Writer- Kelly Thompson
Art and Colors- Amy Mebberson
Art- Arielle Jovellanos
Colors- Josh Burcham
Art- Rebekah Isaacs
Colors- Joana Lafuente
Art and Colors- Jen Bartel
Art and Colors- Agnes Garbowska
Editor- John Barber
I wasn’t too sure about reading Jem and the Holograms Annual #1 when I started looking through the covers. I was only semi-familiar with Jem and the Holograms because of the TV show. It always seemed like an interesting premise, but ultimately kind of boring to a pre-teen that preferred G.I. Joe and Ninja Turtles. So I approached this Annual with a little trepidation, but I had heard an interview with writer Kelly Thompson on a podcast. She seemed cool and really into the material, so the Jem and the Holograms comic was on my radar, and the Annual seemed like a great place to jump in.
I am so glad I did. This book is extremely fun, and does what a good Annual should do, it gives the reader a contained story that is entertaining and has the spirit of what the regular book is. This was a great look into the individuals that make up Jem and the Holograms. Through dreams where they are inserted into their favorite movies we get to explore their deeper thoughts and fears. This book was exactly what I wanted, and I didn’t even know it.
There is an opening story that leads into the four character stories. We start out with the band after a show and they are ready to stay up and hang out. They decide to watch a movie, but can’t decide which one. They all end up falling asleep, and the dreams that follow make up the four stories, with Synergy, their powerful friend that can project complex holograms, leading and guiding them through their stories. The great thing about this story structure is that it makes it an easy read, and engages the reader’s nostalgia. You are invested to see what movie the next character will be in.
Kelly Thompson was masterful with stories of this book. Every story was smartly constructed, letting the narrative of the particular movie meld into and explore the fears the band members are going through, and showing that they are greater as a group than they are individually. This being said, they all project themselves as powerful and strong individuals.
One of the things that is most notable about this Annual is the outstanding creative team, made up almost entirely of woman. This shows that there are women in the industry and that they are capable of reaching and engaging an audience beyond just genre specific material that traditionally would be for a female audience. As a man, I loved every part of this book, and it spoke to me as a person, not just a man or woman. Good art and good writing is not gender specific, and I would love to see more females given the opportunity to get their hands on more varied properties.
The art was also good. I loved the fact that the art in the Angry Aja story was hard-nosed and had just the right amount of grit to it, but was offset by the art in the Shana Wars story where we see a lighter and softer side to the art and color. Across the board the art worked because it didn’t try to fit a certain style, but let the characters lead how it would come about. I would say it was a jazz-style, not flowing together traditionally, but when it was all said and done it was how it should have been and it was satisfying.
I wasn’t prepared to be all-in on this book, but from the start I was hooked and feel in love and related to the characters. This is one of the most enjoyable books I have read in a while and will definitely keep up with Thompson and company as they continue the Jem and the Holograms story…Beyond Thunder-Rotunda!!! Read it. If for no other reason than to get my cool inside joke…I’m serious though, go read it!
Jonathan Winchester is a writer from Dallas, TX where he lives with his wife Maddie and their annoying cat. He believes Han was the lone shooter, that nothing looks better than a silver age comic in Mylar, and that there is no better feeling than walking into a dimly lit movie theater.