In this issue of Lumberjanes, it’s the start of a new arc and time to meet more mythical creatures that dwell in the woods around Camp Lumberjane. Is it good?
Lumberjanes #18 (BOOM! Studios)
Our Lumberjanes are relaxing after their latest adventures, especially enjoying a return to summer, when they encounter a new creature to the Lumberjane universe that was hinted at on the cover of issue 16:
Not only are there mermaids (sorry, merwomyn) living in the lake, but they are obsessed with music — especially rock and roll. Harlow, the first merwomyn they encounter, isn’t as happy to meet them. After rescuing the girls from the attentions of a tattooed sea serpent, Harlow tells them her story.
She and her friend formed a band, but as they got more popular, the unhappier fellow bandmate Carter became, until she missed a crucial performance and was kicked out. April desperately wants to help and whatever she decides to do in later issues leads to the massive mer-battle happening at the beginning of this one.
Is It Good?
At the heart of it, what makes Lumberjanes special is the focus on relationships, especially female friendships. We just ended a major arc centering on Rosie and Abigail’s damaged friendship and its consequences, and now we have Harlow and Taylor, the mermaids whose friendship also started when they were young and was damaged.
I had a hard time with this issue, possibly because while we’ve never encountered mermaids in the Lumberjanes universe, this storyline feels a bit stale. What pulled me in with previous arcs was the unique take on mythical creatures and their backstories. So far, the mermaids are just like normal people, only underwater and with tails. I would have liked to see something new here, like the way an earlier arc used Artemis and Apollo.
While Maarta Laiho’s colors are as vibrant and fun as usual, there’s something slightly off about Carolyn Nowak’s art. I noticed this the last time she did a run on Lumberjanes. Overall, she has the style down, but there is an unfinished quality to her line work that can make certain scenes confusing. And maybe this is just my problem, but I had no idea that Carter was supposed to be a guy until Harlow was telling her story at the end of the issue. That might have been from the gender-neutral “rock” style but I remember having that problem with character faces in an earlier issue.
I’m intrigued by a giant merpeople battle, but I hope getting there becomes more interesting as the arc continues.