In an issue that seems to largely advance the plot, Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell take the time to linger on both bands’ insecurities and conflicts, reunite the divided couples, and develop Pizzazz’s familial backstory in Jem and the Holograms #14. A final tease of the showdown with Silica to come leaves the reader antsy for more.
As the arc hits its full stride, the story takes off, fast and fun. Kelly Thompson built up an anticipation for what Silica and Dark Jem might bring during the last two issues, and this issue pays off in humorous character hijinks and ebullient art by Sophie Campbell and M. Victoria Robado.
The earnest way in which it explores Blaze’s concerns of acceptance as a transwoman and the support it offers her through her close friend Clash and the Misfits as new partners fills me with hope that some day, support and acceptance like this will be the norm. This should be required reading for all teens. Heck, adults too.
Issue #11 kicks off the new Dark Jem arc. As such, it does quite a bit of stage-setting. Thompson finally introduces the Starlight Girls, gives equal time to developing the character conflicts and betrayals in the Misfits, and kicks off the take over of Jerrica and her sisters in the form of a corrupted Synergy.
The biggest reason I’m hyped for Dark Jem is the return of artist Sophie Campbell. The cover designs for the “dark” versions of the band members are deliciously gothic. The normal pastel palette has been replaced by a largely black and white one with subdued pastel highlights. The characters are harder-edged with tattered detail work on their clothing.
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.
However, this issue, while having great fun with the romantic pairings and the Misfits’ “mucking” antics, also has a dark side. Jerrica is dressed up as Black Swan. This is perhaps the most important costume of the issue. First, it reinforces the anxiety Jerrica feels about being two people and losing sight of who Jerrica is when all around her people clamor for Jem. Thompson presented this same anxiety in a different pop culture homage in the Jem Annual’s Teen Wolf dream. The Black Swan costume carries more horror than Teenwolf’s comedy. That gothic horror foreshadows the dark twists of the ending: Pizzazz’s accident and Techrat’s discovery in the pool house. It ultimately points an arrow straight at the next story arc: “Dark Jem
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 title begs the question: Is it truly outrageous? Unequivocally, yes. Diverging in style and structure from the normal Jem and the Holograms issues, the Outrageous Annual takes our characters and delves into their psychology via pop culture mash-ups.
Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps #4 will make readers feel truly victorious and want to “punch holes in the sky” (from DeConnick’s sign-off on the series) in a battle royale that combines both hard punching hand to hand combat and beautiful aerial maneuvers courtesy of Laura Braga, Paolo Pantalena, and Lee Loughridge. Kelly Sue DeConnick and Kelly Thompson also don’t neglect character relationships as Captain Marvel inspires the Banshee Squadron to fight gods while also helping her old friend Kit find thunderous redemption. Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps #4 is a single issue party celebrating the power of Carol Danvers as one of Marvel Comics’ most inspirational icons and wraps up DeConnick’s work on the character in powerful and occasionally tearful way.
Jem and the Holograms #7 Written by Kelly Thompson Art by Emma Vieceli Colors by M. Victoria Robado Letters by Tom Long Published by IDW 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 …
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.
Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps #1 uses the characters and ideas brought up in Kelly Sue DeConnick’s seminal Captain Marvel run to tell a thought provoking and intense war story set in space with a diverse group of female leads. Each dog fight has a point as Carol Danvers progresses from soldier to possible revolutionary.