After a hike-gone-wrong lands them at the Scouting Lads’ camp, the Lumberjanes are closer than ever to finding the Holy Kitten — and that can only mean more danger, more mystical creatures, and more… cookies? Between the copious talents of Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, and Brooke Allen, “Lumberjanes” continues to be charming, adorable and kickass in all the right ways, with its fourth issue bringing in a slew of new characters and a ton of laughs.
“Lumberjanes” is — in essence — a team book, built on the way the girls function as a group. Considering that, the way that Ellis, Stevenson, and Allen make each character’s personality so vibrant and unique is downright incredible. In the space of only four issues, the girls have developed into three-dimensional individuals who only continue to grow. Ellis and Stevenson do this by spotlighting each character’s individual strengths in ways that fall naturally into the storyline, be it April’s strength, Jo’s sixth sense for trouble, or Molly’s skill with a bow and arrow; Allen works these moments in more subtly but no less effectively, breathing life into the Lumberjanes even when they’re not the center of attention, whether Mal is giving the shocker to show her approval for a plan or Ripley moves through the background with a big old grin on her face. In these details, the creative team makes the book truly riveting.
While the Lumberjanes have been the sole focus of the story so far, Ellis, Stevenson and Allen have introduced a whole gaggle of new characters in the Scouting Lads. Although the Scouting Lads are set up to be the mirror image of the Lumberjanes — the order to their chaos, shall we say — the Lads are no mere foil for the girls. This especially falls on Allen; Allen doesn’t simply copy the girls’ looks onto their male counterparts (if they can really be called that at all) and — with help from colorist Maarta Laiho — creates a diverse group of boys that come across as distinct in their own personal ways. What’s more, she contributes to this sense by showing the Lads’ activities in their common room, from their scrapbooking table to their love of tea. Ellis and Stevenson make this differentiation as well, using speech patterns and the Lads’ tidy behavior to show this contrast in a much more clear-cut way. Combined, these methods make this set of new characters feel fresh and original.
Ellis, Stevenson and Allen weave in a few new elements that make this issue stand out in particular, not the least of which is the fact that they’ve begun their first continued adventure. Although past issues have been loosely connected by the idea of the Holy Kitten, this fourth issue provides the book with its first real cliffhanger. Not only is this cliffhanger exciting, it emphasizes the fact that this series as an ongoing as opposed to a set of one act scenes. Additionally, this cliffhanger ushers in a hilarious antagonist in the form of the Lads’ camp director, finally giving readers a personified “bad guy” they’ll love to hate. His diatribes about stereotypical manliness are gleefully ridiculous and laugh-out-loud funny. Letterer Aubrey Aiese absolutely rocks his dialogue with all capital letters, which only boosts his wacky-factor. Likewise, Laiho gives his face a nice red tint to add to his overblown verbosity.
“Lumberjanes” #4 has so much to love that it simply can’t all fit in a short review. Between the hipster yetis, clever catchphrases and secret handshakes, “Lumberjanes” has a whole lot of heart.