“Lumberjanes” #9 is a bit of an outlier for the series, a change of pace. As you read this comic, it will quickly become obvious what’s going on here in terms of behind the scenes. And while it’s understandable, it’s also a little unfortunate, because this is the only slightly underwhelming issue of “Lumberjanes” to date.
“Lumberjanes” #9 has the girls around a campfire, telling one another ghost stories as part of getting the “If You’ve Got It, Haunt It” merit badge. As each character tells her story, a different guest artist steps in to draw those three or so pages, with Brittney Williams tackling the framing story. If I were a betting man, I would say that the purpose of “Lumberjanes” #9 was to allow regular series artist Brooke Allen some time to catch her breath and build up a backlog of pages for the series. (And sure enough, it was just announced that Carolyn Nowak is drawing issues #10-12, with Allen returning starting with #13.) And so, with guest artists galore jumping in this month, BOOM! continues to publish new issues rather than taking extra time off.
The problem is, none of these stories are terribly scary or even memorable. I think the largest stumbling block is the short length for each one; by the time the mood is set, the story’s over and we’re back at the campfire. Also missing here is the strong sense of camaraderie that exists between the girls. We get some glimpses of it at the campfire, but on the whole this is missing that crucial interplay that Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis typically bring to the pages.
There is some nice guest art, if nothing else. Nowak’s pages for her short story about a snowed in car are clean and attractive, and I’m glad that she’s the artist to step in for the next few months. Felicia Choo’s art also stands out for being the one who is able to evoke a genuinely creepy atmosphere immediately, with the dark form of the sinister beast and its unnerving grin. And while the story has a particularly strange pacing (although it’s actually a little funny as a result), it’s hard to go wrong with art from Faith Erin Hicks.
“Lumberjanes” #9 is a very atypical issue of this series, one that I don’t think gives new readers a good feel for why this comic is such a hit. I’d recommend coming back next month for “Lumberjanes” #10 to get a better understanding as a new storyline kicks off. This one just isn’t quite up to par; it’s competent, but ultimately a little forgettable.