by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen & Maarta Laiho
Another issue, another adventure! Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis are bringing a lot of energy to this new series, and the second issue of Lumberjanes is a blast. Last issue, readers were introduced to the cast of characters and shown just how strange this camp may be. The issue closed on a cliff hanger indicating some big mysteries, but before getting to those, issue two sends the girls down river. Of course, hijinks ensue.
The opening scene for the second issue finds the members of Bunkhouse Roanoke on the bank of the river prepping for an outing. Bunk leader Jen walks through the rules and warnings over the course of a few pages and it makes for some excellent examination of the different characters. Further evident is just how colorful and comedic a character Ripley looks to be. As Jen tries her hardest to educate the girls on the outing and safety measures, Ripley and Mal insist on cutting in to ask about river monsters and sharks. The way that Ripley plays foil to Jen works so well that this scene could have lasted the entire issue and there would likely have been no shortage of material and laughs. Nevertheless, Jen eventually makes her way through all of the pertinent information and the girls board the canoes and set out on the river.
If anything was to be gleaned from issue one, it is that this camp is certainly not normal and something is amiss. Mal’s worries about the dangers of the river turn out to be justified, and before long the approaching falls pale in comparison to the real threat. The girls are separated as they come face to face with another three-eyed creature. The sense of adventure in the series, especially in this issue, carry the spirit of cartoon series like Recess and Magic School Bus. Stevenson and Ellis balance the focus between the interactions of the many personalities with incredibly entertaining adventures so well. Though the threats and mysteries could be scripted to feel more serious, the writers aim for a sense of levity and the result is all the more engaging. As the issue comes to a close, readers will have an even better sense of the scope of the books and its characters.
A big element of how the writing is able to be so effective in maintaining a lighter and more adventurous spirit is through the art of the story. Brooke Allen continues to impress in her characterizations of each of the members of the Roanoke bunkhouse. Introducing readers to six characters amidst a mystery story challenges the ability to distinguish who is who. Unless the writer continues to have characters address each other by name, a practice that is quite unnatural in a typical exchange, they must find a way to communicate to the reader who each of these people are. Allen continues to depict each girl in such a way that readers will have little difficulty in discerning one from another. In addition, her pencils along with coloring from Maarta Laiho present a very expressive world. Body language, facial expressions and the overall visual aspect of each panel including how they are framed exude so much emotion. The two really make an excellent complement to the spirit of Stevenson and Ellis’ upbeat scripting.
Lumberjanes #2 is a real treat and acts as a convincing argument in favor of this new series. The book accomplishes exactly what it sets out to and manages to produce a number of laughs along the way.