Jem: The Misfits #2
I’m late talking about this — issue #3 of the Jem: The Misfits is already out — but I keep coming back to this issue and being struck by the honesty of the struggle it portrays.
The Misfits, after various schemes and shenanigans, have been dropped by their record label, so the next best option open to them (and it isn’t good) is to film a reality show. The band is staying in Pizzazz’s beach house, surrounded by cameras.
The format allows writer Kelly Thompson and artist Jenn St-Onge to focus each issue on one band member at a time. The first established the premise and showed us how the band came together, with a brief look at Pizzazz’s “poor little rich girl” background, where she had money but no affection. Instead of a stereotypical villain antagonist for the main characters (Jem and the Holograms), here, we see how Pizzazz has had to be strong and angry to navigate through the challenging world of music.
Jem: The Misfits #2 is all about Stormer. She’s a fan-favorite, particularly in the comic series, where her relationship with the Holograms’ Kimber has (as one slimy TV marketing guy puts it) “a very Romeo and Juliet vibe that people really respond to.” However, that’s not the reason she’s leery of this reality TV show setup and being on camera all the time.
Stormer is not skinny. This means people feel they can comment on her weight and appearance without any thought to her as a person. Fearless Pizzazz tries to protect her from idiots yelling “whale” at the stage, but Pizzazz doesn’t have to live in that body, doesn’t have to cope with the insults every day.
Thompson has a scene showing how scripted these supposedly real TV shows are, with producers trying to craft a weight loss storyline for Stormer as a sponsored promotional opportunity. This makes for a stunning conversation between Stormer and Pizzazz as Stormer explains what the reality of her life is like.
Visually, this scene became even more powerful since Stormer is drawn as beautiful and vibrant. As a character, she’s a quiet, loving person. To my eye, the other characters look too skinny in comparison, which made her statements all the more affecting. Plus, it demonstrates the power of visual design, and how much an artist can contribute to a story like this one.
I really liked this issue for driving empathy with another kind of life. It’s a terrific example of how familiar characters can be used to tell great stories with resonance.
(The author provided a digital review copy.)