Although well into the series, which launched two-and-a-half years ago, this issue keeps its eye on several key features that make Lumberjanes so appealing. Issue #31 is written by Shannon Watters & Kat Leyh and drawn by Carey Pietsch.
First, there’s the teamwork. The girls are facing off against a giant bird with medusa-like powers to turn anyone who sees it into stone, accompanied by Diane, a teen goddess exiled from Olympus, and Ligo, a Gorgon. They have to work together to defeat the enemy, and even Diane, who is prickly (given her family, who can blame her?) and has selfish motivations, is won over. Spending time with the other campers has caused her to develop loyalty to them. That’s the heartwarming core of the issue, seeing these women recognize and celebrate friendship.
Then there’s the fantasy. Together, these scouts encounter all kinds of crazy adventures and creatures, but they win through together. It’s a bit odd to see a Gorgon in a camp bonding story, but heck, there have already been mermaids and magical kitties and dimensional travel and a whole flock of other supernatural beings. At this point, Diane and her struggles are just a callback to the early issues.
I appreciate the storytelling. Between seeing the characters fumble around with eyes closed, due to the nature of the threat, yet still determined and fighting (and still able to find each other due to friendship), and the gag inherent in the plan — “I need you all to … be as annoying and distracting as possible” — this is funny and exciting.
I actually prefer Pietsch’s art to the original designs by Brooke Allen, because Allen’s characters were almost in different art styles. Pietsch is true to the characters as established, but they all fit together better as she’s smoothed out the rough edges.
I’ve found myself avoiding long series runs these days, because they risk creating complacency in me as they keep doing what they’re doing, but Lumberjanes is a great counter-argument to that pattern. By bringing in different creative teams to work within the overall concept, which is flexible enough for various themes and directions, the series stays fresh. I love the characters and still want to know more about them, particularly when we get hints of their homes lives and backgrounds before they all came to camp. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)