Kelly Thompson (w), Emma Vieceli (a)
September 16, 2015
In “Viral: Part 1,” Synergy helps Jerrica build the Holograms’ new website, and Kimber struggles with her feelings for Stormer. Meanwhile, the Misfits get a sinsiter new manager…
(A review copy of the issue was provided by the publisher. Some spoilers ahead.)
First off: are you already a fan of Jem and the Holograms, or is the comic your introduction to the series?
Ginnis Tonik: Yessss!!! I have been avidly reading the comic since its debut. I read a lot of comics for a variety of reasons, but Jem and the Holograms is one of those I can never wait to get my hands on, and it just gets me so excited, and after I read it, total warm fuzzies.
Kayleigh Hearn: As WWAC’s Jem Jam series shows, I’m a big Jem and the Holograms fan. I’ve loved the show since childhood and the new comics series has been an incredibly fun and colorful re-imagining.
This is guest artist Emma Vieceli’s first issue. How do you feel about the art?
Gin: I was surprised by how much I liked it because I was prepared to be very biased and grumble about the lack of Sophie Campbell, but I like Vieceli’s art a lot. It is less clean than Campbell’s, but it’s still true to the Jem aesthetic. Also, keeping Robado on colors helped make the transition less glaring—the colors are still that fantastic 80s electric. However, I think Campbell really nails it on clothing in a way that is hard to match. I missed her outfit designs.
Kayleigh: Vieceli’s art provides a smooth transition from the last issue. It’s very charming; I love Jerrica’s furrowed brow, and Shana’s scared “Oh god” face. The characters all hang onto their individuality, which is really important with these character designs. And Vieceli introduces two new characters who make a big impression…
Jem and the Holograms#7 introduces classic Jem baddies Eric Raymond and Techrat. What did you think about them?
Gin: Techrat looks badass drawn by Vieceli – like creepy cyberpunk/goth kid. At first I thought that Techrat’s was gender flipped, but it looks like they are in fact male? Maybe Techrat could be trans? That would be super cool. Eric seems smarmy so all is working there. It’s pretty cool that Vieceli gets to come on early enough to draw some new characters because, to me, it feels less like Vieceli is guest starring in Campbell’s place, but that Vieceli has a stake in the comic, too.
Kayleigh: My first thought was: “oh no, Eric Raymond’s hot.” Well, that was my second thought. I initially assumed that the redheaded woman chastising The Misfits was Erica Raymond—which wouldn’t be unprecedented, since Juliette Lewis as Erica Raymond is about the only part of the new Jem movie that doesn’t give me hives. But give the evil, smarmy manager glasses and I’m on board, apparently.
Techrat has possibly the most minor makeover of all the Jem cast. He’s gone full-Skrillex. It’s interesting to compare Techrat with a totally revamped character like Craig, who once looked like a total yuppie (pink polo shirt and all) and now sports piercings and tattoos. Yet both looks feel completely right for the characters.
Romance, romance, romance! How do you feel about the developing relationships between Jerrica and Rio, Aja and Craig, and Kimber and Stormer?
Gin: I may care a little bit more about Jerrica and Rio this time around which has a lot to do with Thompson’s writing—Rio and Jerrica both have more personality and more chemistry, and their relationship is plagued by issues that seem more relatable (like Rio reviewing the Misfits) rather than the whole like, “oh, is Rio cheating on Jerrica if he is into Jem?” thing from the original show. But like I said, I only care a little bit because KIMBER + STORMER = 4EVA, y’all. Even when they are fighting in this episode, I am a little heartbroken, but I know they are meant to be.
Kayleigh: Praise Synergy, I actually like Rio! The revamped Rio/Jerrica romance is one of the best things the comic’s done so far. Rio as a purple-haired Lois Lane to Jerrica’s Clark Kent is a great idea that raises the stakes (“Oh no, will Rio discover Jem is really Jerrica?!”) without turning Rio into a cad or Jerrica into a doormat. I’m actually really invested in their relationship. (At least until Riot shows up.) Kimber and Stormer are heartbreaking as the Romeo and Juliet of pop/punk bands. It’s also interesting to see Craig introduced so early—I wonder if there are bigger plans for him in the comic than there ever were in the show.
This is the beginning of the “Viral” story arc. The revamped, 21st century Jem features a lot of references to the internet and social media—does the comic handle this well? Does it feel believable?
Gin: I think so, and I think the timing is significant because the 80s are in a big way … or at least my partner tells me this as he is a high school teacher. What are kids into these days, eh? (Asks while watering the lawn.) And because of that, it doesn’t even really register with me that this comic is set in 2015—it is still so Jem, and Jem is so 80s, and I think it is really impressive how Thompson/Campbell/Vieceli have walked that line.
Kayleigh: When the comic was announced, I was immediately curious about how it would handle the internet and social media. In a time when a celebrity’s entire personal history is just a Wikipedia page away, Jem’s secret identity staying a secret seemed impossible. Kelly Thompson seems mindful of how celebrity culture has changed since the 1980s, and Jem already possesses a supercomputer, so Synergy using the internet to help Jem and the Holograms is a logical step. I can’t believe we’re on issue #7 already, but the new Jem and the Holograms remains a refreshing update of the animated series.