A couple of months ago it came to my attention that Gotham Academy was going to be co-staring in an upcoming mini-series alongside the cast of Lumberjanes. Having no idea what a Lumberjane was, I took to the Internet in the most briefest of searches to find out. Lumberjanes is a comic published by Boom! Studios in which a group of girls at a summer camp encounter monsters and the supernatural.
Since then, I hadn’t heard anything about it or given it much thought till last night when a member of the Batman-News team brought up the fact that it was released on Wednesday. As it turns out, since this comic is not being published by DC, it is also not being promoted by them. Hence, it completely flew under our Radar. I tell you these things not only as an apology to regular readers for being late in posting this review, but also to inform you that this review will definitely be different than my usual submissions. Not only am I writing this last minute (and somewhat hastily), but I am also nowhere near as knowledgeable on the subject matter as I would like to be. Since this is the first of six parts, I’ll definitely take the time in the coming month to do some more research, but for this review, I’m going in blind.
Our story opens on a moonless night in the middle of a dense forest. And we are greeted with these words:
Wow. That’s quite the mouthful. It has me wondering if that is the official name of the school or if it’s just hyperbole. Either way, it’s pretty funny. In any case, the opening scene establishes that a stranger has just moved into an old abandoned cabin hidden deep within the confines of the forest. Immediately after making this discover, Rosie is set upon by an unseen attacker and we are left wonder what happened to her. All within two pages this story has established humor, mood, mystery, and suspense. I’d say that is a pretty successful opening hook.
Our story then transitions to Gotham Academy, where it turns out that Professor Macpherson has gone missing. As the scene unfolds, several things are referenced that make it clear the writer of this story has spent some time perusing the pages of Gotham Academy. Obviously, that’s a good thing. It means that going forward we aren’t just going to get a story with a bunch of characters that look like the gang from Gotham Academy, but who also sound and act like them. Having said that, not every single character moment is as faithfully represented as I would have liked. It fluctuates in and out, where some lines are absolutely perfect and others seem off or misplaced. At one point Olive definitely utters a line that would have been better suited for Maps to have delivered. But since they hit their marks more often than not, I don’t have too much to complain about.
Something that I did find a little flimsy was the clue that will inevitably send them on a collision course with the rest of the cast. While searching Professor Macpherson’s office, which has been ransacked, Olive finds an invitation to a birthday party from 1986 lying on the floor amid piles of clutter. She points out that the card looks brand new even though it is dated 1986, which seems to be the only thing that makes her gravitate towards it being a potential clue. I’m sorry, but I have stuff from 1986 that look brand new. I don’t find anything odd about it being kept in perfect shape for 30 years. Unless by saying “brand new” the author meant it looks like it was printed using 2016 technology instead of 1986 technology. Which would make it an interesting clue. In any case, if that is what she meant, perhaps a different choice of words were in order to describe the invitation. I’m actually not the only one that found it flimsy though, as her own friends are skeptical as to Olive’s hunch. But with a rousing speech she manages to convince them to accompany her on a trip that will most likely get them all expelled from school with nothing more to go on than her feelings. But maybe I’m being unfair and it will all make sense later one. We’ll see.
From here on out, I’ll stop with the play-by-play so that you can discover the rest of the story for yourself and simply jump to general observations. The book is genuinely funny. Some of the jokes stem from poking fun at comic conventions and even storytelling conventions in general. It’s also got a witty nature to it that is primarily delivered through the character of Mal.
And wordplay humor which comes to us from April the redhead. But the funniest lines in my opinion are delivered by Pomeline, which I found surprising. You see, when the story first started, I felt that Pomeline was the most misrepresented of the gang. But as things unfolded, she fell more and more inline with previous depictions of herself and actually ended up having some of the best lines in the entire book.
Art for this issue is handled by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell. As a purveyor of Superhero comics, the art for this story was not to my personal tastes. It has what I like to call the Sunday morning comic strip look. I wouldn’t ever call it bad, but seeing as how I am simply accustomed to a different style of art in the pages of my comics, it felt weird to me. But still appropriate given that the book is primarily geared towards humor.
Question for Lumberjanes readers:
April kicks over a tree in this story. Does she have powers or something? Or should I just chalk that up to comics and move on?
Most out of character line: (in my opinion of course)
- While I appreciate the reference, it’s hardly the kind of thing I expect Olive to blurt out.
- You want your monthly dose of Gotham Academy while you wait for the “Second Semester” to start.
- You want to laugh.
When one considers that both Gotham Academy and Lumberjanes are books about groups of teens battling the arcane in an environment synonymous with youths, it’s not at all surprising that these two different properties have blended rather seamlessly together. Filled with plenty of humor and (for the most part) faithful representations of the Gotham Academy cast, I found it to be fully entertaining and definitely worth a read.
SCORE: 7.5 / 10