Jerrica Benton is a young singer living with her three sisters—Kimber, Aja, and Shana. They're in a band named "The Holograms" however Jerrica has issues with Performance Anxiety. This is getting in the way of them entering the "Misfits VS!" band competition. One day during a storm, Jerrica meets Synergy, a holographic supercomputer her recently deceased father built, who accidentally booted up thanks to a lightning strike. Synergy tells Jerrica that her father had a birthday present for her that he couldn't give to her. The present is a pair of star-shaped earrings with holographic projectors built in. Jerrica decides the best way to deal with her anxiety issues is to create an alter ego: Jem. Alongside Jem And The Holograms is another band, The Misfits. They're hosting a band competition where the winner wins a contract. The Misfits don't get along with The Holograms — with the exception of Stormer, who ends up dating Kimber, and even she isn't above spats with her sisters — and the rivalry between the two bands is a major plot point.
The comic is not related to the film that was released in the same year. They're based on the same property but were developed individually.
Much like the My Little Pony titles, it wasn't part of IDW's Revolution Mega Crossover between most of Hasbro's IDW titles (or any further crossovers), but IDW's staff did consider it to be part of the Hasbro Comic Universe in Broad Strokes — so there were some occasional references (Ian Noble has a Misfits poster in his room, GI Joe's Rock N Roll was apparently once a roadie for the Holograms, etc.) It was also later announced that the Misfits would be getting their own spinoff title as well.
The main series ended with issue 26, and had four special issues (two "annuals", one holiday special, and one Valentine's Day special). The Misfits solo series ended with issue 5. They were followed by a six-issue series called Jem and the Holograms: Infinite, in which the Holograms and Misfits traveled to an alternate universe. Following all these were a series of short-story collections, known collectively as "Dimensions". The fourth, published in February 2018, is planned to be the last issue and no new continuation of the story has been announced. In late 2018, the shared Hasbro Comic Universe was discontinued and many of its comics were cancelled or rebooted.
In January 2019, IDW released their 20/20 event, which saw many of their popular comics given one-shots set 20 years in the future or past. Jem and the Holograms 20/20 saw the now middle aged main cast attempting to put on a reunion concert. It's unknown whether or not this was meant to serve as the epilogue to the series or was set in an alternate future like the other 20/20 one-shots.
Jem and the Holograms contains examples of:
- Abandoned Catchphrase: Kimber doesn't say "Outrageous" like she did in the Jem cartoon — possibly because it's now more associated with Aquaman's appearances in Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
- Adaptational Diversity: The reboot comics are this compared to the 1980s cartoon. The original cartoon had body type limitations largely due to it being a Merchandise-Driven cartoon for a doll line, but the comic doesn't have this restriction, so characters have a wide range of body types. Various characters are also given Race Lifts and there are more explicitly queer characters than in the source (for example, Stormer and Kimber do away with their Pseudo-Romantic Friendship and become a straight-up couple).
- Adaptational Jerkass:
- The Misfits are still the antagonists and still not nice girls (except Stormer), but it's slyly demonstrated that each of the band stands solely on their own. Pizzazz's temper is even worse, and feels she literally cannot trust anyone in her life. Roxy and Jetta aren't down each other's throats anymore, but they'd just as easily laugh if one was the butt of a joke. Pizzazz, Roxy, and Jetta still gang up on Stormer, but Stormer is actually more likely to snark back at them, insult them and even scream at them, unafraid to stand up to even Pizzazz. Clash in the cartoon also wouldn't have tried to seriously injure, or outright murder, Jem like that.
- At the same time though, this in inverted as their softer sides and Hidden Depths are more present. Jetta went from the Token Evil Teammate to being calm and relatively nice (especially towards Roxy, who she's best friend with in the comics but is enemies with in the cartoon). A lot more emphasis goes into giving Pizzazz's Hidden Depths focus. She has a lot more moments of sincerity, happiness, and vulnerability. In one issue she actually listens to Stormer's wants to do a ballad and ends the issue on a middle ground. She'll allow a ballad on the next album, not the current one. In the cartoon scene that was inspired by Pizzazz outright just shredded the lyrics because she doesn't like "soft" songs.
