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A couple months ago, it was announced that IDW's acclaimed Jem and the Holograms ongoing (as well as their Misfits spinoff miniseries) would be coming to an end with its twenty-sixth issue in April, but that there would soon be a continuation that would "change everything" about the Jem comics. Pretty standard comic book claims, but they hold more weight from a publisher like IDW about a title like Jem than, say, from Marvel about Spider-Man. This news was met with mixed reactions and much speculation. The top theory was that the Jem characters were going to be folded fully into IDW's shared Hasbro universe, introduced with their Revolution event from last year and presenting most of their Hasbro properties as existing in the same continuity. Though IDW officials have said that Jem was included in this new continuity status quo and there have been Easter eggs to corroborate this, it was left out of the crossover event and has largely stayed in its own lane due to an inconsistency of tone between it and the other books.

The speculation was put to rest by an announcement at ECCC. The next step for the Jem books won't be integration with the larger Hasbro universe but their very own special event "crossover"* called Infinite. The event will run through two biweekly-published, three-issue miniseries, Jem and the Holograms: Infinite and Jem and the Holograms: The Misfits: Infinite. The story will feature the Holograms and Misfits visiting another dimension and writer Kelly Thompson promises " [...] sci-fi shenanigans, reunions, betrayals, death, destruction, saving the world, and also, of course, music" per her interview with the AV Club.

My feelings about this are... mixed. Heck, my feelings about Jem not being integrated into the Hasbro universe are mixed and have been since the shared universe was announced. I'm not a fan of there being a shared universe in the first place, all told. I deal with shared universes for Marvel and DC because I knew what I was getting into with them-- and even then, their shared universes are largely why I no longer actively follow their books-- but one of the things I enjoyed about the IDW titles I followed was that they stood alone in their corners. On the other hand, so long as this shared universe is a thing, Jem has elements to bring to the table. That the crossover which beget the shared universe thus brings together only IDW's "boys' toys" licenses has rubbed me the wrong way from the beginning even though I'd rather it simply not exist.

Still, I've more or less gotten used to the idea that the shared universe exists and even more or less accepted that the things I really didn't want to happen (namely characters becoming main cast members in other franchises' books) have happened and will continue to happen. Sometimes I don't like things and the world keeps spinning. That's life. So, when the popular thought, which I agreed with, was that Jem was finally getting a seat at the table, my main concern was the aforementioned tone inconsistency. Jem's tone is a big part of what I like about it. There have been times I felt it was a little too light for the plot lines it presented, but I was still drawn to that light. The idea that Jem's tone might get an overhaul to suit the shared universe I already disliked curled my lip, even though part of me was happy to grit my teeth and bear it for the sake of the potential character interactions and sci-fi action shenanigans. I even had some hope that maybe the characters would interact with situations presented by the other books while still doing their own thing and maintaining their own tone. Over in the Transformers corner, after all, MtMtE and RiD each had their own distinctive tone for years while running side-by-side, referencing each other and eventually crossing over. It can work.

Finding out that Jem is getting what looks to be an overhaul in tone while apparently not opening the door for interactions with familiar faces ran me off the road, I admit. On the face of it, I like all of the things Kelly promises are to come from this new direction for Jem. I'm not totally onboard all of them rubbing elbows with Jem, despite my trust in Kelly as a writer. On the face of it, I'm glad Jem isn't being dragged into the spotlight in a shared universe I don't like. But excluding Jem even though they're willing to go harder with the title rubs me ever more wrong. And not getting to see characters I like from different franchises meet even though there are already characters I don't care about in books I care about and characters I care about in books I don't care about is ever more disappointing.

Granted, this event doesn't necessarily mean we're not getting the expected full inclusion ever. We don't know a lot about it or what comes after yet, and the other Hasbro books do include alternate dimensions and everything else coming for Jem, so there may yet be some crossover. It's been suggested that part of the reason for the main title's cancellation is lack of sales, too, and while I'd have expected that to be more reason to include the better sellers in the event, this could be an experiment to see if the new take on Jem can stay afloat before pushing it into the deep end of the pool. I can nod my acknowledgement to that logic. And here I am again, dancing around the shared universe I've complained about since hearing of it.

Whatever way the cookie crumbles, I am excited to see what's in store. Cautiously excited, but excited nonetheless. If the door is being closed on the Jem title, I'm glad that they seem to be doing it on their terms and then crawling out an open window. And if they crawl right into the end of IDW's Jem output altogether, I'm pleased that they look to be going out with a bang.

*It seems weird to me to call it a crossover when the titles being crossed over are Jem and Misfits, the latter of which is a miniseries which spun off of Jem to begin with and whose characters still heavily feature there.  I suppose "crossover" could be referring to the fact that the event is being told across two miniseries, but still. And come to think of it, telling the event across two miniseries when the ongoing was cancelled due to low sales is weird too... I need to stop before I start rambling.

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