Jem and the Holograms: Infinite
Kelly Thompson (Writer), Stacey Lee, Jenn St-Onge (Artists), Jen Hickman (Artist and Letters), Sarah Stern, M. Victoria Robado (Letters and Colours), Shawn Lee (Letters), Brittany Peer (Colours)
13 February, 2018
Jem and the Holograms and the Misfits are at it again: not singing, but arguing. Can these two popular bands ever get along? Jem finds it unlikely. Leader of the Misfits, Pizzazz, refuses to let go of Jem’s perceived slights against her group and there is no reasoning with her, even when the Holograms have done nothing wrong.
One such argument between Jem and Pizzazz happens on a particularly difficult day, in front of an unwitting audience. Jerrica Benton is struggling to decide whether she should reveal to the world that the Jem they have been seeing is actually a holographic deception, created by the group’s A.I., Synergy. She is terrified that the truth behind her identity will destroy the band. The others agree, except for newest member, Raya, who believes the band could survive unveiling their deception.
With this conundrum still hanging over their heads, the Holograms are visited by Techrat, engineer for the Misfits. Except Techrat claims to need their help… to save the world. Or rather, the world he comes from. A world unlike the one the Holograms call home, one in serious danger of being destroyed by their adoration of Jem and the Holograms.
Infinite collects six issues of the first-ever Jem and the Holograms and Misfits crossover. As with any story involving parallel universes and crossovers, there is a lot happening here. I would say the plot is fairly formulaic–a huge corporation, Jemcorp, tries to take over the world by exploiting the love people have for Jem and the Holograms, thus creating an elite one-percent that lives in luxury while everyone else lives in squalor. We have seen it before in other comics and media, but this is the kind of story that can never get old, mainly because it remains relevant, no matter what year it is.
I particularly like the pacing of this collection. At no point while reading the six issues did I feel the pace slacking. And, even though I generally dislike exposition, the way it was handled here was excellent. As the Misfits meet allies on Jemworld, they learn about what happened to their Jemworld counterparts and how exactly they ended up in such a mess. While these stories are recounted to them, each panel progresses the tale so the reader is never left bored. In fact, this was probably the most exciting section of the collection.
I am also impressed by how quickly one can become acquainted with the universe and the characters in this series even without knowing anything about Jem and the Holograms. For instance, the writers include hints in the dialogue that speak to the history between the two bands as well as the Holograms’ concerns about their own future. This is good thinking on behalf of the writers and makes the collection accessible to new readers.
Overall, I would say the art in this collection is a weaker point; I much preferred the varied artwork of the new Jem and the Holograms: Dimensions series. There was a lot to draw here, so the artists must get credit for achieving as much as they did in these issues. But with different artists alternating between issues, the art looks inconsistent. It took me out of the story a few times and I found myself having to reorient to the characters every time the next issue came around.
The majority of the art was done by Jen Hickman and Jenn St-Onge and between the two, I preferred Hickman’s cleaner lines over St-Onge’s quirky, cartoonish stylization. Hickman’s style highlighted the characters’ individual personalities whereas St-Onge’s work gave all the characters identical facial features, leaving the reader to distinguish the characters by their hair and clothes; this was especially confusing with regards to the Caucasian characters. I also felt that Hickman executed facial expressions better than St-Onge; the issues she worked on had the characters express a range of believable emotions. Having said that, the art in this collection is whimsical enough to attract younger readers, which is great. The colours are glorious and add so much atmosphere to not one, but two, worlds. They help distinguish the multitude of characters not only from each other but from their alternate universe counterparts as well.
I love that almost the entire creative team is comprised of women. I think it makes a huge difference on the page when there are more women involved behind the scenes. None of the characters are needlessly sexualised; Jem’s love life doesn’t inform her entire arc, in fact, it barely factors into the plot. The central romance is instead between the Misfits’ Stormer and the Holograms’ Kimber, which is very sweet and plays an important part in the denouement.
The characters’ racial diversity is obvious no matter who the artist or colourist on the issue is. Then there is the diversity of body shapes, which also remains consistent throughout the miniseries. These aspects could easily have been lost in the shuffle of crossover creative teams but instead, they form a focal point of the Jem and the Holograms series. Having grown up without such representation, I feel that IDW should be commended for their efforts. The big two, DC and Marvel, could learn a great deal about diversity from these comics.
This reinvention of Jem and the Holograms has been an incredibly fun read. The characters are unique and interesting on their own, the plot was fantastical but also engaging. I love the dynamic between the two bands, and the cross-band romance makes it that much more entertaining. I am certain the Holograms and the Misfits will be back at each other’s throats before long, though Infinite proves the two bands can work together. The story was better for it and I hope the writers can continue this camaraderie somehow. Even, if they choose not to, I expect the following issues to be full of colourful, diverse, and enjoyable stories.