- Adaptational Mundanity: The comic downplays the more wackier aspects of the characters and series. For example, in the Jem cartoon, The Misfits routinely did things that should end up with them in jail or with various restraining orders, however they rarely got their just desserts. In the comic their Jerkass natures are on a more realistic level where they don't crash parties and disrupt the peace on an episodic basis. The characters hair colors are also implied to be dyed rather than natural. The comics tone down the more cartoony aspects of the cartoon and give the characters more realistic depth.
- Adaptational Sexuality: Kimber and Stormer are now lesbians and dating each other. Aja is said to be bisexual.
- Adapted Out: Danse, Astral and Eric Raymond's henchman Zipper never appear in this continuity.
- Anachronism Stew: A number of elements suggest it's the 21st century (laptops, internet, smart phones, Twitter, bathing suit weather in January), but everyone's still wearing the same gaudy day-glo fashions and have the same big neon hair they did at the height of the 1980's. Then again, it wouldn't be Jem without all that. It helps that such fashion along with vinyl records are gaining popularity again.
- Anime Hair: All over the place! The hair colors and ever-changing hair styles utilized by the female characters are very eye catching. Special mention go to Pizzazz, Kimber, Stormer and Blaze, as their hair seems to grow longer or shorter in a matter of hours to vary their hair styles even more.
- Animesque: The art style is mainly western but occasionally manga-esque expressions and movements pop up.
- Ascended Extra:
- Much more emphasis is put on portraying Synergy as an actual character instead of a plot device. She appears more often in humanoid form as well.
- Techrat has a bigger role than he did in the cartoon. He appears more often and is essentially Eric's right hand man.
- Craig appeared in under five episodes of the cartoon but is a recurring character in the comics. He isn't even referred to as Stormer's brother until several issues in.
- Ascended Fangirl: Blaze was a fan of The Misfits, enough that she has a tattoo of their logo and during Dark Jem joins the band
- Bookcase Passage: Emmett has one that can be activated by punching a code into the jukebox in his office. The first time she sees it, Kimber even asks if he was a superhero.
- Christmas Episode: There is a Holiday Issue where the Misfits end up having to play Secret Santa to Jem and the Holograms, and vice versa.
- Dating Catwoman: Kimber and Stormer are an Official Couple, but at the same time neither's planning to leave their rival bands over the relationship.
- Day in the Limelight: Issue #10, aptly titled Rio Pacheo, Boy Reporter, focuses mostly on Rio.
- Dead Alternate Counterpart: The Infinite miniseries involves Jem and the Holograms and the Misfits visiting an alternate reality where their counterparts have been killed, though Kimber, Stormer and Pizzazz are later revealed to have survived the attempts on their lives. The trope is also inverted by having Emmett Benton still alive in this alternate universe.
- Demoted to Extra:
- Ba Nee, Ashley, and the other Starlight Girls still appear, but where in the cartoon they were orphans who lived at a foster home run by Jerrica, here they are simply kids who frequent the Starlight Community Center and receive music lessons. As such they have much smaller roles in the comic than they did in the cartoon, most often they're little more than cameos. They do get A Day in the Limelight once in a while, though.
- Meta-wise, the series itself is this for the larger Hasbro Comic Universe.
- Dramatic Stutter: A traumatized variant. Jerrica has a stutter after she's shocked out of her glitched Synergy trance by Rio getting angry at Jem for kissing him. Having a breakdown and passing out in an alleyway probably contributed to it.
- Driven to Suicide: Powerfully subverted with Pizzazz. In issue 14 she's at her lowest: alone, traumatized, replaced by another singer. She phones her dad, but he's as uncaring as ever. The page ends with her saying: "I can't live like this..." Followed by "...I have to do something" on the flip page.
- Early-Bird Cameo: The Stingers appear in a poster in Aja's room. They appear in person at the end of issue 16.
- Everybody's Dead, Dave: Infinite has the main characters visit an alternate universe where every Hologram and Misfit has been killed except Kimber and Stormer... and Pizzazz.
- Evil Costume Switch: As a part of the "Dark Jem" arc, the band switches to a darker color palette. They borderline parody the trope in how their costumes contrast to their normal ones and how Darker and Edgier they are.
