Written by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Illustrated by Brooke Allen
Colors by Maarta Laiho
Letters by Aubrey Aiese
Cover by Noelle Stevenson
Published by BOOM! Studios
Good news, everyone! If you liked what you saw in Lumberjanes volume 1, you will adore what comes in volume 2. Stevenson, Ellis, and Allen give you more of everything you loved: friendship, quirk, adorableness, amazeballs supernatural weirdness, female gender diversity, youthful sincerity, and camp (both the place and the quality of art). Volume 1 only began to open the door on the strange events surrounding the Roanoke cabin Lumberjanes, but volume 2 reveals the mystery and closes the arc with satisfying spectacle, wisdom, charm, and humor.
The field guide framework to Lumberjanes remains crucial in grounding the comic. While volume 1 featured yetis and bearwomen, the events of volume 2 literally bridge the worlds of humans and gods, and the audience is asked to take such paranormal events as mere child’s play. The tone established by the tongue-in-cheek field guide structure continually re-establishes the mundane plausibility of middle school girls defeating, for example, supernatural velociraptors. These issues level the playing field between the two strata. Gods exhibit the worst vices and follies of humanity while humans rise above their flaws to become epically divine. The cartoonish illustration style by Brooke Allen plays a powerful role in tonally combining the mundane, supernatural, dramatic, and humorous within the story.
Amidst the two poles of mundane humanity and epic supernatural is the humor. Lumberjanes frequently alludes to beloved films like Jurassic Park, Aliens, Die Hard, and Terminator for a quick smile of recognition, but it also earns laughs through farce (Raptor attack!), absurdity (“How long has your hat been a live raccoon?”), running gags (“Holy bell hooks!”), visual gags (Roswell cabin), and irony. Part of what makes the ending so fantastically satisfying is the humorous depiction of Zeus: an ironic mix of godly powers and completely recognizable human lameness.
Within the epic adventure and multi-leveled humor lies the heart of this comic: the character relationships. As the stakes rise, the girls of Roanoke have their friendships tested and strengthened. Jo (Is her name referencing the tomboy motorcycle mechanic of The Facts of Life?) begins to think there’s something wrong with her after it appears she is at the center of the wackidoo events besetting the cabin. This worry distances her from the other girls, especially her BFF April, since she believes they won’t want to be her friend anymore if they know she’s supernatural or cursed. However, in friendship to the max! style, Jo shows her love and commitment to her fellow Lumberjanes and reignites their devotion to each other.
In addition to the core group–Jo, Mal, Molly, Ripley, and April–cabin leader Jen gets welcome chance to grow and enter the fray. Volume 1 largely saw Jen as the square gate-keeper who the girls constantly had to fool in order to set off on their adventures. But by the last issue of that volume, Jen found out about the crazy supernatural hijinks her cabin had been facing. In volume 2, Jen commits to keeping her girls safe. At first this means skipping the Raccoon Rodeo and making friendship bracelets at the camp (the comic even prints directions for the reader to participate too), but when danger comes straight for them, Jen realizes she must join the girls in getting to the bottom of what’s happening. Though initially out-of-sync in her first team-up with her charges, Jen comes to prove herself with quick thinking. And although she’s clearly scared by the strange situations they find themselves in, she repeatedly steps between danger and her girls, showing her maturity, caring, and courage.
Near the end, Molly is once again tasked with solving anagram puzzles. One reads: Manlessly abnormal ideal. An apt summary for the series. In volume 2, Stevenson, Ellis, and Allen turn the dial up on all of the lovable aspects of volume 1, closing their first big arc with a race-to-the-finish climax full of wit and wisdom. The field guide’s emphasis on character and skill builds an expectation fully met in the finale when the Roanoke cabin demonstrates that they are that mystical “manlessly abnormal ideal.”