If this is your first review about anything Lumberjanes, first of all: I’m flattered. Secondly, there are scads of reviews covering issues #1-11. OK, ok: I can give you a quick rundown. I don’t mind, really.
Alright, so the (back)story goes like this:
I had a vague knowledge of Lumberjanes when it debuted (I enjoy most of the stuff Boom! puts out, even if I don’t follow all of it religiously). On a whim, I joined Scribd, an online subscription service for books, audio books, and comic books (I’m coming back around, bear with me.) One of the titles I added was Lumberjanes: the cover was wonderfully done by Noelle Stevenson (who also writes the book and helped design the characters.) The cover was nothing flashy: 6 females among a patch of tree stumps. “Well, this could be *anything*.” I thought to myself, but that didn’t stop me from checking it out.
I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, but this is the topper to this portion of the back story:
I had unknowingly started issue 7 instead of #1 (which wasn’t available on Scribd at the time). I was halfway through the issue before I realized my mistake, but here’s the thing: it didn’t matter.
I was already so enthralled by the characters and the writing that I picked up on things contextually. That, to me, is some solid writing. So, already: big kudos to Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis.
The book revolves around 5 female scouts (Ripley, Mal, Molly, April, and Jo) that belong to Roanoke Cabin at “Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types” and their adventures in the surrounding area.
Once I found my way to issue 1, I second-guessed myself that there may be an issue #0 I missed because the book essentially drops you into a “cold open” with the 5 girls from Roanoke Cabin already tussling with, and ultimately defeating, some supernatural-looking foxes – actual, red foxes. This starts a chain-reaction of mystery and supernatural aspects (including an elderly woman that turns into a bear, aptly named “Bear Woman” thereafter) that the girls take upon themselves to solve. Jen is their slightly high-strung scout-leader of the cabin, which the girls regularly evade in order to move on to the next clue. Rosie is the camp’s scout-master who seems to know more about the camp’s mysterious goings-on than she tells.
Aside from the fantastic movie references (Jurassic Park, Aliens, and Die Hard), references to some amazing female pioneers in *every* field from music (“What in the Joan Jett are you doing?”) to astronauts (“Holy Mae Jamison!”), the girls of Roanoke Cabin are also knowledgeable in the scientific names for the local flora as well as the Fibonacci sequence, all of which helps them on their quest to figure out just “what the junk” is going on around the camp. The issues even end with a “mixtape” of songs put together by one of the girls.
So, Issue 12 is the 3rd part in a small arc: It’s a “Free Day” at Camp and the girls can do whatever they want. April, Jo, and Ripley swore not to go on any crazy adventures or destroy any supernatural forces until Mal and Molly have returned from their picnic together. So, the 3 attempt to earn some of the more “mundane” badges while they wait (to humorous results). Mal & Molly, meanwhile, have their picnic cut short when they witness the Bear Woman wander past their clearing. They follow her and find themselves in an alternate dimension populated by dinosaurs and carnivorous plants. The issue (and the arc) works as a catch-your-breath reprieve to the standard “constant running/jumping/fighting” when there’s a big bad to take down. I also noticed something enjoyable in the dynamic of characters: although Bubbles is Molly’s raccoon (that she was wearing as a hat for a while), the interactions between Ripley and Bubbles seem to serve much more entertaining results (Watch the two try to ice a cake to earn their “Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fondant” badge).
This whole series was only meant to be an 8-issue run, but got extended due to positive sales and reception. (We really do need more groups of kick-ass, female leads.) The writing might have slowed for the moment, but it has far from faltered. With Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Watters paired with Carolyn Nowak’s illustrations and Maarta Laiho’s colors, the crew continues to deliver exciting, engaging, and endearing stories following the Roanoke group. Even on their “Free Day”, they tend to take the day by the horns and drag it around in the only way they know how. I’m looking forward to what the next issue brings them.
Thanks for reading,