Jem and the Holograms #10
Written by Kelly Thompson
Art by Corin Howell
Colors by M. Victoria Robado
Letters by Shawn Lee
Edits by John Barber
Published by IDW on December 30, 2015
Jen Bartel’s cover: Jerrica with Rio, but behind her in the reflective glass is Jem looking back at her. That’s what this issue is about: reflection. Introduced on the cover, the theme continues throughout: what something appears to be and what the reality is beneath the surface. Duality of character. It is ironic, then, that the issue leaves the obvious example–Jem and Jerrica–in the background.
This blindspot comes from a change in narrator. This is Rio’s story, and his reporter skills of observation appear to stop short of seeing the subterfuge behind Jem. What we do get are his insights into the Misfits as well as some well-deserved character development for Rio himself.
This issue picks up directly after the Halloween party of issue #9. Rio is in the hospital waiting to hear Pizzazz’s condition having been the first person to find her. Stormer rushes in, emotionally distraught. She’s feeling guilty for yelling at Pizzazz on the phone; doubly so after finding out she’s Pizzazz’s emergency contact. Rio reassures her, adorably calling her Saint Stormer. The two talk about the persona Pizzazz fronts and how vulnerability like this brings realization about what lies beneath the image. Stormer needs to contact Jetta and Roxy, but neither are answering their phones. Rio knows where to find them and offers to help. In flashback, Rio hunts down Roxy for an interview and discovers that Roxy and Jetta secretly live together. The appearance of things versus the reality ties it all together.
Additionally, Rio himself is finally fleshed out as more than purple-haired eye candy. As one might expect from the love interest of Jerrica, Rio is sensitive, sympathetic, and suave. When placed in a position to exploit Pizzazz’s accident for page views, he finds a way to save the Misfits’ privacy while also making his editor happy. Of course, that means getting an exclusive interview with Jem and the Holograms to make up for the lost insider info about the accident.
This is a more somber issue, though there are still doses of humor, cute, and glam, mostly in the flashbacks to interviews with the Misfits. Unfortunately, the guest artist, Corin Howell isn’t quite up to the challenge of drawing emotional nuance on the characters’ faces. The same look of concern frequents each close-up. In the example below, the movement in of each panel fails to offer much other than more space for his interior monologue.
Through Rio’s eyes, this issue delves into what’s behind the performance, not just on stage but even with those closest to us. It’s a sweet reflection on the truth of human beings and an apt dramatic pause to deal with Pizzazz’s accident.
Still, I can’t help but be chomping at the bit for the return of Sophie Campbell with the coming “Dark Jem” arc.