Jem and the Holograms: IDW 20/20

Writer: Sina Grace
Artist: Siobhan Keenan
Colorist: Cathy Le
Publisher: IDW

Review by Cameron Kieffer

IDW is turning 20 and they’re celebrating this milestone with a weekly event: IDW 20/20!  This initiative includes a series of one-shots for many of the publisher’s licensed properties, and, while this isn’t a crossover in the traditional sense, they all explore similar themes by revealing an untold story of the past (or future).  In this instance, with Jem and the Holograms: IDW 20/20, we’re looking to the future with the truly, truly outrageous Jem and the Holograms.

Fitting into the continuity established in the previous JEM series, this one-shot provides a bleak, yet ultimately optimistic glimpse into the future of Jerrica, Rio, and the rest.  After a falling out between siblings Jerrica and Kimber, the band has broken up, and they’ve all gone their separate ways.  Naturally, a threat arises that requires the girls to reunite and pick up their instruments one last time.  The issue hits a lot of familiar tropes in the getting-the-band-back-together formula, but it’s refreshing to see them involving such iconic characters.

Writer Sina Grace seems to have a lot of love for these characters, although some get more page-time than others.  Besides the titular band, the cast includes Jerrica’s long-time love Rio, antagonistic producer Eric, and one-time rival Pizzazz, along with her band the Misfits.  With this being a one-and-done story, there just isn’t enough room to fully explore certain characters or what they’ve been up to.  Holograms Aja and Raya have only a couple lines of dialogue each, and the eventual confrontation between Jerrica and Kimber lacks the emotional payoff it was building to.

However, there is plenty of fan service (no, not the anime kind) that should appeal to long-time readers, including a sweet moment between Kimber and Stormer of the Misfits.  Grace’s trademark wit is also on display, especially in the dialogue.  He also manages to capture the tone of the previous series and its various one-shots and spin-offs, making this feels like a natural continuation, or even a conclusion as it were.

Artist Siobhan Keenan returns to the universe after a stint in the previous JEM: Dimensions series, and she just absolutely kills it.  Her line work is top notch and her characters have so much personality, both in their expressions and the way she depicts their body language.  She adds just the right amount of frown-lines and wrinkles to show the passage of time without making them look like pathetically-aging popstars.  The girls have aged gracefully and look fantastic.

The Verdict: Buy it!

This one-shot is a lot of fun and nicely balances style and substance.  This is a must-have for readers of the previous Jem and the Hologram comics, although readers who aren’t familiar with the universe may do well to pick up something else.

Cameron Kieffer
Cameron Kieffer wears many hats. He is a freelance writer and artist, creator of the webcomic "Geek Theory" and is co-host of the Nerd Dump podcast. He lives in Topeka with his wife and increasingly growing comic book collection.

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