Monday 11 January 2016

Post-Christmas Reviewapalooza: A Look At Jem & The Holograms: Showtime Part 2*

David Bowie’s dead, the fuck is going on? I mean it was bad when Lemmy went, yes, but Lemmy’d been living on Jack Daniels and unfiltered since at least the mid-70s, if not always, in fact many of us Motorhead fans had come to believe that Lemmy was already dead and just nobody had had the balls to tell him. It wasn’t a shock is what I’m saying, but David Bowie’s like Superman or Charlie Brown or someone he can’t die (and yes please be a dick and tell me that Superman did in fact die, he got better though didn’t he? And I have the entire story-arc in first print so shut it). That, I suppose, is our problem of our making though, we build people up and forget that they are in fact people called ‘Dave’ and ‘John’ and ‘Jeff’ and make them ‘David Bowie’ ‘John Lennon’ and ‘Joey Ramone’ and only remember they’re actual human beings when they die on us. But we can get as philosophical (or the nearest I get to it anyway) as we all like the fact remains that no one woke up this morning and thought ‘I bet ol’ Bowie’s pegged it’ (except David Bowie it seems, he’d been ill for a while and keeping it quiet) and now even people who wouldn’t dream of owning Scary Monsters are wandering around Tescos in shock.
And people can dream up as creative or clichéd an eulogy as they like – and they will, every Tom, Dick and Wiz Khalifa will be sending out messages of utter tripe as today wears on – but the main point is that a very talented bloke has died and the world and a music scene dominated by the creatively bankrupt and talent show winners (and losers) is worse off for it and he has friends and family and batty ex-wives in the Big Brother House and their grief is frankly far more important than the fandom’s and far more important than making yourself look compassionate and hip (Piers Morgan) by spilling out a bunch of cliché – you know, like what I’m doing right now, of course I’m listening to Boys Keep Swinging while I do it, own Ziggy Stardust on vinyl and have been subjecting car journeys to everything from Life on Mars to The Laughing Gnome since I was about 10 so it’s OK (no I’m not being serious, though all those facts are true).
David Bowie’s dead, fuck sake!
I imagine it went like this:
St. Peter “we need to bump of another rock star, God”
God: “why? We just did in Lemmy”
St. Peter: “quota reasons, how about Sting?”
God: “No! he’ll be in my earhole all day about rainforests and tantric sex, do you really think I want to listen to the sexual techniques of the bass player from The Police? Anyway I always get him confused with Malcolm McDowell”
St. Peter: “Paul McCartney then?”
God: “Didn’t the fact that I took Lennon and Harrison first give you a big enough a hint? Don’t you have anyone who isn’t obnoxious?”
St. Peter: “well…um…Bono?”
God: “GAH!”
St. Peter: “um, well, David Bowie’s been ill”
God: “Done!”
St. Peter: “The flock won’t like it sir”
God: “I don’t care, if it keeps Bono away for another quarter, take the Thin White Duke”
FUCK YOU BONO! I knew it’d be your fault somehow.
Ah, we laugh so we don’t cry (though when Paul Weller goes I will sob like a girl with a skinned knee an’ shit)
David Bowie’s dead…fucking madness
Anyway I have to post the rest of my Look at Jem & the Hologram’s first story-arc, which is fitting if not somewhat unimportant feeling in light of today’s events, so are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin (again):

Continuing our Look At the first arc from IDW’s Jem & the Holograms series, I have nothing clever to say and my mum always said “if you don’t have anything clever to say, skip the intro paragraph” so let’s just get ‘em on stage.

