June the fourteenth saw the release of Jem and the Holograms #26, a thirty-two page special, ending the cult smash title’s ongoing run. Series scripter Kelly Thompson spoke to Comics Alliance about the end of Jem back in January; at the time, the final, giant-sized issue was slated for an April release. So it had been known for some time that the curtain was going to fall and the tour would be over—but a tour is a tour, not the be-all and end-all, and there’s always room for more. The summer’s already booked for Jem and the Misfits, who will be appearing, starting today, in a mini-series called Jem Infinite.
Jem Infinite isn’t a Marvel-style reboot (we specifically asked about this), and it’s not a razzle-dazzle repackaging. It’s a crossover event, technically, but really it’s just a six-part story that aims to put some of the science fiction back into the Jem and the Holograms concept. Jem Infinite features the same characters you already know, the same longterm backstory—it’s the same comic, about the same bands, it’s just designed to tell an (ironically) finite story, and do it in a slightly different genre mode. This mini-series will be written by the series-defining Kelly Thompson, so nothing you know and love will be lost in the transition from regular monthly series to summer special limited. To follow it you’ll need to be reading both Jem Infinite (featuring art by Jen Hickman, Stacy Lee and Sarah Stern) and Misfits Infinite (with the art team of Jenn St-Onge, M. Victoria Robardo, and Brittany Peer) as the narrative criss-crosses between both “separate” titles. Jem issues come first then Misfits issues: Jem Infinite #1, Misfits Infinite #1, Jem Infinite #2, and so forth.
This is how Jem will continue, in fact. Though the monthly series is over, the plan is for Jerrica, the Holograms, and their loves, lives, and music to live on in miniseries designed for trade collection (an area of sales in which, of course, the title has been proven to really shine). From here on out, the Holograms will be putting on bespoke tours, or … releasing concept albums? You get my drift, if perhaps my allegory is lacking; little pools of highly concentrated story expectable from the title post-#26. It’s an exciting thought. Every now and then, a new shot of Jem, highly defined, potentially experimentally art directed. When art doesn’t have to be kept up forever, it can go a little wilder. And when dollars don’t have to be spent monthly, a comic is a more accessible treat. Thompson, or any scripter engaged for the task, will able to define and refine a story and a focus in a way that monthly ongoing series (either by readership or rigour) aren’t easily amenable to. Beginning this new period of the title’s publication with a concept that goes “back to the roots”—the sci-fi concept that made Jem stand out in girls’ cartoon history—is smart. Move away but reach back. Make the circle bigger, the concept more inclusive but ever more sure of itself. Ready to learn more about Synergy? Great, this is your summer! And after that … the projects planned are secret, shh, but they’re out there.
Editor Sarah Gaydos shares her enthusiasm for the oncoming miniseries-only format, when asked, saying “it gives us a way to play with a tight structure and specific tone,” and comparing the possibilities for both Infinite and those attractively nebulous future minis to the current Misfits series:
“Misfits is so, so good, and I think that’s in part because it is laser focused: each issue reveals a struggle of each gal, and yet also contributes to the narrative as a whole by deepening the characters and sisterhood or friendships.”
Of course, in comics there’s always the matter of the “jumping off point.” If you read the first issue of Jem Infinite (remember, Jem issues come first, Misfits ones come second) and can’t stand the change in tone or that x happened to y, you can just … leave it at that. The difference in tone planned for this event is designed to best deliver the story of the mini, sure. But the change in tone and the change in title and in numbering—you could call that Jem-the-ongoing’s last gift. Should the worst happen, it’s always hard to draw a line in the sand between the bit that matters to you and the bit that messes with that. With Jem’s new modular format you’re placed better than ever to pick which stories happen. Who needs headcanon when you’ve got a self-selected shelf? It can be a hassle to dip in and out of a series you once liked but which you maybe somehow grew apart from. A title remaining technically ongoing, but actually delivered in detached, defined droplets, could be the best thing to ever happen to a healthy sense of fandom.