Jem and the Holograms Holiday Special

“Someone should make an animated series out of this,” I found myself thinking, about a third of the way through reading this comic. Yeah; I know. The thought occurred to me because the tone, pacing, and content of Jem and the Holograms Holiday Special reads like a wacky sitcom. Specifically, it fits the brisk and light tone of a Saturday morning cartoon’s Christmas special. This is appropriate. Those of us new to the comic get a very quick and very well done recap. One page, six panels, and very little text. And it explains everything I need to know to catch me up with the series in fairly decent clarity. Then the book properly starts with a bit of character establishment. In the wacky tradition of contrived sitcom wackiness, the plot of the special is kicked off by a Secret Santa scenario. The Misfits -- rivals to the Holograms -- are motivated by petty gamesmanship. Our protagonists -- led by the responsible designated adult Jerrica -- lean into the spirit of being the good guys in all things. And in that way the Holograms are embracing the spirit of the holiday season without the need for heavy-handed moralizing. The idea of spiteful gift-giving is pretty funny and I wish the book lingered a bit on this aspect of the plot. We get brief moments of our antagonistic Secret Santas buying and receiving their presents. The rest mostly feels like filler that is either following up on or leading into surrounding plot threads. As a new reader, that stuff holds little value for me.

Jem_Holiday2015_cvrThe art’s fine. Most of its charm comes from the candy colors popping out of every page. The line art is cute in an aggressive, almost abrasive way.  I did have a little trouble distinguishing characters from one another, but their personalities shone through in their energetic body language.

Your appreciation for some of the dialog will depend on your tolerance for people who say “yiss” instead of “yes” on Twitter and for folks who use extraneous letters for emphasisssss. But this is a kind of youth pandering I can tolerate because it’s not actively idiotic. I think Jem and the Holograms’ biggest problem is that it might be too precious for its own good. At times the writing may be trying a bit too hard to convince us of its cleverness. At its worst there are a few fumbled jokes, but nothing offensively bad. The family dynamic between Jerrica and her siblings is as genuine and warm as the Holograms versus Misfits rivalry is believably silly. Kimber has a particularly grating personality, vacillating between stupid and entirely stupid. The writer saves this character from loathsomeness, however. The one thing grounding her in relatable realism is her absolutely adorable relationship with Stormer of the Misfits. The two of them constantly texting back and forth not only rings true of young love, but serves as a crucial plot point.

I have a weakness for enemy-becomes-ally story arcs. I love watching people turn their foes into friends. That as a basic premise works well as the impetus for a Holiday tale. This book doesn’t deliver on that theme as well as I might’ve hoped but it is fun fluff, and likely a good transitional issue between story arcs.

Score: 4/5

Jem and the Holograms Holiday Special Writer: Kelly Thompson Artist: Amy Mebberson Colorist: M. Victoria Robado Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $3.99 Release Date: 12/16/15 Format: One-Shot; Print/Digital