“IT’S SHOWTIME, SYNERGY! JERRICA BENTON and her sisters KIMBER, AJA, and SHANA are trying to make it as a band… but JERRICA’s stage fright is holding them back. But when they make a shocking discovery in their father’s secret laboratory, the mysterious SYNERGY changes everything, and JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS are born… just wait till PIZZAZZ and the MISFITS find out they have competition! This beautiful oversized hardcover collects the first 10 issues of the critically acclaimed series, plus the double-length Annual, the Holiday Special, and the Valentine Special!” (via back cover description)
Like everything else Thompson writes, Jem is full of heart, consent, and intersectional feminism. Where other writers might stick to Jem’s glittery, silly surface, Thompson digs deep to get to the truth of experience and the realities of life. She explores what it would really be like to have to maintain two complete personalities when Jerrica has a mini breakdown as she struggles to draw the line between herself and her fictional character. Shana goes through a quarterlife crisis as she figures out who she wants to be and what she wants out of life. When Pizzazz suddenly loses her adoring fans, Thompson peeks behind her iron curtain to see the insecure young woman hiding behind it. And she and her artists are conscientious about portraying a diverse cast. From body shape to personality to gender expression to ethnicity, no two characters are the same. It’s reflective of the real world in an inclusive, earnest, ridiculously fashionable way.
You didn’t think I’d get all the way through this review without squeeing over how fabulously queer it is, did you? Kimber and Stormer’s relationship is a source of ongoing conflict between the bands—they’re basically the Juliet and Juliet of the Holograms and the Misfits. Also, Blaze is trans. When she comes out, no one stops to break it down piece by piece or force her to explain or defend her truth. Sure, she’s insecure about having to tell her new bandmates, but it’s framed as having more to do with her anxious personality rather the band potentially being cruel enough to oust her for being queer (spoilers: they aren’t and they don’t). Most importantly, when artist Sophie Campbell came out as trans after the first issue, IDW went back and replaced her deadname with her new name on all past works. How awesome and supportive is that?…
To read the rest of my review, head over to Tor.com.
Do the world a favor and buy this book from your local comic book store or borrow it from your public library.