Welcome to the first Jem Annual! Ah, I love landmarks like this. Really makes ya feel like things are really off and running, don’t they? Annuals are fun, because they typically give readers a glimpse into how other writers and artists interpret their favorite characters, and the first ever Jem Annual is no exception to that rule. We get four separate stories, one for each Hologram, and one wrap around story to pull it all together. The glue that binds it all together was written by Kelly Thompson, with art and colors by Amy Mebberson. It’s the classic ‘movie night’ scenario, and the Holograms can’t decide what to watch on their night off. In classic style, they all pass out and we get a different dream ‘movie’ from each of the characters.
Jerrica’s dream is up first. Written, drawn, colored and what not by Thompson, Jovellanos, and Burcham, Jerrica is a She-Wolf version of Scott Howard from 1985’s ‘Teen Wolf’. She cuts right to the classic basketball scene from the film in her dream. The team is losing and Aja and Shana are both trying to convince her to let the wolf out. Jerrica’s worried everyone will see her transform, but Kimber informs her everyone already knows. And they do. In fact, the audience is holding up signs cheering for the Jem Wolf and generally going nuts for her alter ego. Encouraged by this, Jerrica turns into Jem Wolf. Of course, all awesome and furry she goes on to score the winning points and the crowd goes wild. It’s all one big metaphor for her very real stage fright and insecurities that she’s only been able to conquer when using the Jem-hologram. Jerrica begins to question if she’s the same person when she’s Jem-Wolf, if it’s really what’s inside that counts after all then why does she even need the wolf?
Worse, her friends and fans all like the Jem Wolf so much, they’re sad to see her transform back to regular old Jerrica Benton. The Wolf is fun and exciting, but Jerrica is just… reliable, dependable… kinda like an old pair of shoes, some would say. They head to the after party/post game celebration and the other Holograms call Jerrica up on stage to sing a song. She wants to try singing as Jerrica, but the other Holograms laugh and remind her she can’t do it without Jem Wolf. Jerrica’s determined to try, though, because she’s got the talent inside her. She IS Jem with or without the Hologram, so why shouldn’t she be able to get up on stage without the wolf? Unfortunately, without the Wolf her stage fright gets the better of her and she chokes. It’s like every nightmare you’ve ever had about getting up and giving a big speech in school, minus the part where she’s standing there in her underwear. Poor Jerrica runs away, fleeing to the deep dark woods where she can be alone…
And we jump into Aja’s dream, which is pure Aja-bad-assery. Angry Aja Beyond Thunder Rotunda, by Thompson, Isaacs, and Lafuente is just great! I mean, it just fits Aja so well! She’s all into cars and motorcycles and stuff, I was super excited to see her speeding through the post apocalyptic desert wasteland.
Her bad ass muscle car runs out of gas in the middle of nowhere, and she hikes into Negotiate Town. The town is totally sketchy, and she instantly knows if she turns her back scavengers will strip her car for parts. She does what any reasonable road warrior would do- she bribes a feral kid to stand guard duty.
I have a feeling she’s done this kinda thing before. Maybe not in the comic, but definitely in the cartoon with all the Starlight Girls running around like wild animals. Anyway, with her car now sorta secure, she sets out on her real mission, but no sooner does she get going does a masked bandit run off with her guitar! Synergy steps in, cuz she’s like the mayor of Negotiate Town or something, and informs them they’ll have to settle things in the Thunder Rotunda!
Quite honestly, I fully believe if the Misfits were to show up in this town that Pizzazz would own it in two seconds flat and she’d become the evil leader of the town, with wicked antics to put even Master Blaster and Tina Turner to shame. Or maybe I just want to see Roxy and Jetta battle it out in the Rotunda. That being said, Aja and the masked villain fight to the near death! The crowd shouts and cheers for Aja to finish her masked foe, but she refuses! Just then, the villain removes the mask, only to reveal… she was Aja all along?! DUH DUH DUH! Well, it’s a dream after all, so why not?! The rest of the Holograms show up, and Aja decides to give away all her worldly possessions to the masked villainous version of herself, cuz she already has all she needs in her best friends. Aw, so sweet! The ride off into the sunset with Aja behind the wheel of a tricked out tanker truck, and everyone is relieved that Kimber is no longer the one driving. Sounds about right!
Meanwhile, Shana is having her own whacky dream. Shana Wars, by Thompson and Bartel, takes us to the opposite end of a galaxy far, far away. She wakes up just in time to realize her star fighter is about to crash land in a rather familiar swamp.
My thoughts exactly, Shana! My thoughts exactly! There she is, all stranded in the stinking swamp. But alone she is not, oh no! Synergy shows up, all wrinkly and cryptic like a certain well known big-eared swamp mystic. Synergy informs her she must eat, but then we cut to Shana toiling over trying to tread a needle. But is it really about threading a needle, or is the trouble she’s having deeper? Synergy knows!
And of course, Shana knows, too. She just needs to slow down and focus and think about what she really wants out of life. She goes into the cave expecting the worse, but sees visions of herself designing clothes for the other Holograms (who are speaking some unintelligible language in the dream world) and at first it seems great but it soon turns bad!
Shana rushes out of the cave and jumps back in her plane. Synergy tries to warn her that if she leaves she’ll never be ready, her training isn’t complete, but Shana has more important places to be! Synergy warns again that if she leaves now Shana will fail her friends. It’s a risk Shana’s willing to take, though. Her friends need her and she’ll stop at nothing to be there for them!
On a sofa nearby, Kimber is having a much fluffier dream. Jem Babies, by Thompson and Garbowska, is as cute as it is insidious. I mean, I read this and a week later the Muppet Babies theme song was STILL stuck in my head! Pure evil! This is definitely my favorite story out of the group for obvious Misfit shaped reasons. (I still can’t believe there were no Misfits in the Thunder Rotunda! They were built for that!) Also, it’s just flat out adorable with heaping spoonfuls of cute thrown in for good measure.
The story opens with toddler Holograms singing their little hearts out!
I told you it was adorable!
The baby Misfits are having none of this goody-goody sing-a-long, though, and quickly shove the Holograms out of the way so they can sing their own song!
Before long war is declared, as is always the way between these two groups! It’s gotta be the cutest stand off of all time, though! So much cute!
Synergy-nanny shows up right in the nick of time to put an end to the feud with a kitten, cuz KITTENS! As if it couldn’t get cuter! The girls all love the little fur ball, and the cat was lucky not to get its spine snapped in a Pizzazz-Kimber tug of war. They bicker over names and finally come up with a truly terrible compromise.
No, not that compromise! Stormer suggests they call the poor creature Miss Gram. Like MISfits and holoGRAM, get it , get it? Awful! But the others all agree. Stormer is playing with the cat and Kimber wants to pet it, too, and its baby love all over. So cute! Did I mention this story is the cutest? Well, it’s awfully cute! Together they come up with the idea to write a song together and serenade Miss Gram, but Stormer is worried that they’ll never get Pizzazz to agree to sing with the Holograms. Kimber has a plan, though!
The cuteness! I also loved this because its the first time we get to see both bands singing together, which was a weirdly common thing in the cartoon. Something else awesome about this story: all the characters are wearing their classic outfits from the cartoon! Ah, it makes my inner super Jem nerd happy!
After all that, Kimber wakes up under the coffee table and finds her sisters are also passed out in the living room. They never got around to watching a movie, but she doesn’t mind. And with that, the first ever annual comes to a close. What a fun issue! This was a great read. I loved that all the stories looked and felt different, but at the same time felt very true to each character. I can’t wait to see what they’ll do for the second annual! (Hopefully it’ll be packed full of Misfits!)