Published by BOOM! Box
Written by: Noelle Stevenson & Grace Ellis
Illustrated by: Brooke Allen
Colours by: Maarta Laiho
Letters by: Aubrey Aiese
The magical summer romp continues with action and adventure aplenty in this third installment of Lumberjanes. Following the events of last month’s issue, the friends now find themselves in a mysterious underground tunnel, and it isn’t long before they encounter such fantastical things as talking statues and death-defying math problems in their bid to escape and return to camp.
Writers Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis very capably keep up a fast pace here, putting the scouts through a series of physical and intellectual challenges as they journey through the tunnel. What’s even better is that each Lumberjane is allowed to shine in each challenge: April arm-wrestles a Greek statue into submission (and I love that it’s the fashionable, conventionally feminine character who is the strongest in this regard), Ripley canon-balls another, Molly deduces the anagrams that finally lead them up to the surface, and so on. All appended with a healthy dose of team-work and banter, of course. There are also references to incidents that occurred in issue #1, which very deftly inform the reader that yes, there is an overarching plot at work here.
All that said, casual readers – or perhaps just forgetful ones like me – might find it confusing to keep track of each character, and this is a problem that has persisted from the first issue of the comic. It might just be a pitfall of group ensemble books, but something as simple as a character legend would at least ensure that readers don’t get to the end of the book wondering what that one character was called (Jo, in this instance).
But as I’ve noted previously, at least each Lumberjane has a strong, visual look all of her own, and Brooke Allen’s art continues to go above and beyond in keeping up with the non-stop story by Stevenson and Ellis. The composition of each page is beautifully thought out, allowing the story to flow easily despite the many twists and turns. I particularly enjoyed Allen’s use of perspective to depict the vastness – and beauty – of the underground tunnel. Don’t be misled, however – the scenery and characters themselves are both of equal importance in each page. Under Allen’s hand, the Lumberjanes are animated and expressive, and the art compensates for any problems that the script has in distinguishing each of the scouts. Adding a bright, vibrant feel to the proceedings are Maarta Laiho’s colours: almost the entire book occurs underground, sure, but Laiho cleverly uses reds and oranges to create an appropriate atmosphere, rather than just dosing the pages with a hefty dose of black/dark grey. Kudos also to Aubrey Aiese, whose speech-bubble placement is far more skillful than most comics I’ve read in recent times, making this issue an effortless and easy read.
Overall, with its straightforward story-telling and emphasis on friendship and female agency, Lumberjanes continues to be a great all-ages comic that is both intelligent and fun. Should you consider putting this into the hands of any young people in your vicinity? Yes, absolutely.