Meet the Lumberjanes: Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley. Five girls who begin the journey of their lives as they attend Lumberianes camp. Along with their camp counselor, Jen (sometimes known as Jane or any other female name that starts with a J) and camp director Rosie, you don’t necessarily have a young adults book aimed at teenage females but a story about self-discovery, finding the beauty and mystery in everything, and stepping into your power. One other member of the cast is Bubbles, Molly’s raccoon who is also sometimes her hat. This week sees publication of the series’ fourth collected edition–Out of Time-which reprints issues 14-17 of the ongoing series by Boom Studios.
I had never heard of Lumberjanes until I was doing research on LGBT characters in comics. Finding a lack of transgender characters, my research led me to Lumberjanes (more on this later). This was likely one of the best decisions I have made as I am currently on my second read through of the series.
The newest volume follows the girls and Jen as they are camping in the forest when they are pummeled by a sudden and mysterious blizzard (it’s allegedly summer in the series). The blizzard separates Jen from the girls, when Jen is rescued by a mysterious figure. Rosie comes to the rescue and takes the girls back to camp. Sadly, a distraught Ripley (my favorite character of the series) cannot be consoled until a rescue team has been dispatched. Rosie decides to go off on her own, but the girls are not the type to stay out of trouble. Barney, one of the scouting lads from the neighboring all male camp, joins the search efforts along with his cat, Marigold, much to the chagrin of Jo.
We find that Jen is rescued by Abigail, a former Lumberjane who has been living in the woods alone for many years. Abigail has been killing off the mysterious creatures that seem to plague the campgrounds. Jen and Abigail hit it off until she not only discovers Abigail’s plot to kill the dreaded Grootslang (no relation to Groot from GotG), but discovers Abigail’s secret past with Rosie. We also discover the Bearwoman’s real name and her relationship to Rosie, Abigail and the Lumberjanes camp.
The tale involves intrigue, adventure, mysteries revealed (while new ones emerge) and danger as well as hilarity everywhere you turn. This is classic storytelling by the writing team of Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Watters and illustrated by Brooke Allen. It’s a tradepaperback to binge read for sure.
The Stevenson/Watters writing team has consistently delivered a tale of wonder and excitement. They have laid a very strong foundation for the future writers of the series as, alas, this is their final journey with the Lumberjanes (for now). While I am sad to see them leave, it would take a very incompetent writer to mess up what this writing team has established. The characterization is so solid that the fine tradition this team has set forth will continue. I thank you ladies for giving me an opportunity to discover myself in the eyes of these delightful characters.
Brooke Allen’s illustration of the series is a wonderful complement to the writing. You can feel the emotions jumping off of the page. You almost don’t need any word balloons to know what the girls are feeling at any given point in time. I have not been so impressed with a creative team since Busiek and Perez on the Avengers.
Now I get to tell you about my favorite part of Out of Time. As I mentioned earlier, I came across Lumberjanes while researching LGBT characters in comics. I came to find out that Jo is a transgender female. On my first binge reading of the series, I was anxious to come across her coming out tale. Sadly, in my exuberance, I missed it as it was so brilliantly written that it was not an obvious coming out tale. When I realized my error, I was mesmerized by this indelible writing team and fell more in love with the series.
This reviewer gives Lumberjanes Volume 4 – Out of Time 10 out of 10 stars. This collection is by far my favorite of the series. This is a must read if you want to read a story that will keep you entertained and make you feel good about the world. Thank you Noelle, Shannon and Brooke. This writer also humbly requests that Ripley be given her own series. Please?