Fortune Teller: This Misfits person...She could be represented by reversed Queen Of Cups in the obstacle position. Perhaps a once kind woman who has turned against you, turned into a control freak? Perhaps she felt threatened?
- In issue 7, Kimber tells Synergy that she looks a little like her mother.
- The Valentine's Issue while technically being out of canon it actually has some clever foreshadowing to the Dark Jem arc in the Tarot reading Kimber gets.
- Gray Rain of Depression: It starts raining after Kimber and Jerrica have a discussion on how they don't have any more tries left to finish their video for the contest.
- Grand Finale: Issue 26 was the final issue of the run, with no subsequent attempts at relaunching the series since.
- Halloween Episode: The Misfits attempt to crash Jem's party, with emphasis on "attempt".
- Important Haircut: Usually when Aja gets one, it's a sign she's about to dump her current lover. It turns out she's always done it subconsciously and only realizes when her sisters tease her about it. The example we're shown is an aversion, she's perfectly happy with her current boyfriend.
- Lighter and Softer: Compared to all the other titles in the Hasbro Comic Universe.
- Locked Out of the Loop: Meta example: given their non-involvement with Revolution, the events of the comic weren't affected by the various developments occurring in other Hasbro books at the time.
- Meet Cute:
Craig: You okay?
- Between Kimber and Stormer in issue #2, when Kimber shows up for a Misfits in-store album signing, where all the Misfits except Stormer bailed. Kimber's been a fan of Stormer for a while, and Stormer has been reading Kimber's blog, but this is the first time they meet in person. They almost immediately begin flirting with each other, and they have coffee together. It gets interrupted by a furious Pizzazz who doesn't want Stormer "fraternizing with the enemy," but this doesn't stop the two from eventually ending up in a relationship.
- Meet Cutes must run in both Kimber's and Stormer's families, because Aja and Craig get one in issue #5 when they literally run into each other at the Battle of the Bands festival — Aja couldn't see where she was going because she was carrying a huge Sunset Shimmer plushie. As they pick themselves up from the ground, they have this brief conversation:
Aja: Yes. You?
Craig: Well, I light be hallucinating, Are you holding a really huge stuffed horse?
Aja: No. This is a really huge stuffed unicorn. C'mon, dude, know your basic fantasy creatures.
Craig: (laughs) Can I buy you one of thise funnel cakes as large as your head?
- Mind-Control Eyes: People under Silcia's control gain dull, golden eyes.
- Mythology Gag:
- In issue #2 Kimber admits to having a new crush, which is nothing new for her according to the other Holograms. This is like the cartoon where she'd have a new crush almost every episode. The only difference is due to Adaptational Sexuality she's girl crazy instead of guy crazy.
- In Issue #6, the Misfits of the comic books ride on guitar-shape motorycle like their cartoons copies did in the first episode.
- Rio kicks over a flower pot in issue 10, as he did in the original cartoon episode "Glitter and Gold".
- Jerrica and her sisters own a box of "Healthy Cereal" from the cartoon. Roxy eats "Candy Coated Zips" cereal, which is also from the cartoon.
- Raya put "Jerrica Benton is Jem" as a question just like her cartoon double.
- The variant cover for #25 shows an Imagine Spot where Rapture and Minx leave Kimber Bound and Gagged inside a volcano. Something similar happened in the episode "Hot Time in Hawaii".
- In the issue of the "Jem: The Misfits" focusing on Stormer, past Stormer is singing "Makin' Mischief" — one of the song from cartoon version of the Misfits.
- Not His Sled: Unlike in the cartoon, Rio is not attracted to Jem. He doesn't even like her at first. When Jem kisses him he shrinks away and calls her out on it.
- Oh, Crap!: Pizzazz and the Misfits, minus Stormer have an EPIC one in Issue 23 when they fill a cake with fireworks to sabotage the party that Jem and the Holograms are performing at. The moment occurs when the explosion is much larger than expected and Pizzazz realizes that Roxy used a hundred fireworks rather than the asked for 'handful'. To say that the party was wrecked would be an understatement.
- Out Sick: In one arc, Pizzazz is unable to sing due to injuring her larynx in a car accident. They use Blaze for a substitute.
- Reality Show: The central premise of the Misfits spin-off, the band reluctantly participates in a reality TV show in an attempt to rebuild their tattered reputation.
