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Comic review

March 11, 2015

Jem fans have had 27 years to get ready for a new interpretation of Jem, and now it is here! Starting with a 20 pages story of issue #1, which is to be released on March 25!


This comic by IDW Publishing, is a co-creative process between two friends, Thompson the writer, and the comic book artist Campbell who gets a story credit aswell. Colors by M. Victoria Robado, letters by Robbie Robbins, and edits by John Barber.

The target audience is 12 and up, and Thompson and Campbell were pretty much given the go ahead to do what they want with this new comic series. They have given the characters a makeover, re-invented part of the concept, and then some. There seems to be a continuation in mind, to build up these characters. Rather than a new story for each issue like the 80's UK comics, and some episodes of the 80's cartoon.

The characters may look more different than ever, but at the same time they look more familiar than ever, with their realistic characteristics.

In the 80's cartoon, the characters needed to look somewhat the same because they depicted dolls of the same shape, which needed to be able to exchange clothing. While of course the 80's animation crew did an outrageous job on giving each character different faces and expressions, so you could easily tell them all apart.

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But this comic takes it a bit further, as far as bodyweight, height, hairstyle, makeup, skincolor, and sexual orientation. And these Jem comics seem like the perfect setting to challenge stereotypical formulas even further. Because already in the 80's Jem challenged Barbie's ridiculous body shape with larger sizes of everything from head, down to her waist and even feet. And Christy Marx infact wanted to make an african-american bad girl in shape of Jetta, already in the 80's, and to make Techrat androgynous.

I love the 80's cartoon version just as it is. But this new comic is an interpretation of it's own and I am totally blown away by it!

Remember that special feeling you had when you first saw an episode of Jem? Me neither! But even today the first episode of the cartoon is very special to rewatch. Although the introduction story became repetitive when retold in all Jem books across the world. I've pretty much read them all. Thompson and Campbell are giving us the chance to see Jem again and wonder what will happen. They cover the background story and some of the main details early on in a conversation between Jerrica and Kimber. Then for the rest of the comic, you're in for discovering Jem all over. You're going to get that same goosebumps of excitement!

And if things like the character designs can change, it probably means we're in for more exciting news...? They can do anything practically!

Infact, changing some of the basics, requires other changes to make it logical. On top of the mentioned changes, Thompson and Campbell, aswell as the released preview pictures, tell us there's a different motive for Jerrica to create Jem, no Rockin' Roadster, Rio prefers Jerrica even more rather than Jem, Starlight girls don't live in Starlight House, Jetta is introduced early, Jem looks alot more different from Jem, and there's a completely different look of their home.

Although the characters are supposed to be pretty much the same ages as in the cartoon, 18-24, they seem a bit younger than in the cartoon. Perhaps it's Sophie's style of drawing. I was going to compare it to anime, but she's got her own unique style.

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Once you see the characters yourself interacting in the comics, you'll see how it all works out. They have done a great job, even on coloring, especially the hair of the characters, aswell as the shading of the bodies and surroundings.

Jem's outfit is a beautiful homage to her iconic 80's dress, and that superlong hair! And did you notice those shoes? I'm curious of what other outfits will appear later, as they only wear one each in this first issue. Hopefully some more of the outrageous 80's designs will appear in some shape. The cover itself obviously reveals another set of outfits though, and two different outfits have been revealed for each member of the Misfits, three for Pizzazz.

As is hinted in the previews, Synergy is included in this first issue. Her new look will knock your starearrings off! I could definitely imagine this Synergy as a doll. She is recognizable but different. I think her cool new style adds to the whole holographic character thing. Slightly changed from Campbell's original fanart of her.

Even the instruments have a different look compared to the 80's which were quite spectacular to begin with, but Campbell dared to change them. I like how the guitars have several colors and shapes on them, like a continuation of their makeup and clothing style.

While this comic is it's own interpration, I can see lots of changes I'd love to keep for future interpretations, like a new doll line or animated series.

Do I even need to mention this new comic is lightyears beyond the 80's UK comics? Artworkwise aswell as storywise. The 80's comics were only based on the first cartoon episode, or a description of it, and had alot of differences from the cartoon. Both Thompson and Campbell watched Jem when growing up, and they had the 65 episodes right in front of them before writing this.

The story of this first issue does include some familiar details which I think an attentive Jem fan will spot. Thompson and Campbell are proving their love for the original Jem and sense for details.

The characters files are included, and at the end is a special letter from Kelly. And some ads for other IDW comics like Transformers, and the next issue of the Jem comic.

Not all characters are introduced already in this first issue though. Rio and The Misfits are not introduced yet. So don't get your hopes up about seeing them all at once. You'll have to buy the upcoming issues aswell. I'm also curious to see whether they will create their own reappearing main characters to fit in the Jem style. Perhaps more male characters? An all male group? And it remains to be seen whether Jem will meet the Angry Birds in a mashup.

And keep and eye out at conventions for several more alternate covers this year!!!!!

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