For a book whose cast is growing as much as "Lumberjanes'," it would be easy to leave some characters on the sidelines and forget about them. It's a pleasure to see that not be the case here, though; as "Lumberjanes" #14 kicks off a new storyline, not only are the side characters being more integrated into the overall book, but Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters and Brooke Allen make sure the core cast gets something to do too.
"Lumberjanes" #14 plunges the summer camp into a sudden winter, and Stevenson and Watters quickly ramp up the danger as Jen is separated from her wards as massive, antlered wolves attack. While Jen finds a new friend and rescuer in the form of Abigail, both the rest of the Lumberjanes, head-of-camp Rosie and nearby scout Barney all begin a rescue mission of their own.
I really appreciate that Stevenson and Watters are able to juggle so many characters; the girls are still the big focus of the book, but having characters like Rosie, Barne, and the bear-woman is a real delight. It's also a pleasure to see that Abigail isn't instantly turned into a slavering menace that simply must be destroyed. Instead, she's someone who has genuinely saved Jen, even as some of her hunting habits throw off some red flags. It keeps Jen from looking stupid for trusting her, and it also gives some moral ambiguity to the story. Is Abigail really a villain, a genuine hero who happens to not get along with some other characters or someone who's simply got some less-than-desirable traits? Of course, having the other girls in on the action makes it that much more fun. The fact that April packed her winter gear just in case is a hysterical yet apt moment for the character, and I appreciate that -- while the girls are capable a lot of time -- they're able to make mistakes too. They're not perfect, and their getting lost without Jen's assistance says a lot about both them and Jen herself.
Allen's art is adorable and expressive once again. The grin on April's face when she quotes "Frozen" is hard to turn away from, and a lot of the trust towards Abigail comes from the way that she's drawn with a helpful and genuinely worried look on her face when she checks in on Jen. Allen is able to bring real menace to the book, too; the antlered-wolves look genuinely dangerous as they attack, and Rosie riding a moose is one of the most formidable images of the series to date.
"Lumberjanes" #14 is, once again, a strong issue in a series that just gets better and better. It's a joy to see the book become such a genuine hit, because it deserves all the attention it's getting and a lot more, to boot. If you've been hearing how much fun "Lumberjanes" is, this is a great time to take a look. A new storyline has kicked off, you get to see some of the undercurrents of the series surfacing in ways that hint about greater mysteries and, most importantly, it's a lot of fun. Mission accomplished.