By Clyde Hall. I remember thinking the Jem cartoon was a decent MTV-era take on the rock-n-roll Saturday morning fare of my misspent youth, like Archie’s Funhouse and Josie and the Pussycats. I had no clue. The rabid fanbase the show generated only became apparent decades later when I helped a friend collect Jem dolls and accessories.
IDW knew, and they’ve built smart, thoroughly modern Jem comics from that formidable foundation. The latest is a first-rate anthology series, Jem and the Holograms: Dimensions #1, each issue featuring two different stories by two different creative teams.
With short story anthologies, readers acknowledge that some tales will gel, some will excel, and some will just be hell to get through. But if this premiere issue is any indication, the Dimensions audience is in for some rocking good reads. And it’s worth mentioning, even though this kind of comic format can’t afford pages of introductions for a prominent cast of multiple characters, new readers will love the quick, in-story way each is established. Don’t know your Holograms from your Misfits, or a Misfit from a Stinger? No worries, there’s a bios page section by Sophie Campbell to fill in any blanks.
The first story, “Catnap”, written and rendered by the same Sophie Campbell, is a wintertime romp with Misfits mega-fan Clash forced to catsit Madmartigan, owned by Misfits lead singer Pizzazz. Not willing to cancel a planned ski trip, Clash brings the kitty along for what turns into a Battle of the Band Groupies. Avalanches, evil plots, and hang gliding ensue. It’s pure fun, and Campbell’s edgy graphics (with scintillating colors by M. Victoria Robado) pop against the snowscapes. An animated short of this tale, guided by Campbell’s artwork, would be a thing of infinite beauty.
As much fun as the opening installment is, Dimensions‘ second story, “Roll With It”, brings giddiness to geeky little hearts like mine. Writer Kate Leth and artist Tana Ford ask: What do a weary Jem and her band do after touring and a ten-hour return flight? Start an impromptu Dungeons & Dragons session, naturally. The storytelling is tight, effective, and seemingly effortless. But in it resides great guffaw-worthy dialogue and a true sense of tabletop gaming chaos. Plus, Leth embellishes the various characters while also introducing each of their in-game D&D characters. The correlation of each revealed more about the Holograms through their player characters, organically.
Ford fuels that organic vibe with delightfully expressive art. She forms shapes that your eye naturally fills in for background work, while foreground individuals are vibrantly expressive. If you’re a gamer, and if you’ve ever talked a weary friend into Dungeon Mastering on short notice, you’ll identify with the goings-on here. That includes players more interested in snacks than the game, and a DM slow burn that becomes an inferno. Involving Synergy in the session was genius. Who could resist tapping an AI to provide real-time adventure and character holographic imaging? And who could resist putting this book on their pull list after such an inspired beginning?
Written by Sophie Campbell and Kate Leth.
Art by Sophie Campbell and Tana Ford.
Colors by M. Victoria Robado and Brittany Peer.
Letters by Shawn Lee.
8 out of 10
Enjoy this five-page preview of ‘ Jem and the Holograms: Dimensions’ #1, courtesy of IDW Publishing!