Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is cute, and I didn't think I would enjoy it nearly as much as I did. It's ostensibly written for young girls, but I knew something else was going on from the second page, when one of the characters exclaimed: "What in the Joan Jett are you doing?"
From there, we were off on a rip-roaring tale of female friendship, agency, adventure, and overall awesomeness.
Our five titular Lumberjanes are attending a summer camp called the "Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types," with a theme of "Friendship to the Max!" (This volume is the collection of the first four comics, and is laid out like a "Lumberjanes Field Manual," including the different badges--especially the hilarious "Pungeon Master Badge"--and pages describing the Lumberjanes' purpose, programs, and objectives. It's an effective method of helping the reader suspend disbelief and immerse themselves in the Lumberjanes' world.) Our characters are Mal, Molly, April, Ripley, and Jo, with the standouts, to me, being the latter two: Ripley is a fearless, impetuous little imp, and Jo is the science nerd (and I would say, the oldest of the five--there aren't any ages given, but it seems to me they'd be in the twelve-fourteen range, as befits their audience) who solves Fibonacci sequences.
Their adventures include fighting off three-eyed foxes, winding their way through an underground maze filled with talking statues and anagrams, battling yetis and river monsters, and falling in with a group of "scouting lads" who turn into frothing zombies at night. (Said scouting lads also includes a panel which convinced me that this comic isn't written entirely for young girls--the scoutmaster is a macho blowhard who spouts stuff like "Cookies are for the weak. Real men should be splitting wood and smoking pipes!" and "I am going to catch a fish by wrestling it away from a bear!" Only an adult could appreciate this over-the-top sendup of toxic masculinity.)
All in all, this little book is a delight. There are several sly pop-culture references, including a shout-out to "Holy Mae Jemison!" and an anagram of The X-Files' "the truth is out there." I'll certainly be on the lookout for Volume 2.
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