Lumberjanes #11 sees Ripley, Jo and April desperate to earn themselves some badges.
Previously in Lumberjanes #10: Mal and Molly go on a date and things get dangerous.
AN ADVENTURE IN STALLING
For the first time since this series started Lumberjanes #11 feels like Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Watters are stalling for time. Oh, the girls do things, but most of what happens over the course of the issue feels like the upcoming catalyst events are being saved for coming issues because this arc is supposed to be a certain number of issues long. It’s still cute and it’s still fun, but something in the plot and the heart of the issue is missing.
The A-story of Lumberjanes #11 still focuses on Mal and Molly trapped with the Bear Woman on the same magical plane that they wandered into in the past issue. Stevenson and Watters give each of the girls are chance to illustrate true bravery in defending each other and this serves nicely to both reinforce Mal and Molly’s romantic relationships and speak to the different ways in which bravery can manifest from person to person. Considering that Lumberjanes #11 is a comic book widely read by children and adults the writers have done something both sweet and responsible.
The disappointing aspect of the A-story of Lumberjanes #11 is that Mal and Molly ultimately don’t get anywhere. They wind up still lost and wandering about this spiritual plane with the Bear Woman because she’s misplaced her reading glasses. This is the point where the silliness of the Lumberjanes series runs a bit aground for me. This catalyst for the – presumably – mortal danger our protagonist couple is in ultimately lacks the stakes that make the risk seem worth it in the first place.
Let’s move on to the B-Plot, which is really the highlight of Lumberjanes #11. Jo, April and Ripley continue their quest to sweep up as many boring badges as they can. The decision rests largely on the cake baking/decorating class, then they move on to a ballroom dancing class, friendship bracelet making and a stargazing class. Ultimately, only one of the girls has any skill in completing these classes, and thereby earning her badges, and by doing this Stevenson and Watters flip readers’ expectations and prove – much like with bravery – that the book and the cover adage is true … plus it’s a pretty funny reveal page after page even when readers know that it’s coming.
In the end, Lumberjanes #11 is a cute issue with some really special moments in twenty-two pages. The main problem is that the A-plot comes across as spinning wheels and holding off on bigger reveals and bigger plot points that have already been designated for issues coming down the pipeline, which leaves the story on the page a little lacking.
There is a lot of good in Lumberjanes #11, but it’s probably the weakest of the entire series to date.
REAL SWEET ART
Carolyn Nowak continues her work as the artist of Lumberjanes #11 and she’s still new enough to the series that it’s fun to watch her take on familiar faces and locations. The girls all appear slightly older under her pencil and a little more grounded in the reality the readers inhabit. For instance, when Mal and Molly are forced into physical combat their movements seem powerful on the panel, rather than cartoonish and exaggerated (which is not to say bad), as they had in the first arc of the story.
Nowak’s style lends a sense of maturity to Lumberjanes #11 that nicely mirrors the more mature themes and storylines that are a natural evolution of the series. These more complex emotions also come across in the faces of the girls that star in this issue.
Lumberjanes #11 shines with Carolyn Nowak’s art, she draws the magic out of the most ordinary moments in the issue and ultimately celebrates the magical realism that this series embodies.
THE BOTTOM LINE: PRETTY GOOD
Lumberjanes #11 is cute and nicely subverts readers’ expectation at a couple different moments throughout the issue, although in the end it doesn’t feel like there’s much going on.
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