< Part 1

Showtime Part 4 (Jem & the Holograms issue 4)
Quick Summary:  it’s the day of the Starlight benefit and Kimber is missing out on the band lampshading that their name makes no sense as they are in fact a hologram and three real people not the other way ‘round, she’s missing this because she’s being told by Stormer that they can’t see each other anymore or else Stormer will be out of the band. Pizzazz is annoyed that Stormer is late and Clash is missing, because Clash is meeting with Blaze to get into the benefit gig as a waitress. Kimber rushes after Stomer and kisses her in the street while Rio makes a good impression on Shana and Aja with fancy coffee. While running into the gig Kimber bashes straight into Clash who drops a load of tools. Stormer gets more shit for being late but stands up to the group. Rio meets Jem and Jem makes a terrible first impression. After their performance the first thing the television presenter asks Pizzazz is if she’s met Jem & The Holograms, Pizzazz screams. Meanwhile said band’s performance is going well until a whole part for the lighting rig falls, heading straight for Jem.

I think Pizzazz is having a breakdown, I mean is that intentional? She’s losing it on television, trusting no-one, having a random moment of sad silence (which I really liked, Pizzazz needs some humanising here and there to stop her just being a ball of anger and spotlight grabbing). Also are we to take it that Clash and Blaze used to date? I can see some implications here and there but as we have two girls in an out-and-out lesbian relationship it seems odd that the creative team are being coy – maybe for plot reasons rather than censorship reasons? Anyway this issue was great as you can tell by me spending more time talking what happened in it than what makes it up, no clunky dialogue to take me out of things, a couple of rushed panels from Campbell including one where Shana looks like a Smurf being squished but nothing offensive – although Kimber seems to be getting thinner each issue, has she been so worried about the Stormer thing she hasn’t been eating? Should I be concerned? Again I’ll just repeat it for clarity, I’m completely happy with Kimber and Stormer being cannon in this incarnation but I still hate Stormer’s portrayal, she just feels like a different character (and her outfit was awful this issue, she looked like either a prostitute or a salsa dancer in a Mexican-themed restaurant…in 1961) but she is responsible for the funniest moment of the issue – in fact I’m just gonna post it here:

Jetta is also consistently the sexiest girl in the book, just saying. Also, also Kimber has a hairstyle reminiscent of her original design for the gig, it looks great and was a lovely call back, thanks Sophie!

Showtime Part 5 (Jem & the Holograms issue 5)
Quick Summary: Aja saves Jem from the falling lighting rig, she’s not too hurt but gets taken in an ambulance all the same, putting Jerrica in her first Jem-related predicament as she has to be seen to be there as Jerrica for her sister and then has to show Jem leaving, luckily Synergy uses her previously stated ability to project holograms to make it look like Jem’s getting into a cab, which only makes the singer seem worse to Rio. Pizzazz is angry because this has garnered the Holograms more exposure, Clash decides to not take credit for it. Rio sneaks Aja some coffee in hospital. We then get a montage of everyone having a nice time as the Holograms record a new song written by Kimber (about Stormer): we see Rio & Jerrica and Stormer & Kimber be all cute and couple-y, the Misfits getting on with each other, Pizzazz loves cats and the Holgorams continue to bond with Rio. At the Misfits Vs Battle of the Bands festival everyone is hungry and as they can’t set up yet Jerrica lets them go off and play/eat; Kimber finds Stormer, Aja bumps into a new love interest after winning a HUGE My Little Pony and Jerrica and Rio have a fight over his (negative) view of Jem. Then Holograms and Misfits meet, it goes poorly and then Clash turns up, Kimber recognises her from the benefit, puts two and two together and ends up with food fight.

I have a nit-pick for this issue – Jerrica’s watch changes shape and design between issues, that’s annoying, that’s the sort of lack of attention to detail that takes me out of a comic, especially as she in fact didn’t change but just wrapped herself in a hologram. Moving along though I don’t think pacing is Kelly Thompson’s best quality, oh this issue itself is paced fine, a lot happens but none of it feels rushed or anything it’s just that after three very decompressed issues we now have 30 things happening, so much happens we need a montage, so as a story Showtime is a bit uneven.

