The other day out of no where I was digging around on Comixology (via my phone, which I hate to read on cuz SMALL) when I noticed there was a new Lumberjanes book out that I somehow didn’t get an auto-alert about! Right? Like, what the hell?! I’m used to getting a handy dandy little notice when a comic I subscribe to has a new issue about to be released, but somehow this one slipped through the cracks! I did what any diligent reader would do: I pulled up the main site (on my home computer, not on my phone, cuz it’s impossible to navigate on my phone for some reason. Maybe it’s just me.)(MOST LIKELY it’s just me!) and checked out the Lumberjanes books currently available. Lo and behold, there was indeed a brand new book available! Its a spiffy little one off special called ‘Lumberjanes, Beyond Bay Leaf’. Get it, ‘Beyond Bay Leaf’ sounds like ‘Beyond Belief’. Mmhm, clever! Also, check out this adorable logo:
I guess that’s the ‘badge o’ the month’, as it shows up on the title page where they normally show whatever new badge the LJ’s are aiming to earn. So cute! I love this little logo, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this showed up as a tattoo on my arm-meats some time in the not too distant future. Adorable! But I digress.
Our story opens with Jen leading the LJ’s on a late night trek into the woods for some star gazing. The girls are all tired, though, and they mostly just want to go back to their cabin for some shut eye. Jen reminds them they’re no strangers to the random late night excursion, which is true!
And really, they ought to indulge Jen a little. She’s a great leader, and she lets them get away with ALL the shenanigans! Ripley is game; Mr. Sparkles her stuffed pony needs the fresh air and a chance to romp.
I love Ripley. She’s just the best! Such a cute kid, and I love that she’s not above bringing her favorite stuffed animal along to camp. They find a clearing in the woods to set up a telescope with the hopes of finding a new comet to name when weirdness ensues! I mean, it had to happen. These are no ordinary woods, and these are no average campers, after all! Ripley spots a ghost pony and rushes off to investigate. They marvel (you all saw it, they marveled!) at Ripley’s speed and soon loose her in the trees.
Ripley, meanwhile, manages to find the ghost pony. Swear to god, I instantly had flash backs to watching The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle, as a kid when I saw these panels:
It reminded me immediately of when Molly sees the Unicorn for the very first time. If you haven’t seen it, check it out! It’s one of my all time favorite animated movies. Yes, the musical numbers are kinda horrible, and no one would ever say Mia Farrow is much of a singer, but the story is amazing and the art is beautiful. There’s also a STUNNING comic book version of The Last Unicorn that was released a few years back.
Anyway… the ghost pony, or Ghosty as Ripley has named it, tells Ripley that it’s in need of assistance. Ripley agrees, cuz that’s what Lumberjanes are all about- helping those in need.
Somewhere across the woods, the rest of the LJ’s are lost and April is a little annoyed that Ripley would go rushing off like that when everyone knows there are no such things as ghosts!
Jo’s sentiments match my own to the letter here. After all the weird goings-on they’ve dealt with, how could April even bat an eyelash at ghosts? Ghosts seem downright pedestrian compared to some of the things they’ve encountered.
Speaking of strange things in the woods, the LJ’s run into a giant woman toting around a dead deer and other recently deceased critters. Frankly, I would run at this point, but that’s just me. The LJ’s are definitely startled, but the mysterious stranger explains the critters are her dinner, and introduces herself as Sola.
Things get a little creepy (as if they weren’t already) when Sola mysterioulsy announces that she knows they have a missing member, because they’re not a complete set. The girls try to convince her they’re just boring ol’ campers, but would anyone buy that at this point?
Be that as it may, Sola’s not exactly wrong. They admit their friend Ripley is missing in the woods, and Sola agrees to help them find her in the morning. The LJ’s catch some shut eye by the fire…
Yeah, that’s not creepy at all!
Meanwhile, Ripley is still wandering around with Ghosty, who informs her that she’s being hunted by none other than Sola herself! I just knew that lady was up to no good! Ghosty tells her the sad, sad tale of how all its ghost pony friends were hunted down one by one and… Seriously, it’s exactly like The Last Unicorn, but instead of a giant evil Red Bull chasing the Unicorns down, it’s a pack of spooky glowy eyed wolves hunting down ghostly ponies.
Just then the spooky pack finds Ripley and Ghosty in the woods, and they race to get away from them! They catch up to the other LJ’s and Sola, who’s got evil intentions of catchin’ ’em all. The Lumberjanes have other ideas, though! Jo steals Sola’s magic crystal (where she stores all her kidnapped ponies and probably lots of other things/people she’s collected through the years) and tosses it to Ripley to destroy. Sola tries to bargain with her, offering to keep the LJ’s there at camp for the rest of eternity so they’ll never grow up and lose touch, they’ll always be friends for ever and ever, amen… But Ripley is smart and isn’t having any of what Sola’s selling!
With the magic crystal broken, all the kidnapped ponies are freed and they explode out into the forest- EXACTLY like when all the unicorns were freed from their watery prison in The Last Unicorn. Seriously, you gotta see it if you haven’t! Without their ghost pony essence to fuel her, Sola withers into a pile of ash and blows away.
Our group of heroes hikes back to camp where they reunite with Jen (who did manage to find a new comet, and name it after herself!) The story ends with Ripley waving goodbye to Ghosty, who’s free to go join its long lost friends in the woods once again! Yay, happy ending! What a great one off story! I love how Ripley-centric it was, and I love, love, LOVED how very reminiscent it was of one of my all time favorite stories ever. I makes me love the Lumberjanes more when they reference a classic fantasy story like The Last Unicorn that was such a massive piece of my childhood. Like, the idea of summer camp is already super nostalgic, but then BOOM! Extra nostalgia! Love it. Yes, it’s a diversion from the main on-going story, but its a great effort by writer Faith Erin Hicks and artist Rosemary Valero-O’Connel. Definitely worth it the five bucks!
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