Jem and the Holograms: Dimensions #4: Social Headaches

Jem and the Holograms Dimensions 4 Cover A. Tasty Written by Sina Grace. Drawn by Hannah Templer. Jemojis Written by Kevin Panetta. Drawn by Abby Boeh. IDW Publishing. 7 March 2018

Jem and the Holograms: Dimensions #4

Sina Grace (Writer), Hannah Templer (Artist), Shawn Lee (Letters)
Kevin Panetta (Writer), Abby Boeh (Artist), Heather Danforth (Colours), Shawn Lee (Letters)
IDW Publishing
7 March, 2018

In the final issue of Jem and the Holograms: Dimensions, the two rival bands find themselves at the receiving end of social media madness.

Jem and the Holograms Dimensions 4 Cover RI. Tasty Written by Sina Grace. Drawn by Hannah Templer. Jemojis Written by Kevin Panetta. Drawn by Abby Boeh. IDW Publishing. 7 March 2018

In the first story, ‘Tasty’, The Misfits get the career-making opportunity to appear on the cover of Tasty Trends magazine. DJ/ photographer Norwood Cunningham messages Pizzazz about the proposition and she gladly jumps at the chance. After all, the Holograms have never been featured – this is the kind of media exposure The Misfits cannot afford to lose.

But it is only after Pizzazz’s warm-up solo shoot is complete, where she is treated like the celebrity she thinks she is, does she actually realise that her band was not called to the photo op. The Misfits are furious and very close to breaking up over the fracas but this is a band who has survived everything together. One pesky photographer pushing his own agenda cannot hold them back. What social media trickery can The Misfits conjure to show the world that they cannot be tangled with in this way?

Jem and the Holograms Dimensions 4 Cover B. Tasty Written by Sina Grace. Drawn by Hannah Templer. Jemojis Written by Kevin Panetta. Drawn by Abby Boeh. IDW Publishing. 7 March 2018

The second story, ‘Jemojis’, also puts the Misfits at the forefront. While perfecting their latest single, The Misfits learn that Jem and the Holograms have launched an app of emojis based on the band, Jemojis. The app launch is to be accompanied by a concert by the Holograms, which gives Pizzazz an idea about disrupting it. With the help of IT expert Techrat, Pizzazz hijacks the Holograms’ concert and unleash their own emoticons, Misfitojis. Unfortunately for The Misfits, the audience is not so easily swayed. Can their new song save them from public humiliation?

Up until now, most of the issues of Dimensions have been fairly well-balanced in the handling of the two stories. Sadly, this last issue leaves readers with one clear favourite — ‘Tasty’. For one, there is much more plotting in this story than in ‘Jemojis’. Writer Sina Grace seems to have put a lot of thought into the story and characterisations. He gives Pizzazz an entire arc but allows her to remain true to her vindictive and self-absorbed self. It would have been great if the other Misfits got to do a bit more but that might be asking too much for a story that is barely half an issue in length.

I am not saying that ‘Jemojis’ is not a good story, but in the context of the series, it is undoubtedly the weakest with regards to plot. Writer Kevin Panetta does little to expand on the rivalry between the bands. Most of the panels in this story are dedicated to the bands singing on stage. It’s the kind of story that you end up flicking through, which would have been fine in any other issue but, as the final story of the series? This is an insubstantial one.

It is also an interesting editorial choice to end the series’ run with two stories about The Misfits. I can understand wanting to balance the bands and characters throughout the series but, considering this is essentially a Jem and the Holograms series, it does seem strange to end with their rival band, especially because the Holograms take up so little space in the final pages here. Does the character focus detract from the series? No, but it is still an odd way to end things.

As one has come to expect from this series, the colours absolutely pop off the page. The hair, the clothes, even the settings, are bright and jazzy. Every page introduces the reader to a world they would love to live in. These characters are undoubtedly aimed at younger readers but, even for some older readers, they are a joy to read. I would go as far as to say that a lot of mainstream adult-oriented comics could take a few pointers about vibrancy from Dimensions. One does not need to be ‘dark’ to be interesting.

Jem and the Holograms Dimensions 4 Page 7. Tasty Written by Sina Grace. Drawn by Hannah Templer. IDW Publishing. 7 March 2018
Art by Hannah Templer

When it comes to the art, I found Hannah Templer’s work on ‘Tasty’ marginally more delightful than Abby Boeh’s work for ‘Jemojis’. I like that their art flows well into each other, making for a much better reader journey than the jarring takes in issue three which went from childlike and innocent to adult and garish. Templer captured the characters’ expressions better, while still maintaining a cartoonish appeal for the target audience. The detail on her settings was limited though, as most of the focus for the story was on character. The colours here are stunning, especially when the band get dressed up for the photoshoot.

Boeh’s characters had more simplistic features but she did have much more background to work on. With the primary setting of ‘Jemojis’ being a concert, Boeh was tasked with not only drawing a realistic stage for a band but also a larger-than-life screen accompanying them and their musical and technical equipment. She does all this superbly, giving readers a real sense of space and setting. Heather Danforth uses a more muted palette of colours but still manages to capture that quintessential Jem-vibe.

Jem and the Holograms Dimensions 4 Page 20. Jemojis Written by Kevin Panetta. Drawn by Abby Boeh. IDW Publishing. 7 March 2018
Art by Abby Boeh

Once again, the consistency in characters’ racial and body diversity is present. This has been a huge positive of the series, that no matter the artist working on the story, the characters are consistently drawn to reflect their race and size.

The same, unfortunately, cannot be said of the LGBTQIA+ inclusiveness. Till this issue, every book of the series had included at least one romantic moment between two queer characters but neither of the stories in this issue do so. The primary couples so far – Misfit Blaze and the Misfit manager, Clash, and Misfit Stormer and Hologram Kimber — barely interact in the stories, let alone romance each other. For readers who have been on the journey so far, this may not be a problem but, considering that this series is actually a set of stand-alone stories, new readers could easily pick this last book up and have no idea about the inclusive environment the series has created thus far. That is truly unfortunate for a comic run so dedicated to diversity.

Though not a complete letdown, this fourth and final issue has not lived up to the expectations that the series has built for readers. It could have been much better. More elaborate plotting and a focus on other characters instead of just Pizzazz could have done the trick. As it stands, this is not the best farewell to what has been an incredibly enjoyable miniseries.

However, looking at the positives of the series as a whole, the format worked to bring the supporting characters to the forefront, had some interesting lessons to share with readers and gave us a beautiful, vibrant, inclusive world to live in for 22 pages every month. One hopes that Jem and the Holograms: Dimensions returns with more focus and heart to entertain its readers.

Louis Skye

Louis Skye

A writer at heart with a fondness for well-told stories, Louis Skye is always looking for a way to escape the planet, whether through comic books, films, television, books, or video games. E always has an eye out for the subversive and champions diversity in media. Louis' podcast, Stereo Geeks, is available on all major platforms. Pronouns: E/ Er/ Eir