There is a joy that permeates every issue of Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and Brooke Allen’s “Lumberjanes” so far. The creativity and excitement of not just the characters in the story but the creators as well leaps off of every page. I had a big, dumb smile plastered across my face from cover to cover and while my review copy didn’t come with a cool mixtape list as did issue one (thank you for reigniting my love of “Edge of Seventeen” by the by) it had plenty of great art and story to make up for it.
What’s great about this book is that our heroes always have a sense of agency about themselves. Even when faced with supernatural danger they find strength in their wonder for the world and their friendship with one another. For the Lumberjanes, everything is an adventure waiting to be discovered, a new way for the world to reveal itself. As April leads the girls further into the cave and they find more challenges to keep them where they are, it’s the trust in the group that gets them through. April arm wrestles a stone warrior for the right of passage but at no point does anyone else doubt that she can get the job done. Ripley and Mal team up for a Fastball Special to take down a squawking owl guardian and there is no second guessing that this is the thing to do. Even Molly, filled with self-doubt, has a moment to shine as she deciphers the final code that allows them out of their predicament, learning that she was the only one that felt she shouldn’t be there. Paranoia and distrust seem to rule the roost in most comic books today and both of these things are refreshingly absent from this series. Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis keep the action moving along quickly and still find time for some silly jokes – Ripley misreading a cipher and suggesting they all pee on some stuff to get out of the cave had me giggling like a fool, and who couldn’t love the Holy Kitten?
Brooke Allen and Maarta Laiho team up to give us a vibrant, expressive world of exciting possibilities. The cartooning is somehow loose and detailed at the same time. The book has a style all of its own and the creative teams’ confidence in pulling it together rises with each issue that’s released. Each character has a unique design and the panels are filled in with rich environmental information.
In an era where comics are being gobbled up for development in other mediums “Lumberjanes” is just screaming for someone like Amy Poehler to find it and grab the rights. Three issues in and it has already proven to be one of the most fun books on the stands. Credit due to series editor Dafna Pleban for spearheading this crew and letting them rip.
If you’re looking for exploding eyeballs that turn the world upside down with secrets, or parallel realities where everyone you knew was a lie, or women and men in poorly designed skinsuits chasing down macguffins, seek shelter elsewhere. If you’re looking for solid entertainment with an empowering message, then crank up the Stevie Nicks and grab “Lumberjanes” #3. You won’t regret it.