- Retool: After 26 issues of grounded, relatively real-world music industry drama, the Infinite limited series plays up the franchise's sci-fi aspects by featuring a dystopian parallel world where Synergy used as an instrument of control.
- Rotten Rock & Roll:
- The titular band is a pop band while the rival band The Misfits is a metal band. The Misfits aren't "evil" but they're the antagonists and are less friendly than Jerrica's bandmates.
- A straighter example would be either the brainwashed Jem and the Holograms while under the influence of Silica, or the new band Silica creates to spread her virus. Despite the individuals being decent people, they're being used to spread evil through metal.
- Shared Universe: While they were in theory part of the then-current Hasbro Comic Universe, their interactions with it were minimal outside of the occasional Shout-Out.
- Setting Update: From the late 1980s to the mid 2010s.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic references popped up frequently. So far Jerrica owns a plushie of Rainbow Dash, Aja has a Sunset Shimmer one, and Kimber has a Rainbow Dash onesie.
- The vendor that gives Aja her Sunset Shimmer doll is wearing a shirt with the logo for Cobra on it. (This later became a minor Continuity Snarl when the Hasbro Comic Universe was announced.)
- Kimber wonders if her father was a superhero like Iron Man after finding out about Synergy and his secret passageway.
- Pizzazz owns a Playstation 4.
- The annual has several dreams that are Whole Plot References: Teen Wolf (Jerrica), Mad Max (Aja), and Star Wars (Shana).
- Kyisha from Shadoweyes appears in the background of one issue.
- Issue 11 features a cameo from a woman who looks way too much like a humanized version of Fluttershy from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic to be unintentional.
- Cleo from Wetmoon appears in autograph signing of number 2.
- Rio wears a suit and has a hairstyle for a few issues that bear more than a passing resemble to the main character of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.
- In the Misfits spin-off Pizzazz is seen wearing a band t-shirt for "She Likes Cloth".
- Cold Slither (a band previously established to exist in the Hasbro Comic Universe) was apparently booked for a festival.
- Sickbed Smuggling: After Pizzazz's car accident, the rest of The Misfits manage to smuggle in while visiting her in the hospital her beloved Siamese cat, Madmartigan, to her joy.
- Stealth Pun: A pretty subtle one with Blaze's name. Clash was of course in the original cartoon, but in this comic we discover that she has a friend named Blaze. Clash and Blaze = Crash and burn.
- Take That, Audience!: One issue of the Misfits spin-off has a television executive wanting Stormer to lose weight as part of an arc for the Reality Show they're participating in. Stormer refuses to do so point-blank and Pizzaz refuses to participate unless they take Stormer as-is. This is after flashbacks showing Stormer has spent a lifetime getting picked on for her weight and Pizzaz telling her to ignore anyone who asks her to lose weight. It's easy to read the story as the staff hearing the complaints about Stormer's weight from readers and refusing to change it. Interestingly, she rather frustratedly blocks someone who supports her endeavors as well, which could be a Take That! towards people who viewed Stormer's entire character through her body issues.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Silcia's music makes people become apathetic and uncaring.
- Valentine's Day Episode: There is a Valentine's Day-themed oneshot where Kimber attempts to use a potion to make the Misfits nicer, but instead ends up making the Misfits as well as Jem and the Holograms fall in love with random people.
- Wham Episode: Issue 9 has Pizzazz getting into a bad car accident and the viewer learning Synergy is glitched.
- Wham Line: Issue 9: "We don't have to do anything... Because there's something wrong with it." Techrat says this to Eric about how something is wrong with Synergy. Issue 24 has one for the entire franchise Where Jerrica transforms into Jem in front of Rio "I'm Jem."
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- In issue 25, Riot (recently dumped by Jem) comforts Jerrica over being dumped by Rio — and suggests that the two of them date, to drive their exes nuts. The scene cuts away before Jerrica replies, and the conversation is never mentioned again.
- Blaze is conspicuously absent in the 20/20 oneshot in spite of every other member of the Misfits being accounted for. She did hint in the Misfits miniseries that she wanted to eventually try out a solo career, so that may be a possible explanation, but nothing is confirmed.