Comic review Annual
September 29, 2015
The first annual of 40 pages of stories, is released on September 30, with five different covers in total. The artists behind the covers are Agnes Garbowska, Amy Mebberson, Jen Bartel, and Sophie Campbell.
This comic by IDW Publishing, is written by Kelly Thompson, and with art by Ariele Jovellanos, Josh Burcham, Rebekah Isaacs, Joana Lafuente, Jen Bartel, and Agnes Garbowska. Colors by Amy Mebberson, Josh Burcham, Joana Lefuente, Jen Bartel, Agnes Garbowska, Lauren Perry, M. Victoria Robado, letters by Tom B. Long and Shawn Lee, and edits by John Barber.
The exclusive cover by Amy Mebberson for NerdBlock.com reminds me of a Jem 80's commercial, for the Wrist Rock watches.
I like that they call this "annual", which is something they called books released once a year in the UK for certain cartoons, like Jem. No idea if IDW Publishing has been releasing annuals before, but otherwise it's very attentive to think of this for Jem.
This annual was made right between the sixth and seventh issue of the regular comic, but can probably be read anywhere.
Usually I like to investigate changes and developments in characters, and things like that, in the Jem comics. But that's not possible with the stories in this annual, because these stories are not only standalone from the main series, but part of other "universes". First there's a main story, titled "Wired", which is the reality before they fall asleep, and the other stories are written within this one, in the style of Mad Max, Star Wars, and Teen Wolf, and on top of that most of it is written as dreams.
Maybe it's difficult to get the most out of reading these stories if you haven't seen a lot of those original movies and brands. I bet there are a number of fun and clever references I would had loved to take part of.
But as for entertainment it's as fun as usual, and great art done by different artists. And you will still recognize the characters which have mostly the same characteristics, except the rules are thrown around a bit. Something fun about these stories is that Synergy has a new look for each of them. Although Jem herself is less featured in this comic.
I would compare these stories to the standalone episodes of the cartoon, when the band would do something out of the ordinary for just one story. The fun part of doing this kind of thing, straying temporarily off the main story, is seeing the characters in other, more playful, situations. I think it also does good for the main stories, by loosening up the tension of all ongoing conflicts.
As for the last story, it is the only story that differs from the others by not being about other brands and not excluding the Misfits, but are about the main characters as baby-versions. And this story is leaning more towards comedy than ever, with a manga look.
So let's look more at the inside. In the main story, Jerrica and the Holograms are getting sleepy after putting on a show, but decide to watch a movie on Webflix, which is apparently Synergy's own way of getting any movie in the world for the girls. But they can't agree on genre, and fall asleep.
Mebberson gives us some recognizable outfits from the 80's cartoon which is nice to see, even if it's not glamorous ones. I for one love references to the 80's cartoon, and have been looking forward to more of the 80's fashions.
As for the dream-stories, since these are meant to be their actual dreams, they fit into the actual main storylines still, in a way, showing some of their deep thoughts and fears.
First dream-story "Jem Wolf", obviously based on Teen Wolf, a series based on an 80's movie with Michael J. Fox. Here drawn by Ariele Jovellanos and Josh Burcham.
When Kimber shows up here, I thought they included Jem as a different character in the same scene as Jerrica. But that is Kimber! Perhaps it helps if you know that in advance, or perhaps you are not as stupid as me, or her hair is actually red in the actual print.
Feels like a very deep side of Jerrica is revealed in this story, and how she looks at her self and her abilites and why she created Jem.
"Angry Aja - Beyond Thunder-rotunda" must be the funniest of the titles, and the coolness of it fits Aja's style. Drawn by Rebekah Isaacs and Joana Lafuente.
Wow I want to see more of the artists who did this story! Such beautiful styles, and cool surroundings, amazing looking Synergy. Nice Tina Turner reference.
But who is that girl Aja is fighting? I don't get it. I must have missed something in the series or maybe I need to see the Mad Max movies.
"Shana Wars" is obviously based on Star Wars. Drawn by Jen Bartel. Bartel did every single frame as if it was a high quality comic cover, must have taken ages to finish the art for this story.
This is the only one of the stories that was secret. Because it's the only one not featured on a cover. Such a funny Synergy in this one. But you will need to learn another language to read parts of this, and sorry Google Translate won't help you.
The fourth story, "Jem Babies", drawn by Agnes Garbowska. I thought I would just think this story was silly, but it's funny!
Like in a typical girlstory there's a pet, a cat named miss Gram, read the story to find out what she was named after. And we get the first duet of the groups of this comic series.
After the four stories, it goes back to the first story set in their actual reality, and I get a feeling Synergy had something to do with their dreams.
John Barber gives some very nice compliments to us Jem fans. And incase you got attached to any of the ways of drawing Jem, at the end is some information where you can see more of that artist in other series. This was something I started thinking about while reading these stories, wondering what else they have done. Thinking perhaps some of them have even done stories similar to the ones they portray in this annual.
Infact I would like a mash-up with the Transformers even more than the brands chosen in this annual, aswell as maybe G.I. Joe and My Little Pony.
IDW Publishing has the rights to several of those characters after all. But then again, the brands featured in this annual are very current brands that will perhaps spark more interest in Jem. It was probably clever of Thompson to make these connections, making a link to those brands. And who knows what fan-connections can do for the Jem brand. This site for example, is linked from other brands websites, just because there are references to Jem in them.
This annual does a fantastic job showing how these characters would look great in different kinds of storylines, and it gives me a lot of faith in the rest of this series.