I didn’t know anything about Lumberjanes when I picked it up. What I knew was that I loved Noelle Stevenson’s art, that it was a comic series geared toward YA (my go-to genre), and that it had an all-female cast. Everyone was talking about it, especially after the success of Stevenson’s award-winning graphic novel, Nimona, and Lumberjanes 100% lives up to its hype, and possibly surpasses it.
Lumberjanes is a plucky comic series about five girls (April, Jo, Molly, Mal, and Ripley) at a girl-scout type summer camp. But while the rest of the campers are focused on earning their (wacky) badges, our five girls are busy fighting monsters and battling Greek gods, while also keeping in mind their number one motto: Friendship to the Max!
I know what you’re thinking. That sounds cheesy. But that’s the beauty of Noelle Stevenson. She takes a very simple concept, like that of friendship being the most important thing or, in the case of Nimona, people not always knowing what side they’re on, and wraps it up in an irresistible storyline, simplistic and beautiful artwork, and hilarious characters. If you read Nimona, you know that humor is Stevenson’s strong suit. Most of her characters are sarcastic and witty, while also being completely believable and full of human flaws and weaknesses. But just like with Nimona, the humor becomes so much the center of the story that when it all fades away, usually somewhere around the climax of the story, you’re left with an intense message and a unique storyline that you weren’t expecting to hit you right in the feels.
This series is packed with great story, great characters, and excellent artwork. The only thing I can even conceive as a problem is when the illustrations were passed from Stevenson onto different artists after Issue 8. The storyline seemed to drop off a little at that point, even though Stevenson was still writing the comics. Issue 9 and 10 were pretty rocky, but in my opinion, the adventure and intrigue comes roaring back around Issue 11 (and I’m looking forward to moving on with the story in Issue 12)
Here’s why I would recommend Lumberjanes for readers of superhero comics and gritty graphic novels: there’s something for everybody in Lumberjanes. Sure, the target audience here is obviously teenage girls (and boys), but there are demon-possessed campers, crazy hybrid monsters, and even a guest appearance by the voice of Zeus. If you’re looking for Chosen One-type superhero comics, Lumberjanes has that feel. If you’re looking for something darker, we’re talking zombie campers, boating accidents, and being stuck in an alternate universe and being turned to stone by lying, cheating bad guys.
Lumberjanes might not be quite what you’re used to, but Stevenson has a way of speaking to everyone, and I think this series is worth taking a shot on.
~ Polaris Rex ~
All photo credit to Noelle Stevenson