Jem and the Holograms #8
Written by Kelly Thompson
Art by Emma Vieceli
Colors by M. Victoria Robado
Letters by Shawn Lee
Published by IDW Publishing on October 14, 2015
Jem and the Holograms remains the pastel and neon-colored antidote to overconsumption of gritty, dark comics. Cleanse your palate and soul with this charming series. As the middle issue of the “Viral!” arc, #8 has a ballad-slow first half and then starts to rock in the second. Delicious twists in the rising action and humorous character interactions create delightful, pulp-comedy fun.
The first half builds the minor chords of character conflict. The issue opens with Synergy’s redone video for “More, More, More.” Harkening back to Jem’s cartoon days, the band is sporting their 80’s outfits. While it’s a cute nod, the dresses, especially Jem’s, seem lamely anachronistic compared to the improved fashion design Sophie Campbell has been providing. The band, especially Kimber, is pleased with the new video. She suggests they should write a song about Synergy, causing everyone to go into panic mode. Kimber rightly feels attacked and patronized. Only a couple humorous lines lift the heaviness of the scene. Jerrica tries to explain to Kimber that Synergy could be dangerous in the wrong hands. “Like the Misfits?” Kimber asks. “I was thinking more corrupt governments or crooked corporations, but sure…the Misfits, too.” Her answer brings into stark contrast the difference between the trumped up battle of the bands melodrama the comic delights in and the stakes of real life.
The second uplifting major chord comes from Kimber remembering the tragedy of Syner-Kitty. We get no explanation, and our minds are left to manufacture the absurd possibilities. Shifting back to minor, Kimber wants to give the choice to Synergy. The others are surprised–Kimber is the only one that sees Synergy as deserving true human agency. Synergy agrees secrecy is for the best. Happily, it is also the best for the melodrama and the comedy, since both tension and irony can be wrung from big secrets.
Echoing the conflict in the Holograms, and perhaps even commenting on the tone and pacing of the issue, the Misfits are playing through Stormer’s new song, a slower number inspired by the break-up with Kimber. Pizzazz likes the lyrics but wants to speed it up–it won’t fit with the rest of the songs on the album. Stormer thinks the ballad will be a good contrast. The disagreement amps up until Stormer yells, “You’re not the boss!!!” And in one of the moments of humor in this scene, Roxy’s and Jetta’s jaws drop and Jetta pushes Roxy out of the room, saying, “Go go go go go go.” Amazingly, the rift is bridged when Pizzazz actually backs off the yelling and explains herself relatively reasonably. Major resolution.
With that conflict defused, the issue kicks up the bpm and makes with the gleeful fun. Dramatic irony abounds as Five By Five Records decides to send the Misfits on tour–under conditions of sold out shows and minimal drama. Pizzazz asks who the opener is, and Harcourt says she’s working on it. Then we find out Five By Five has offered Jerrica the best record deal for the Holograms, and since she’s had no help in choosing the contract offers, Jerrica has decided to sign with the label despite the Misfits’ presence. Although the issue leaves it hanging, I think we all know who is going to be the opener of the tour.
Back on the melodramatic end, Jerrica’s feeling abandoned to management, writing, and fronting the band without help from Shana, Aja, or Kimber. On top of that, they’re throwing a costumed Halloween party to debut the video that requires set-up. To amp up the exclusivity, they’re requiring a password at the door, which swings the issue back to the fun on the Misfits side. Pizzazz is hilariously playing a first-person shooter online with a 9-year-old named Pablo. Best line: “What did you…?! You little– YOUR momma, Pablo. YOUR momma.” Clash enters and visually tells Pizzazz about the Halloween party. Kelly Thompson nicely hangs a bell on the fact that Clash’s cousin is named Video. The crazy must run in the family.
In the best scene of the issue, Eric (his name spelled wrong on his Starbucks coffee cup) checks in on Techrat’s progress in hacking the Benton network. Techrat is so befuddled, he can no longer speak English. He then manages to explain that the system is rewriting itself ahead of him, almost like an AI. He is simultaneously in hell and never happier due to the challenge Synergy presents, and Emma Vieceli’s visual depiction of Techrat’s swings from depression to glee is adorably hilarious, taking cues from the exaggerated expressiveness of manga. I must admit, I remain cool to Vieceli’s art. Though much of the character design is similar to Sophie Campbell’s, the faces remain too changeable, unfixed. However, this scene with Techrat has nearly won me over.
Techrat thinks he might be able to hack it if he was on-site. Luckily, states a classically smirking Eric, the Holograms have a party coming up, and the Misfits are going to crash it. The issue ends on a Dutch angle shot of the Misfits in their (rather obvious) dayglow skeleton costumes sharing the password–magic–with the bouncer.
Prepped for epic band clash in the wonderful world of Halloween costumes, I cannot wait to see the hijinks Viral! Part 3 brings. It is going to be…wait for it…outrageous.