Grim_Noir …and The Holograms: Infinite(ly) Outrageous

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Title: Jem and The Holograms/The Misfits: Infinite Parts 1& 2

Writer: Kelly Thompson

Artists: Stacey Lee, Jen Hickman, Jen St-Ange

Colorists (and Lyric Lettering): Sarah Stern, M. Victoria Robado

Letterer: Shawn Lee

Editor: Sarah Gaydos

Published by IDW Publishing

Reviewed by Grim_Noir

Fans of the CW’s The Flash TV series rejoice, with good cause, every time their heroes cross over into an alternate mirror world known as Earth-2. Fans of IDW Publishing’s Jem and The Holograms comic book universe should be equally ebullient this month, as the Holograms cast leaps through a portal and confronts versions of themselves who have taken VERY different roads…

“Truly Outrageous” was the tagline of the original syndicated daily cartoon show. Perhaps “Truly Excessive” should have been the catch phrase of this cheesy, toyetic property. It possessed every vice of the late 80s: reach-for-the-sky hairstyles, shredded clothing designed to emulate The Go-Gos, Aladdin-Sane-style make-up, solid gold Rolls-Royce convertibles, limitless budgets, non-ironic childish behavior from rock stars and Dynasty-level rock industry shenanigans. Wisely, when writer Kelly Thompson rebooted the series for IDW in 2015, she not only consolidated, streamlined, and updated the old plotlines, but, together with her original artist, Sophie Campbell, they created a more realistically multi-cultural ensemble complete with more realistic body types.

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For non-initiates, the new Jem and The Holograms is about Jerrica Benton, who, with her biological sister, Kimber, and their adopted sisters, Aja and Shana, sets out to start a pop-rock band. The idea is driven by younger sister Kimber, but Aja and Shana are capable musicians. The problem is, none of them have the vocal chops to be a lead singer except Jerrica. If only Jerrica could overcome this crippling stage-fright that plagues her, even during rehearsals and auditions. When their struggling inventor father passes away, the girls have to find a way to make money before they miss a mortgage payment. While cleaning out their father’s old lab, Jerrica discovers the holographic A.I. he had been working on. This virtual intelligence introduces itself as “Synergy.” During their conversations, Synergy shows Jerrica how she can project hard light holograms, not only to make herself visible, but to disguise others by using mobile emitters disguised as earrings. With Jerrica able to mask herself as a holographic alter-ego she dubs “Jem,” the sisters find themselves not only able to book gigs, but well on their way to winning a recording contract.

On their way to the top, The Holograms attract enemies, namely an all-girl punk rock band, The Misfits, and frenemies in the Euro-synth band, The Stingers.

For hardcore fans of the old cartoon series (or survivors of the 2016 live-action movie), let me give you a few minor/early twists that should inspire you to check out the IDW comic book: Jetta is a founding member of The Misfits, Raya defects from The Stingers to become The Holograms new drummer, Eric Raymond is just a shifty manager of The Misfits that their leader, Pizzazz, fires almost immediately, AND Kimber and Stormer are both lesbians (who are cast as the Romeo and Juliet of this series). See? Miss a little…miss a lot… And, thanks to Thompson’s uninterrupted helming of this book through 26 issues, 2 Annuals, a spin-off Misfits series, and a Valentine’s Day Special, ALL of the changes have been for the better.

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If the first 26 issues of this series were the feet-on-the-ground Josie and the Pussycats-meets-Light of Day adventures, then this crossover miniseries blasts everyone into a Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space stratosphere of sci-fi adventure. When an “Earth-2” version of the weaselly Techrat shows up revealing secrets only their father, Emmett Benton, could know, the gals jump at chance to see their father one last time (even if he is an alternate version on an alternate world). Following closely on their heels are The Misfits, spurred onward by Pizz’s defiant “Anything-they-can-do-WE-can-do-BETTER” attitude. But when everyone crashes into this new Earth, that dystopia crashes into them as well. Jem is a tool of economic and governmental control. Is Emmett the architect of all of this? and who’s “driving” the Jem hologram? Is it Synergy, Jerrica, or someone else?

Meanwhile, Kimber travels with her lady-love, Stormer, on The Misfits’ own voyage of self-discovery. In this world, if they are even still alive, or together, The Misfits would be living in the wastelands that 90% of the population occupies. Most unnerving, it is unclear to anyone whether Pizzazz seeks to rally their other selves or beat them to death with her own bare hands.

While not a perfect jumping-on point, …Infinite gives you enough to slip into the waters of Jem and The Holograms. It is placing yourself in the hands of a master storyteller and letting the ride wash over you without feeling like you have to shift your brain into neutral to do it. Hopefully, it will inspire newcomers to seek out the collected volumes of the IDW series and remind loyal fans why they want more of Thompson’s vision of The Holograms and their rockin’ world.

Holograms with Cold Slither

 

Ol' Grim Hisself

* GRIM_NOIR is convinced that the internet is a figment of his imagination (which may or may not have been created by Synergy). Please comment below and/or follow @Grim_Noir on Twitter or Friend on Good Reads or Facebook to end his self-delusions.

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