With character introductions out of the way, Jem and the Holograms #4 fully focuses on the music, characters, and their relationships. Sophie Campbell continues to make Jem the most stylish book in comics with a nice mix of casual and performance outfits for the characters. She continues to draw women with diverse skin colors and body types while Kelly Thompson spends some extra time develop bits of their personalities. Aja gets to make dad jokes and be the hard worker of the band while Shana tries to make sure everyone is happy and realizes that sometimes you just need a latte break. Thompson also looks at the strained relationship between Misfits super-fans Blaze and Clash and some of the budding romances. However, the story truly comes to life when the musical element kicks in.
Colorist M. Victoria Robado plays an integral part into making Jem #4 the shiny piece of pop candy that readers have begun to fall in love with. Her palette alternates between bright and soft, both in the characters’ appearances and the world around them. For example, Shana wears a plain white tee, but has gorgeous dark purple hair. Also, Kimber (who is handling a “cute emergency” for most of the issue) has incredibly pale skin that contrasts with her striking red braids and expressive makeup. Sophie Campbell is one of the few artists, who gives characters different makeup styles having to do with their character. Jerrica doesn’t wear a lot of make-up (some foundation and a bit of eye shadow), but Jem goes all out with pink and pastels, which goes wonderfully with her outfit and longer hair. But to her credit, Thompson doesn’t make Jem uber-confident and some of Jerrica’s vulnerabilities are still present even when she’s a hologram.
This theme of identity subtly runs through Jem and the Holograms #4 from the titular character to Blaze and Clash, who are planning to sabotage the Holograms’ first gig at the Starlight Foundation. Blaze is trying to move on from her destructive days as a Misfits’ fan when she is coaxed back and forced to work her frenemy Clash. Campbell gives Blaze a cute hairstyle with two different colors, but she also wears a very professional blouse and outfit. Kelly Thompson writers her as having some regrets about her past actions on behalf of the Misfits and wisely decides to not show flashbacks, but use the strained relationship between the characters to create tension.
This strain in identity also happens earlier in the issue when Kimber and Stormer meet in a bookstore to discuss their relationship. Kelly Thompson lets Kimber cut down on the flirtatiousness (just a tiny bit) and has her show that she genuinely cares for Stormer. The panel grid format selected by Campbell lets readers intensely focus on every little touch or word said by these starcrossed lovers. The trope of two people from rival factions falling in love predates Shakespeare, but Thompson and Campbell put a nice twist on it by having the most “dependable” and “highstrung” members of each band fall in love. Kimber is known for falling in love with lots of cute girls and being late for practice and gigs, but Stormer is the solid rock of the Misfits and probably the only thing keeping Pizazz semi-under control.
Jem and the Holograms #4 is a comic that continues to put Sophie Campbell’s unique sense of style on display (especially during the concert scenes and when Pizazz is depicted). However, it is also one hell of a romance comic with two relationships that couldn’t have more different dynamics. It is also filled with naturalistic humor and pays homage to the 1980s cartoon while having a more diverse cast of characters. The pacing may be on the slow side, but Jem and the Holograms #4 more than overcomes this with its glorious art and sharp character profiles.