The Roanokes Pull Out All The Stops For Jo’s Birthday In Lumberjanes #57

by James Ferguson

There’s a birthday at the Lumberjanes camp and not just any birthday. It’s for Jo so April is pulling out all the stops. She has never missed one of these for her best friend and she’s going to make sure this is the most memorable one yet. Fortunately, April has a bunch of friends and assorted supernatural creatures to lend a hand, but this is easier said than done. After all, a yeti isn’t the biggest help in a situation like this.

Lumberjanes is one of the few comics that can change up artists without missing a beat. AnneMarie Rogers has a different style than the artists that came before her, but it’s a seamless transition. The comic is versatile enough that you can go with the flow even if the change in style is drastic. It takes just a few panels to get used to it and then you’re plugged in all the way like usual.

There’s a sitcom-esque setup to Lumberjanes #57 as April’s plan goes into action. It’s elaborate and insane and you just know it’s going to take us on a wild ride. It’s impossible to read this comic without a smile on your face. You get caught up in the excitement of the characters so quickly. This is a testament to the writing from Shannon Watters & Kat Leyh.

All of this comes from such a positive origin too. At the end of the day, all April wants to do is show her best friend how much she means to her. Of course, we’ll get to a lesson of sorts by the time this all wraps up that all Jo really wants is to hang out with her buddies. That’s a given. It’s how we get there that will be the fun part.

The journey is already starting out pretty crazy as the Lumberjanes’ old pals, the lazy yetis are called upon to lend a hand. These are some of my favorite guest stars in this comic because they’re so strange and awkward. All they really want to do is hang out in their awesome treehouse so it takes some convincing for them to help out. April is prepared for this and starts the sell in a bubbly manner that would convince even the grumpiest monster out there.

This fun positivity comes through in Aubrey Aiese’s letters too. The dialogue in Lumberjanes is shown in sentence case, which allows for certain words to be emphasized in all caps. It represents how real people talk and it’s perfect for adding a tone to certain conversations, even conveying sarcasm which is no easy task in comics.

April’s plan grows and evolves as new obstacles are thrown her way. Fortunately her fellow Roanoke cabin residents are ready to help out by any means necessary. There’s a great sequence that shows just how far they’re all willing to go for Jo with Mal confronting her fear of the water. We bounce between the past and the present as we see how we got to this point. Colorist Maarta Laiho shades the flashback panels in a not quite black-and-white shade that distinguishes them from the rest of the sequence. It also underscores just how serious this is for Mal.

Lumberjanes has always been about friendship and this issue is no different. It’s a positive, life-affirming comic that virtually anyone can read. If you’re not loving Lumberjanes, you probably hate fun.

Lumberjanes #57 from Boom! Studios is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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