I have really liked the Lumberjanes series so far, but I gotta say number 5 was a little bit of a let-down. The basic storyline follows 5 friends and their camp counsellor through a summer of camp sponsored by a vaguely scout-like organization, the eponymous Lumberjanes. Except of course that this is not your typical scouting group, and not your typical summer camp. Strange events and encounters of the supernatural variety will happen, and the camp and its director are most certainly involved somehow. Each volume is subtitled with a label that hints at something important in the volume. My personal favorite has to be “Beware the Holy Kitten” (volume 1).
Volume 5, Band Together, does 2 new things. First is that the volume is split into 2 different segments, with distinct storylines and drawn by different artists. Second, one of the storylines presents the first real challenge to the group’s friendship (hence the subtitle).
Storyline 1 was really good. It goes back to the first day of camp and presents how the group met each other. We get some family background for each of the girls, and it’s pretty diverse. Jo has 2 fathers, Ripley is from a large mixed family, and Mal’s mother apparently doesn’t pay much attention to her. We don’t get much about Molly or April’s backgrounds, only that April and Jo already know each other. This section ends with Molly meeting her trademark raccoon hat (who tried to steal Ripley’s Mr Sparkles, but only because it was lonely), and the camp season beginning. This part connects to previous volumes both in terms of story, character, and a little bit of plot. The art is also in the same style as previous volumes.
Storyline 2 was the one I didn’t like as much. Part of this may have been because I was surprised by the different art style. The characters are drawn with more curve, and I liked the vaguely angular look established by previous volumes, which admittedly is a minor complaint, but it may have predisposed me to be a little pouty about the rest of the story. April and the rest of the group discover mermaids living in the lake, and one mermaid (who prefers “merwomyn”) they meet, Harlow, has a friendship problem. She was a founding member of a band, but left it after a fight with bandmates. The band is of course scheduled for a big performance, and April gets it into her head that the Lumberjanes need to help get Harlow and her band back together. This is difficult because other Lumberjanes have big projects of their own that April ignores, causing tension among the group. Chaos and eventual triumph ensues. What bothered me about this storyline is how cliché and standard it is as a friendship tale. Previous volumes also go with standard storylines, but they add something interesting or silly. The sea monsters’ role may have been the attempt here, but it just wasn’t enough.