Ripley has been kidnapped by the monstrous Tromatikos and the rest of the Roanokes have set out to save her. They’ll have to face their fears within the spooky woods if they hope to find their friend. Does Ripley really need saving though? She’s not exactly a willing victim and she continues to frustrate Tromatikos at every turn.
The interaction between Ripley and Tromatikos makes Lumberjanes #55 for me. You know how this is supposed to go, but Ripley throws a huge monkey wrench into what you might expect. She’s not quivering in fear of this supernatural creature because she’s encountered way scarier things during her time at camp. Plus, she’s hanging out with her magic cats, so to her, this is like a little vacation.
This doesn’t jive with Tromatikos, who is used to being feared. Artist Dozerdraws shows her with these maniacal expressions that grow increasingly more exasperated as the comic goes on. You can tell she’s evil through and through with her sneaky smile of razor sharp teeth and her furrowed brow. Her tone changes as she comes to realize that Ripley is not who or what she thought she was.
Ripley is my favorite character in Lumberjanes and for good reason. It’s so easy to get caught up in her wide-eyed enthusiasm about everything. She loves life and wants to experience it to its fullest. Every day is an adventure for her. Writers Shannon Watters & Kat Leyh bring out such joy with Ripley, personifying the sheer fun of being a kid.
This playful nature comes through in Aubrey Aiese’s letters, not just for Ripley, but in the entire comic. It’s not the traditional all caps setup you usually see in comics. Instead, it’s a softer touch, with normal sentence case, which lends itself to the nature of the story and the personality of the characters.
Meanwhile, Ripley’s friends are out in the woods looking for her. They quickly learn that if they hope to find her, they have to walk towards the scariest parts of the forest. This eventually brings them to manifestations of classic movie monsters. They know they’re close because this is what Ripley fears.
I love how colorist Maarta Laiho renders these monsters. It’s like you’re seeing them through an old black-and-white TV. They practically have a bit of static on them, as if the image is not coming through clearly. They stand out against the backdrop of the greens and browns of the woods.
Lumberjanes has story arcs with beginnings, middles, and ends, but it feels like an ongoing narrative that never stops. This issue is no different. It’s constantly moving forward and it’s tough to remember that this has only been one summer for these kids. It’s obviously the best summer ever though. For their sake and ours, I hope it never ends because this comic is too good to stop.