This is my first time recapping Lumberjanes, and I have to say, there is no better issue to have come in on than issue 13 because it’s a great big flash back introduction to all the LJ’s on their very first day at camp. It’s a brand new day, and if you’d never read the book at all before this would be a pretty fun one to jump in with and get to know all the characters.
The issue opens with scout master Rosie wandering through a very empty camp, getting things ready, raising the flag over the cabins. Things are beyond quiet, quieter than in any issue prior. Cut to Jo in the backseat of her parent’s car as they drive her into the woods. Can I just take a moment and say that we live in an amazing time in which it’s perfectly OK for there to be a multiracial family with two dads raising a daughter in a comic book? How great is that?! I wish there had been anything like that around when I was a wee youngin’. Plus, Jo’s family seems super awesome. They’re all eager for her to use her big genius brain at robotics camp, but Jo is excited to return to the Lumberjanes where she can see her friend April and have one last super fun summer where she can just enjoy being a normal kid.
Cut to Ripley’s family as they drive her to camp, and it’s total chaos! Ripley has a large family, with what looks like eight siblings, her parents, and her grandmother all there in the van with her. (Her little abuela is reading Tween magazine, so cute!) Her brothers and sisters are a rambunctious crew, and I love how they’re all drawn doing their own thing. We don’t get to see a lot of them, but you can see individual personalities even in just a few short panels. Ripley manages to get gum in her hair, but Jen assures they can do something about that.
Later on, April makes her first appearance as her dad drops her off. She’s hefting a ton of luggage in one hand like she’s got super hero strength, and tosses a bag onto the bunk of her choice only to find it’s already occupied by a growling Ripley! April wins her over with snacks, and then tells her she’s great at make overs. They rush off to the arts and crafts cabin to find scissors and solve all of Ripley’s hair woes.
Meanwhile, Mal is heading to camp in the back of a cab. On the drive, she tells a totally disinterested cabby all about how her mom didn’t even notice she was signing the forms for Lumberjanes camp and not music camp and probably didn’t care as long as she was shipped off somewhere for the summer. Ah, parents can be awesome, can’t they? She sees another camper (Molly) about to drop something and catches it for her. They both discover their in the Roanoke cabin, so they decide to walk over together in what I think it’s safe to say is the start of a totally adorable blossoming summer romance.
Back at the cabin, April has indeed given Ripley a makeover, and this new hair cut totally matches her little fireball wild girl personality. Jo arrives and finds she’s also in their cabin. She and April greet each other with their super secret handshake and many hugs. Molly and Mal finally arrive, followed by Jen and now that the gang’s all together the fun can begin!
Well, almost. Jen sits the girls all down and attempts to go over the rules of the land with them, when a sneaky little woodland thief runs off with Ripley’s stuffed unicorn, Mr. Sparkles! The girls all give chase, in spite of Jen telling them not to go into the woods. What’s a good camp counselor to do but follow them, right? She gives chase, but it’s a mad dash and the girls all run in different directions. The little bandit gives them a good run for their money, but accidentally slams into Molly and knocks them off a cliff. Thankfully they both land safely, and the raccoon finds a new home. Molly gets her first inkling that things might be a little bit unusual at this summer camp.
She hikes back just in time for Rosie to greet all the campers, and the Roanoke cabin is reunited, dirtier but no worse for the wear. I know this is issue 13 and a LOT has happened prior to this, but I thought this was a great issue and a really fun thing to do mid-story. Like, all sorts of crazy mad-capped supernatural shenanigans occur later on (er, or before, in issues 1-12, but later chronologically), but on this first day flash back it’s nice to see how the girls all came to be there, and how even right at the beginning they were building new friendships and there was a real sense of camaraderie. It was also nice to see the differences in their families. The diversity of these characters is one thing that really makes this book accessible to so many readers and just plain awesome.
Onward and upward!
Issue 14 opens with the LJ’s out in the woods. They’re busy trying to set up camp, with semi-disastrous results, and Jen laments that they have no survival skills because camp director Rosie just lets everyone run around all willy-nilly.
Jo reminds them all it’s no real problem if they can’t get the tent up, because they can just sleep under the stars (which sounds rather glorious, if you ask me.) The thought it short lived, though, when a full on blizzard erupts out of nowhere! Worse still, creepy weird beasts are roaming around in the snow storm!
The snow is thick and flying furiously in the wind, and the LJ’s get separated. Jen is startled by a slathering antlered wolf critter rushing at her and falls off an embankment, only to be surrounded by a whole pack of the menacing creatures! Luckily, a mysterious stranger appears in the snow and saves her from impending doom!
Later on at a cabin in the woods…
You ever notice how nothing good can ever happen at a remote, creepy cabin in the woods? Well, this is no exception. Jen wakes up in what appears to be a warm, inviting cabin and we’re introduced to Abigail, the stranger who saved her. Jen is impressed by all her ribbons and trophies, but totally blown away when Abigail shows her a room filled with her real trophies: the taxidermied carcasses of dozens of supernatural monster-types, including, but not limited to, a real jackalope! As exciting as all that is, (and gross? Am I the only one who thinks that’s gross?) Jen is eager to get back to her girls, and then discovers that Abigail herself was a Lumberjane years and years ago when pictures were still all sepia tone.
Things get stranger still when Jen finds a room full of dynamite. Abigail tells her its for ice fishing, but its a LOT of dynamite and Jen doesn’t look too sure about that… but she’s distracted when Abigail tells her she has her own library cuz BOOKS!
Elsewhere, Rosie shows up riding a giant moose and saves the other LJ’s, bringing them back to camp. Rosie is possibly the most awesome scout master EVER, I mean how bad ass is that? The girls can’t leave Jen out there alone, and even though they know Rosie is going back out to find her, they take it upon themselves to rescue their counselor. They get lost in the snow, though, and wind up at the Scouting Lad’s camp. Barney volunteers to help them out, as he’s got his tracking badge. Jo seems a little bit put off by all this extra help, though.
Rosie runs into the cantankerous old Bear Woman, and learns that Abigail is back. She seems shocked that Abigail wouldn’t have told her she was back in the woods, and the Bear Woman says she thinks the former LJ is up to something. She also thinks maybe Rosie would have a better chance of talking to her than she would, since they had that weird thing together… whadda ya call it?
Right, that. Together they race off into the weirdest blizzard of all time to rescue Jen and we’re all left wondering what will happen to our favorite group of campers as they battle the perils of weird woodland creatures and bizarre blizzards. I hate these cliff-hanger endings!
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