Over the first arc of Lumberjanes, it’s been slowly revealed that the reason for the strange happenings at the Camp for Hardcore Lady Types is a sibling squabble between the twin gods Artemis (or Diane as she is called in the comic) and Apollo. Jo is somehow connected to these characters as well, which was revealed in Lumberjanes #7. And Lumberjanes #8 is the huge payoff after all these reveals. Writers Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis continue to give each Lumberjane a unique voice as a character, and each of them (including camp counselor Jen) play a pivotal role in the final battle against/with Diane, Apollo, and an army of rabid Boy Scouts. But Lumberjanes isn’t just about the punching, puzzle solving, and magic, it is centered around female friendship, which comes to the forefront in this issue. Artist Brooke Allen brings a frenetic energy to the art using wavy lines to depict the magical and celestial occurrences in Lumberjanes #8 as well helping Stevenson and Ellis flesh out the characters with highly expressive and distinct figure work. And Maarta Laiho’s colors enhance the crazy fight and magic scenes as well as highlighting this issue’s big climactic moment.
Stevenson and Ellis give Lumberjanes #8’s plot a nice mix of brains and brawn, battle and diplomacy as the various Lumberjanes use their skills in diverse areas from astronomy, word games, and even human being tossing to save the day. And these abilities come from the personalities that Ellis and Stevenson have been crafting over the past seven issues. For example, April (with wild, shojo manga style eyes from Brooke Allen) immediately attacks Diane after a big plot turn while Mal snarks and tries to come up with a better plan. Much maligned camp counselor Jen gets her best moments of the series in this issue as her knowledge of the more obscure aspects of mythology and astronomy definitely come in handy. Allen even draws her an adorable, nerdy sweatshirt to punctuate these scenes. In a general sense, it is also refreshing to see a comic where female characters use their brains and wits just as much (if not more) than their fists and superpowers. There is a small dangling plot-line with the capture the flag plot line from issue six, but Ellis and Stevenson acknowledge it, and it is an incredibly small blip in an empowering, entertaining ending to Lumberjanes’ first arc. (That was way too much alliteration.)
In Lumberjanes #8, Brooke Allen continues her loose, watercolor infused line work that brings dynamism and sense of fun to the story. But her pencils tighten up and Maarta Laiho uses bolder color for the climactic scenes which I will not spoil in this story. As mentioned earlier, Allen’s vivid facial expressions bring a lot of character and humor to the comic. From Mal’s standoffish undercut to April’s angry eyes and Jen’s adorkable smile, her art gives the Lumberjanes the distinct characteristics that make them endearing to readers and fans. She also has a good command over panel space as she show the chaos of the battle with various figures trying to get some MacGuffin or another and still clearly shows the various punches, kicks, and holds. Maarta Laiho uses a smorgasbord of colors to continue to show the different personalities of the Lumberjanes, and her coloring really shines during the scenes involving inclement weather or magic. Lumberjanes #8 is a comic that is both action and character driven and shows that it is the gold standard when it comes to all ages comics with its focus on interesting and complex female characters as well as friendship to the max!