Lumberjanes: Friendship to the Max is the second trade paperback volume of the series, and throws readers right back into the outlandish adventures of the hardcore lady-types at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s seemingly magical summer camp. Volume 2 includes issues 5-8 and resolves some pressing questions from Volume 1, such as: Who is that magic bear lady? What the Annie Smith Peck going on in that lighthouse? And just what the junk is up with that boys’ camp, anyway??
One of the most enjoyable things about Lumberjanes, which delivers richly on the themes of friendship, feminism, solidarity, and the balance of self-sufficiency and cooperation, is that there are no real antagonists (at least none that I could find in the issues collected here nor in Volume 1: Beware the Kitten Holy). While there are obstacles galore – Raptors! Mythical creatures! The boredom of making lanyards! – there are no true enemies amongst the Lumberjanes. This is not to imply that the Lumberjanes live in a dull world or that every interpersonal relationship played out on the page is without strife – existing readers know this already. But as a newbie to the series, I was unsure of what I would be getting into, and I’ve found that what impresses me most is the authors’ commitment to keeping the overall relationships between characters civil without sacrificing any of the drama or excitement. Conflict between Lumberjanes and the people (and creatures!) they encounter typically takes shape in the form of banter-filled cartoonish fighting, or a character being possessed or otherwise controlled by outside forces. At each character’s core, with little exception, there is goodness. Even those revealed to be the “bad guys” by the end of the collection are really just misguided brats.
I especially enjoyed watching Jen’s character develop over the course of these four issues. As the Roanoke cabin’s scout leader, Jen spends most of her time trying to keep scouts Jo, April, Molly, Mal and Ripley out of trouble. While her prudence is often scoffed at by her scouts, as well as camp supervisor Rosie, the story arcs of Friendship to the Max help readers better understand that Jen’s cautionary attitude comes from a place of intelligence and care, not paranoia.
Young readers are likely to learn some great lessons about trust and communication, power, and decision-making thanks to the adventures of the Lumberjanes, and adult readers – even curmudgeonly skeptics like myself – will find it hard not to love the spectrum of personalities that make up the Roanoke troop.
Story: Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis Art: Brooke Allen
Story: 10 Art: 8 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy
BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review