In many ways, “Lumberjanes” #17 is a very typical issue for this series. There are short-term and long-term stories unfolding here, both in terms of plot and characterization. Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters and Brooke Allen continue to dish up adventure and mystery, and it’s a good reminder of why this book should always be on people’s pull lists.
A lot goes on in this issue. We see more of Rosie and Abigail in their flashback to when they were both Lumberjanes. We learn more about the Grootslang and what might keep it from destroying the entire forest. There’s more development in the friction-filled relationship between Barney and Jo. Finally, we learn more of the larger plot about the strangeness that exists at camp in relation to the rest of the world. Here’s what’s great about all of that: nothing feels rushed or given short shrift. Stevenson and Watters juggle each of the threads effortlessly, and I feel like I got more than my money’s worth in terms of how well each piece fell into place within the greater scheme of things.
As fun as the plotting is, it’s the characterization that brings the joy of “Lumberjanes” #17 to life. Jo’s annoyance with Barney’s presence feels remarkably real, and I like that there’s a real reason behind it, even if it’s hard for Jo to quantify at times. Similarly, I appreciate that the rift between Rosie and Abigail was not so easily fixed by the end of the story. One successful adventure and being saved isn’t enough to wipe out the past, and you can see the pain that exists for each of them, albeit for different reasons. It serves as a good counterpoint to Jo and Barney’s issues, in part because they’ve dealt with them early enough that they can keep that rift from growing like it has between Rosie and Abigail. It’s also hard to keep from loving all of the little moments, like Ripley’s continual discovery of secrets and surprises; it’s wonderfully silly and provides a needed amount of levity.
That levity wouldn’t be half as good without Allen’s art, though. Just look at that huge grin on Ripley’s face when she opens up the secret passage or erupts from a pile of treasure. Similarly, the look that Jo gives her the second time (with the perfectly timed, “Seriously??”) is hysterical, even as you can see her frustration growing. Even the little moments, like the Lumberjanes racing off to confront the Grootslang with treasure in hand, has a real spring in its proverbial step. The characters have such a strong energy about them that it’s hard to not instantly like them; there’s so much exuberance and joy in the art that it just bleeds off of the page.
“Lumberjanes” #17 is a solid conclusion to the Abigail storyline, and the tiny cliffhanger is a great lure to make readers want to see what happens next. I’m sorry to see Stevenson leaving the title, but hopefully Watters will keep the book this much fun alongside Allen and new co-author Kat Leyh. This book is, once again, a blast.