In the conclusion of the merband debacle, can April finally fix the watery mess she made? And is it good?
Lumberjanes #20 (BOOM! Studios)
The issue opens catching up with the opening scene in the first issue of this arc: merfolk and sea serpents in a raging battle in the lake. As Jen goes to get help, April has to face that things have gotten wildly out of control. Jo brings it home, pointing out that while April did want to help, she also just plain wanted to get involved at the expense of what everyone else wanted to do.
After a confab with a recently returned Harlow about what it takes to keep a friendship strong, April has another idea of how to help. But first, she has to set things right with the rest of the Lumberjanes, by admitting her faults and trying to convince them that THIS time, her idea will succeed.
With the Janes at her back, they convince Rosie and Jen to have the Bandicoot Bacchanal by the lake. And with the help of some enginneering-defying electronics, the mergirls band starts rocking the Bacchanal and calms the lake battle.
Is It Good?
This latest arc wraps up in a pretty satisfying, though predictable, way. April and Harlow learn lessons about what friendship really entails, April gets to redeem her mistakes, and Ripley gets to show off her hard work and sweet dance moves with Bubbles.
Carolyn did an especially great job with her facial expressions in this issue, especially with April. She got to express basically every emotion and they were all clear and evocative. But the real standout with the art was Maarta Laiho’s colors. She added some new techniques to her Lumberjanes work – I loved the watercolor style blending of colors in the backgrounds, which gave nice depth to various panels, especially the underwater scenes.
As an all ages comic, things are usually going end happily for the Lumberjanes and that is great. When you read a lot of comics, it’s refreshing to have a story that thrives on optimism. However, in past arcs, you never knew quite how you were going to get there. This arc felt predictable from the beginning and wrapped up very quickly. We’ve gotten a lot of life lessons from the Lumberjanes before, but for some reason, this arc felt much more didactic than previous stories. The only thing that made the merfolk supernatural were their tails, and while the ongoing joke about not understanding how any of the tech worked, it felt a little bit like it was admitting that the story was weak.
I feel like I’ve come across as overly harsh in my reviews of this arc, because I still love Lumberjanes and I enjoy reading it every month. It just started on such a high note and was such a unique book that I hold it to a very high standard, and this arc just didn’t do it for me. Maybe I’m not the target audience for this particular arc – I’m an adult and I have no doubt that younger readers, especially tweens, will love it. But I would have liked a little more show and less tell with the messaging.