By Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke A. Allen
BOOM! Box, 2015
The Lumberjanes are a scouting organization for, in the words of the back cover, “Badass Lady-Types.” Beyond earning survival badges and forging friendships (“to the max!”), the girls have to contend with a whole forest full of paranormal weirdness.
It’s harmless and intermittently cute, with a few educational interludes and the occasional laugh, appropriate for pre-teens getting into comics and looking for positive representations of female friendship.
The modern comic book renaissance has many better examples to offer of all the above positive elements.
Lumberjanes attempts to imitate the optimistic, lighthearted style of female-led peers like Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, and even Harley Quinn, but seems to have confused “lighthearted” with “insubstantial.” In an apparent effort to demonstrate the independence and competence of the Lumberjanes, every obstacle they face falls before the might of their teamwork and smarts, effortlessly and within seconds, eliminating the possibility of any tension or stakes.
The girls are fairly interchangeable, particularly in their bulletproof self-confidence which, while admirable in role models for girls, leaves little room for conflict or even self-discovery when the entire main cast shares this same immunity to all doubt.
What plot exists is instead pushed along by bizarre paranormal phenomena that come and go not only without explanation (which can work), but without resolution or any identifiable point, at least not within this first volume.
The bright colors and mood of wacky hijinks are probably sufficient to entertain younger readers while introducing concepts like anagrams and the Fibonacci sequence, but there’s nothing here to earn the firm stamp of crossover appeal that Lumberjanes seems to aspire to.
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