But like I say this issue is fine and dandy, this will seem really horrible but I kind of wished someone had gotten more seriously injured – it would have been interesting if Jerrica has broken something for instance, and had to deal with masking a broken arm or leg as Jem but then that would require proper focus on the Jerrica/Jem part of Jem & The Holograms and that ain’t happening this story, though in Thompson and Campbell’s defence we do get our strategic first use of the Jem/Synergy powers and the fact that it just makes Rio dislike Jem more was a nice touch. Food fights are always fun but the funniest moment from this is Aja telling off the new love interest (he hasn’t been named yet) for not knowing his ‘basic fantasy creatures’ funny AND cute, I want to marry Aja.

Showtime Part 6 (Jem & The Holograms issue 6)
Quick Summary: The amusingly food coated Holograms and Misfits are brought before the Five by Five record label suits putting on the Misfits Vs competition, who want to eject the Holograms for breaking the rules, but Pizzazz says the Misfits want them to remain in the competition so they can blow them off stage, they are ignored by their label and the Holograms are disqualified. Stormer is more worried that Kimber hates her, Kimber for her part does think Stormer was involved but is a little doubtful and her sisters try to convince her that there might be some merit to this doubt, but both bands have to focus on more pressing concerns; the Misfits offer to play a full set and Jerrica decides to have Jem & The Holograms play across the road from them at the same time, using Synergy’s abilities to upstage them audibly and visually – it works, they hijack their sound system and steal their audience, the Misfits (justifiably) pissed off Misfits declare war on their rivals. 

There are parts of this issue I really like but the ending, ok it’s not a bad ending and it makes sense from the point of view of the characters (the Holograms do think the Misfits just tried to kill them) and from the characters’ roles in the franchise (the Misfits are ‘the bad guys’) but I’m not seeing it from their point of view, from the point of view of a character with only limited knowledge, I, we, the readers, have access to all the knowledge and know that the Misfits proper did nothing to deserve being blown off-stage at their own gig by a pop band, Clash acted without their knowledge and Pizzazz even tried to prevent the Holograms from being chucked out the competition. I think what we’re supposed to feel is two things – happy to see the Holograms triumph and that the Misfits are justified in their continued actions against the Holograms but I’m just not feeling the former. The Misfits aren’t exactly the best of people and Pizzazz doesn’t actually tell Clash off for trying to murder another lead singer, just to make sure it doesn’t come back on the band but the fact remains that for the whole story they haven’t actually done anything to the Holograms other than be pissed off by them – mostly in private. It makes the Holograms look very much like the designated protagonists rather than the actual heroes.      

But overall I like this arc and I’m genuinely enjoying the series, I know I criticize parts of it but that’s kind of the point of this thing, to tell you what I think after reading each issue be that good or bad. The book isn’t flawless but it is really enjoyable with all of the characters being likable and I want to spend more time with them, and given that there’s 10 reoccurring characters (so far, we’re still short a Raya, a Video and an Eric Raymond) that really does say something for both Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell (although I wasn’t that worried in the latter’s case, Campbell already filled an ensemble cast with completely likeable protagonists and antagonists with Wet Moon). I do want more focus on the more fantastic side of stuff and stories that utilize these things more in more creative ways (Synergy’s role in the finale could have been replaced by some clever wiring) and more of a focus on what it’s like for Jerrica re: being Jem, maybe a micro series or some issues focussing on just one character could do this (we’ve gotten some of it in the annual but again I want to see it, not have it be talked about or be a dream metaphor with Teen Wolf). But whatever they do I want the series to continue, now that the film’s bombed (and rightfully so) I’m a little concerned about the comic and the proposed relaunch of the Jem toyline, hopefully they’ll both carry on regardless, I’m happy to read this comic until it reaches Sonic the Hedgehog level numbers and I think it’s good enough to achieve that, and I sure would like one of my favourite 80’s franchises to become Hasbro’s answer to Monster High (though my wallet may not like that so much)       

Anyway read Jem & The Holograms.

David Bowie’s dead…

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