Oh hi, you’re probably wondering what I’m doing posting a review for an old issue of a comic. You see, I’ve decided that it’s time to save all of my reviews from my time at PopOptiq from the website that is just a hollow shell of its former self. Y’see, when the website changed EICs a little more than a year ago, the new editor decided he wanted to make the website more like Buzzfeed and then proceeded to fire most of the staff. He then also claimed copyright ownership of our work.
Well, I know I never signed a contract with you or the previous EIC that said that was okay and my name is on the byline, so…
Written by Shannon Watters and Kat Leyh
Art by Carolyn Nowak
Colors by Maarta Laiho
Letters by Aubrey Aiese
Published by Boom! Studios
If there is one comics quote that can describe the second issue in the latest Lumberjanes arc, it’ll be that ever-present quote from Matt Fraction’s run of Hawkeye: “Okay. This looks bad.”
April decides in order to get the band back together, she needs to go underwater to the giant merperson music festival and play Harlow and Taylor’s original demo in order to make them remember the good times. If you’re thinking that sounds like a terrible idea, you’re not alone. All of the other Lumberjanes think so as well. Still, April is bound to go forward and teach the power of friendship.
It becomes clear in those moments that this particular arc is about showing April’s major character flaw: her sometimes obsessed singular focus. Jo speaks to this first-hand seeing that she’s known April the longest, which is a great way of showing younger readers that you can still love someone even when they mess up. Still, Ripley’s big puppy dog eyes when she asks Jen if April is going to make them miss the Bandicoot Bacchanal are heart tugging, and Nowak pulls this off wonderfully with her art. Jen seems to be growing as a character since she lets April go off to teach her that she won’t always know what she’s getting into. Mal points out that she sounds like Rosie. She could be right.
One of the best parts of this issue were Mal and Molly actually. With April in the focus, everyone’s favorite summer camp couple end up playing more of a commentator role with a running joke about the two of them being super confused about how you can play tapes underwater. Aubrey Aiese’s letters here are pitch perfect, with them getting super small when a character is giving an aside to themselves or big and all caps when a character is exciting or yelling. It’s really effective, especially in an issue where a lot of action happens. There’s also a perfect callback to Mal’s fear of water as she constantly curses it under her breath.
As you’d expect, everything does go wrong for April when a mix up with the tapes leads to her playing a sea serpent battle cry, which brings us to the beginning of the frame device from the beginning of the previous issue. As April admits she may have screwed things up, it leaves the reader wondering just how she’s getting out of this one.
With the new creative team getting a little further in, Lumberjanes #19 is a fun issue that gets more action into the arc. The focus on April gives a little more substance to the good and bad sides of her character, but there are also great little moments in the art and with the other Lumberjanes as well. It’ll be fun to see how this arc concludes next month.