The Jealousy of Jemma

  • The Jealousy of Jemma–  Mandy:  #601(22 Jul. 1978) – #611 (30 Sep. 1978)
  • Reprinted – Mandy: circa 1989
  • Reprinted (as Mandy Classic) – M&J: #286 (02 Nov. 1996) – #296 (11 Jan. 1997)

Plot

Julie and Jemma Granger are twins, who are extremely close, their parents even remark that sometimes it is like they can read each other’s thoughts. For their 13th birthday they recieve gold lockets, later they exchange lockets and make a vow to each other that they shall never be parted and nobody will come between them. A week later while Julie is in school while the Grangers take Jemma to the dentist, but the car veers off a cliff. Julie instantly senses something wrong. When she hears her parents and Jemma are dead she collapses and lies in a coma for weeks.  When she wakes up she finds her Aunt Mavis and Uncle Roger with their daughter Ruby. Julie has never met them before but they say they will take care of her now and they take her back to her own home which they have moved into.

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The Daces seem kind and friendly, but are secretly just there so they can live in a grand house and use Julie’s inheritance. Weeks later, Mavis pretends to be pleased for Julie when she says she can manage by herself but tells Roger and Ruby they’ll stick around in case she relapses. That night Julie hears Jemma’s voice calling to her reminding her they promised never to be parted. While her relatives try to comfort her, telling her it was just a bad dream, Julie doesn’t believe this. Jemma’s voice returns but Julie is scared she is so possesive now. When an old family friend Mrs Preston visits and when Julie tries to make a friend with Sara a girl she knows from school, Jemma tells her she doesn’t need friends. She even tells Julie her new friend will get hurt if she visits.

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The Dace’s call the doctor and he tells Julie she is over strained and needs rest. Ruby is impatient as she wants the doctor to take Julie away, but Mavis tells her to be patient. At Julie’s insistence they contact a psychic Madame Zenith. She senses two departed people who rest peacefully but she cannot sense any ghost, though she does warn her of evil. Mavis tells Julie the evil she senses must be her illness and Julie begins to believe it’s all in her mind.  Julie goes to hospital and feels safer and secure, while she’s there the Daces are enjoying parties in her home. When Julie begins to wonder why she doesn’t hear voices at the hospital. In order to stop her suspicions,  Ruby sneaks to the hospital and using information from a secret book the twins wrote in convinces Julie it really is Jemma she is hearing.  The Daces bring her home to keep a better eye on her, but soon Julie does some investigating and she finds microphones in the attic. She escapes and visits Mrs. Preston, telling her the story. Together with her lawyer the Daces are plots are revealed and they are arrested. Mrs Preston moves in with Julie and a few weeks later, Julie gets a better surprise when she hears Jemma’s voice again and it turns out she had survived the crash and had been taken by boat to France. So the twins are happily reunited.

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Thoughts

The twins seem overdependent on each other from the start. On their thirteenth birthday they don’t invite anyone else as they don’t really have any other friends. Their parents thinks its great that they are so close and don’t need anyone else, but actually its quite unhealthy! Even when Jemma first gets into the car Jemma already feels lost and alone at school. It’s never good to cut yourself off and depend on only one person. Even without the evil relatives it’s understandably difficult for Julie to cope without any network of friends to help and support her.

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It is surprising to find Jemma alive at the end, although there was a hint when Madame Zenith didn’t sense Jemma’s spirit in the house (either restful or vengeful). There is very little explanation of how she survived or why she hadn’t been in contact before or how the lawyer tracked her down. Perhaps she had been in a coma or had amnesia (a common reason for prolonged absence in these stories) but it is never addressed here. There is a tie in with the real Jemma’s voice sounding kind rather than spiteful, so it works fine. Although I think it could have worked out as a happy ending with Julie just moving on with her life, maybe meeting up with Sara.

After the set up in the first issue of the twins vowing to be together for ever, it wouldn’t have surprised me if the story turned out to be Jemma’s ghost haunting Julie. It might have been better if the writer held off on showing the true colours of her relatives initially. He/she could have build up the creepiness and the mystery of Jemma’s voice. It still works as an interesting story as the relatives drive Julie insane. There has been many stories of devious relatives cooking up schemes to gain inheritances, inflicting psychological damage on their niece is particularly devious. While Roger shows some discomfort over what they are doing, it’s more that he doesn’t like watching Julie’s decline but is happy to reap the benefits. Mavis and Ruby are clearly the brains behind the scheme. The dark tones of the art and the expressions of fear on Julie really help sell the story, it does make it very creepy.

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