Jem and the Holograms had been a popular line of Barbie-esque dolls from Hasbro, produced in the 1980s. The line had a tie-in cartoon series from Sunbow Productions, the company responsible for other Hasbro properties such as G.I. Joe, Transformers, and My Little Pony, as well as shows like Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends and the original Muppet Babies. Even though Jem wasn’t targeted to me as a young boy, it was always like a sister show to a lot of the action cartoons I DID watch.
And the intro theme was, in fact, truly outrageous.
2015 saw the release of a Jem and the Holograms comic from IDW Publishing, which re-launched the franchise from scratch. IDW were also handling comics from other Hasbro properties at the time, such as Transformers, G.I. Joe and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, so one more licensing deal between the two companies probably seemed reasonable enough.
And the comic was great! I bought the first issue to check it out, and after finishing it had the thought of, “aw crap, that was really good! Now I have to buy issue 2.”
And then, over the next three years and change, I bought all of the IDW Jem comics.
I’m in the process of switching from single issues to collected editions, and I realized that not all of the Jem collections are clear about where they happen in the overall chronology of the comic license. So I thought I should do something to help with that.
Easily enough, the first Jem comic to read is Jem and the Holograms vol 1: Showtime. This includes the first six issues, and introduces the Holograms, their rival band the Misfits, Jem’s love interest Rio, and sets the overall tone of the series. Sophie Campbell’s art is gorgeous, and Kelly Thompson’s writing is charming.
Next up is volume 2, Viral, where the Holograms have to deal with becoming a viral success out of nowhere! This volume contains issues 7-10, the 2015 Annual, and the 2015 Holiday Special.
There’s an oversized hardcover, Jem and the Holograms: Outrageous Edition that collects issues 1-10, the 2015 annual, the 2015 Holiday special, AND the 2016 Valentine Special. I think this is the only place to get the Valentine Special, outside of collecting just that issue itself, but I could be mistaken.
An 11×17″ Covers Treasury Edition was released in 2016, collecting SO MANY variant covers. Most of them are by Sophie Campbell, but Amy Mebberson, Jen Bartel, Agnes Garbowska, Artgerm, and more incredible artists have work included in here. I have this book, and seeing all of this beautiful art collected at double-size is, well, outrageous.
A second volume was solicited in 2017, but never actually came out. A true shame, because I would have loved to get all the variant covers in this way.
Volume 3 is next, with the Dark Jem storyline. Do you like ’80s glam rockers all gothed out? Then this is the volume for you! Issues 11-16 are collected here.
Next is volume 4, Enter The Stingers, collecting issues 17-23, and this is where the divergence happens. The Misfits take a backseat as the OTHER rival band, The Stingers, take the stage. This arc also sees Meredith McClaren take over penciling duties, with a DRASTICALLY different art style. McClaren and Kelly Thompson had previously worked together on the independent graphic novel, Heat in a Box, which is apparently what got Thompson the Jem gig in the first place. So it’s nice to see the two creators reunite for several of the issues collected here.
Allegedly, there is a second Truly Outrageous hardcover collection that includes the contents of volumes 3 and 4, but I’ve never actually seen it for sale — Websites that have it ALL have it listed as sold out, and I’ve never seen one pop up on eBay. I suspect, much like the Covers Treasury Edition second volume, it probably got cancelled due to low pre-orders. If you happen to know more about this, let me know in the comments!
At the same time Enter: the Stingers was being published, the Misfits got their own miniseries! Jem and the Holograms: The Misfits: Our Songs Are Better collects the 5-issue series about Pizzazz and company getting their own reality show. You can read either Misfits or Volume 4 first; it literally doesn’t matter, as they happen concurrently, but don’t intrude on each other.
Next up is Jem and the Holograms vol 5: Truly Outrageous. This collects issues 24-26 of the main series, as well as the double-length 2016 Annual. And that was semingly it, until…
2017 brought us Jem: Infinite and Misfits: Infinite, two intertwined 3-issues miniseries that are really just a single 6-issue series with confusing numbering. The trade paperback is just titled Jem and the Holograms: Infinite, which is easy enough. But the single issues need to be read in alternate order. So, Jem 1, Misfits 1, then Jem 2, Misfits 2, Jem 3, and finally Misfits 3. I have no idea why IDW thought this was a good idea, and I’m glad they collected both series in one book.
Finally, Jem and the Holograms: Dimensions was a short-lived anthology series, set after the events of everything else. Each issue had multiple stories by various creative teams, so we got to have a lot of fun that ongoing comics written to be collected don’t normally get to experience due to plot necessity. The graphic novel collects all 4 issues together.
And that’s it! Not TOO difficult, but the order and placement of Misfits, Infinite, and Dimensions isn’t necessarily very clear, and with the Outrageous Edition hardcover, sometimes multiple editions like that can lead to confusion. Hopefully I helped to clear that up!
IDW’s Jem and the Holograms was a fantastic update to a series that I didn’t know I wanted and update for. There’s a total of about 45 issues over 8 trade paperback collecitons, and I’m so glad that we got so much Jem and the Holograms in just a few years’ time.