Showing posts with label Kelly Thompson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kelly Thompson. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Jem and The Holograms Dark Jem by Kelly Thompson, Sophie Campbell, M Victoria Robado

Rating: WARTY!

Back in mid-September of 2015, I favorably reviewed the debut graphic novel in this series by the same author, Kelly Thompson who also wrote a Marvel Jessica Jones graphic novel that I favorably reviewed this very month, but I can't do the same for this one which was confusingly written and told a really scrappy story. The artwork, drawn by Campbell and brilliantly colored by Robado was fine, but the story let it all down.

The story was what attracted me - how can you not want to read one titled 'Dark Jem'? really? The basis of this goes back to when Jerrica's father programmed Synergy - a device which could project animated holograms onto people to disguise their features, and this gave the confidence-lacking Jerrica the courage to appear on stage and brought her this great success. The problem is - we learn here - that there was a flaw in that programming which their dad could not get out, and now that issue has come back to bug them as it were, as the program itself projects a new version of the holograms - a goth metal band which can infect listeners with some sort of ear-worm turning them into mindless zombies.

Jerrica and the crew figure this out of course, but they also have to figure out how to beat it. Unfortunately, the story fell apart at around this same point and never got it back together, not even having a real ending. There was an interesting transgender character who came to audition for the band early in the story when lead (and only!) singer "Pizz" (that sounded too much like 'piss' for my taste!) partially lost her voice after an accident, but she disappeared without any fanfare about two-thirds the way through the story and Mz Pizz magically reappeared with the same lack of fanfare, and story just fizzled out at that point. It was nowhere near a patch on the original I read and was very unsatisfactory. I can't commend this as a worthy read.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Jessica Jones Blind Spot by Kelly Thompson, Mattia de Iulis, Marcio Takara, Rachelle Rosenberg

Rating: WORTHY!

I've been almost, but not quite, universally disappointed when I've back-tracked from a movie or TV show to the graphic novel version. The last disappointment was Captain Marvel which I took a look at before I went to see the movie. The movie turned out to be probably my favorite movie of all time. The graphic novels far from it. So you can see how I might honestly fear taking that step this time, but having watched season three (and probably the last - at least on Netflix) of Jessica Jones, and really enjoying the whole show - far more than the other three in the defenders quartet, what can I say? I was jonesing for more (yes, I went there!).

So I pulled this edition out of the library and gave it a chance. I'm glad I did because when I took a look at it, I was pleasantly surprised for once. This was a good solid story - very much a murder mystery (with a few twists along the way) and though I figured out what was going on before it was revealed, which is unusual for me in this kind of story, I really enjoyed reading it, so Kudos to writer Thompson for restoring my faith in comic book writers! Kudos also to artists and colorists Iulis, Takara, and Rosenberg.

It's nice to read a graphic novel which doesn't sexualize the female characters (except for in this one scene, but I decided to let that slide). Jessica Jones needs no sexualization because she is sexy as hell from her can-do attitude, her smarts, her never-say-die approach (which was severely tested here - LOL!), and her sharp wits. All of that was on display this story, and it beats any improbably pneumatic super hero "girl" any time in my book - and evidently in this crew's book too, I'm happy to report. That said I could have done without the ridiculous birthday party garbage added as a short story filler in back of this graphic novel. It sucked and was painfully stupid. And no, it wasn't about Iron Fist.

The main story begins with Jessica finding a corpse in her office, and it turns out to be a woman who came to Jessica for help some time before, and then who disappeared, leaving Jessica with a 'pebble in her shoe' feeling of failure. She resolves - after being arrested for the murder, and then freed by Matt Murdoch - that she will solve the woman's murder as a professional curtesy to try and alleviate her failure in the Dia Sloane case to begin with. Just like in season three of the TV show, Jessica finds herself on the trail of a serial killer, but this one is targeting supers - good or bad, but all female. His first target is Jessica. You'll have to read this to see how that goes.

One thing I don't like about too many Marvel comics I've read recently is the inexplicable need writers seem to feel to drag in every single Marvel name they can find. It's pathetic and I was sorry to see that Thompson failed to skip that. This brings me to a pet beef about Marvel - particularly with New York City. I don't get why every super in the Marvel pantheon lives in New York City. Stan Lee said it was because you write what you know. I don't buy that as an excuse, but given that, the logical outcome is that NYC ought to be the most crime-free city on the entire planet - and clearly it isn't.

Worse than this, Jessica seems to get zero help from any of these supers in solving this case - a case where she herself came close to death. She has visits from Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Misty Knight, Doctor Strange, who is more like my parodied Doctor Deranged in this book, Elsa Bloodstone and others, and not a one of them lifts a finger to help her. What's up with that? So while this came clsoe to failing me, it held up well enough and for long enough that I consider it a rare worthy comic-book read.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Jem and the Holograms: Showtime by Kelly Thompson

Rating: WORTHY!

This is a graphic novel based on an animated TV series which ran from the mid to late eighties (the TV show was titled simply Jem). There's also a movie release (October 2015) which has created some controversy about faithfulness to the original. Jem is the alter ego of Jerrica Benton. When Jerrica's father died, he left her a prototype entertainment studio named Synergy, run by an AI which has remarkable powers, particularly that of projecting holograms. Somehow it can also project these onto people to make them look different or augmented. Jem, who has been suffering chronic performance anxiety, finds that she can use a pair of star earrings, which facilitate her holographic makeover, and disguised as Jem, she can perform with her band.

The fly in the ointment is The Misfits - a rival, rather unscrupulous band, which runs a contest "The Misfits Vs." - whoever wants to challenge them in a battle of the bands. They've apparently been singularly successful in fending off all challenges, but now Jem wants to take them on, and the Misfits want to sabotage Jem because she's the first real rival they've faced.

Jem's band consists of her tall and willowy sister, Kimber Benton, her younger 'sister' Aja Leith, who writes their material and plays keyboards (a 'Keytar'), and Shana Elmsford, who plays drums. In the cartoon series, Jerrica and her band-mates live in a large house which is also a home to several orphaned children. All of that is excluded from this graphic version. Also there's none of the struggle for ownership of Starlight Records and contingent band showdown. Other than that, it's very similar in most ways.

One significant and very welcome difference in the graphic novel is the diversity and acceptance brought to the characters. There's more racial variation, and more body image variation in the graphic novel than in the cartoon series and (I strongly suspect) in the movie version. The graphic novel illustrator isn't afraid to depict women who are outside the tragic norm of skinny waif that's unfortunately so dominant these days. Some members in both bands are shown to be what might be termed big bodied women (BBW) or large boned as some people call it.

Note that I use these terms in differentiation to them being described as 'overweight' or 'fat', which these characters were not. So kudos for showing some diversity of body type as well as race. You tend not to find that, even in graphic novels, unless it has some bearing on the story being related. In this case, they were just people! There was no commentary, no point to be made, and the story had nothing to do with exactly how they looked, which was very refreshing.

The misfits are pretty much the same as the cartoon: Pizzazz (Phyllis Gabor in the original), Roxy (Roxanne Pelligrini in the original), and Storm (Mary Phillips in the original), the song-writer who becomes very close friends with Kimber, despite the friction between the bands. Jetta (Sheila Burns)???

Overall, I liked the mood and tone of the story, and the "girlie pink" color scheme which paralleled the original cartoon series. I think the story was enjoyable and good fun, and I recommend this if you were a fan of the original series, or if you're into some light and playful storytelling and good graphics, or even if you're just Jem-ing for the movie and need something to "take the edge off" in the meantime!