horrible, but it does take some getting used to as the story (and Pizzazz’s gross and hilarious facial expressions) picks up down the stretch with the introduction of the Misfits’ new manager, who resembles a villain from the Phoenix Wright games and will be a truly chilling foe for the Holograms in this arc.
What is most enjoyable in Jem and the Holograms #7 is how comfortable writer Kelly Thompson is spending large blocks of times with Shana and Aja, who got less panel time than Jerrica and Kimber in the opening arc even if Aja had some scene-stealing one-liners and made a great band peacekeeper. However, in this issue, she makes a conscious effort to make them lead characters as the issue opens with some great banter between Shana and Aja as Jerrica struggles with the tasks of being the manager and frontwoman for an up and coming band. They also get a page or two away from the band towards the end of the issue involving Shana’s interest in fashion and Aja’s obviously handsome boyfriend as they ride bikes on the dunes far away from the band drama. If anything, Vieceli draws attractive men with well-defined jaw-lines and lean features.
Jem and the Holograms #7 starts to give Shana and Aja little character arcs, starts to create internal tension through Jerrica being realistically overwhelmed by their up and coming fame, and external tension through the Misfits’ new manager and his super secret sexy assistant. However, Viecelli’s art lacks the energy and naked emotion of Sophie Campbell’s art even if it retains the characters’ diverse body shapes and has a cotton candy cyberpunk moment featuring Synergy with the help of colorist M. Victoria Rosado’s pastel palette, which gives the comic some visual consistency between Campbell and Viecelli.
For example, Thompson writes a touching moment between Kimber, who won’t answer Stormer’s texts because she thinks she was part of the Misfits’ plan to stop the Holograms and hurt her sisters, and Synergy, who Kimber thinks looks a lot like her mom. Viecelli wastes some opportunity for sparks of feelings by keeping Kimber in long profile instead of panning in close like she does in the last panel where Kimber feels overwhelmed by her romantic woes, the band drama etc. Some of the weakness in expression carries over to the Misfits’ where the band has blank, resigned faces, but Viecelli draws a damn good Pizzazz continuing to make her a fan favorite with her mix of glib and melodramatic facial expressions. Her loud, diva attitude sets her up as an excellent foil for the quiet, spotlight-shy Jerrica, and Rosado shows this by puking the rainbow on Pizzazz outfit’s while keeping the soft pinks for Jerrica.
There is a slight decline in the art in Jem and the Holograms #7, but the issue isn’t a complete wash as writer Kelly Thompson and artist Emma Viecelli gives Shana and Aja some much needed time in the spotlight and crafts a compelling villain for the second arc of this fun comics series.