Saturday, July 16, 2016

Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy #2 Review and **SPOILERS**

Remembering Wham! Rap ‘86

Written By: Chynna Clugston Flores
Art By: Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, Maddi Gonzalez, Whitney Cogar
Letters By: Warren Montgomery
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: July 13, 2016


I never went to a camp that ran all summer long, but I did go to a religious camp that took place the week before Labor Day for a number of years. It didn’t have any concentrations in archery or canoeing, but I did make a lanyard once and climbed these big boulders that were piled up outside of the theater/crafts space. I suppose you could say I received some religious indoctrination, but it’s a hippie dippie quasi-religion, so our workshops were like “Unlearning Racism,” and “Important Women in History.” Mostly, I goofed off and rehearsed for a talent show at the end of the week. But you know what? I remained close friends with a lot of those people for a long time. One of my best friends to this day is from that camp. I think there’s something about being in an unfamiliar space during your formative years, with other kids in their formative years, that foments a special familiarity. I’m sure that’s what brings the Lumberjanes together—plus, the fact that they fight monsters together. I wonder what keeps those Gotham Academy preppies so tight? Maybe we’ll find out together, if you read my review!

Explain It!

If you’re primarily a Gotham Academy fan, and want to know more about the Lumberjanes, you can read the beginning of my recap and review of issue #1 right here. And if you’re primarily a Lumberjanes fan, well, uh, I guess you can go back and read some reviews on this very site. We have reviewed every single issue, don’tcha know. So let’s jump right in: After being overtaken by these super tall, floaty skull-faced monsters, Jen and Olive Silverlock wake up in some weird bedroom that looks like it’s straight out of 1986. The (implied) movie posters for Back to the Future and Pretty in Pink are a clue, but the fact that there are two cheer flags on the wall that simply read “1986” drives the exact year in question home. It was a great year, incidentally, because the Mets won the World Series. So Olive and Jen are naturally freaked out and examine all of the 80s trappings here, including…a traditional land line telephone! I mean, come on…millennials know what a telephone is. Chances are there was at least one in their childhood homes, and you see them in movies and television shows all the time. Let’s not overstate things. Also in the room, Jen and Olive find and invitation to the downstairs salon, and two hideous, 80s style dresses they’re expected to wear: one all pink with black polka dots, the other blue with puffy shoulder sleeves. Jen and Olive are not happy about it.

Meanwhile, back at camp, the Gotham Academy kids and the Lumberjanes, er, gals are arguing about how best to proceed with retrieving Jen and Olive from certain danger. Speaking for the Lumberjanes is Jo, who thinks they should hunker down and come up with a plan. Kyle of the Gotham Academites, however, thinks they should rush right back to where those skull-headed floaty monsters took Jen and Olive and snatch them back. Everyone bickers for a while, in what might be the stupidest argument ever had by unmarried people, until a crying Maps declares how they will proceed: they will formulate a plan, but do so really quickly, thereby satisfying the criteria for both sides by half-assing both positions. And then we watch the Gotham City preppies and the rough-and-tumble Lumberjanes become best buddies, through a veritable 80s movie montage of changing clothes, eating, pilfering the supply closet, and developing a plan—except where it would be one scene in the 80s movie, this one goes on for pages and pages. In the regular Lumberjanes and Gotham Academy comic books, one of the most attractive things is that the characters are so individualized and, particularly in the Gotham side of things, not always so cheerful. But here, they all seem to act pretty much the same: bubbling over with enthusiasm for everything, making bland statements for the sake of nothing, and taking a real long time doing so considering Kyle was all gung-ho to rush headlong into danger shortly beforehand. These kids are all behaving like kids, just not like the characters I’ve come to know through reading the comic.

Back at the lodge, where Olive and Jen are being held captive, they’re snooping around the place and finding that not every room is open to them. As they observe a painting of the original lodge owners from 1984, a creepy tall skull-head appears and beckons them to the salon where all the guests are congregating. Curious, and probably also scared out of their wits, Jen and Olive follow the creature down a hallway but are yanked into a side room by two young people that look suspiciously like Professor MacPherson and Rosie. I’m just going to come out and say it now: it’s Professor MacPherson and Rosie. Olive and Jen don’t clue into this fact, since they expect a couple of ladies markedly older, but they help each other look for an escape anyway. While searching around, a couple of floaty monsters show up and tell them to make their way to the salon, or else. At the salon, the monsters tell Jen and Olive that they must observe some rules: in this place, it is 1986 at all times. Confuse or upset the matron of the place, Miss Louise, and there will be trouble. And it won’t be a ninety-second Mike Tyson fight, either. After they’ve been instructed, Jen and Olive are led to a banquet hall, and a long table with a bunch of teens seated around it. Everyone gets to talking, and it turns out they all went to Gotham Academy in the 1980s, as did Miss Louise…then I sort of tuned out for a while, but Jen and Olive finally realize that the two girls they met previously are Rosie and Professor MacPherson! And then Louise walks in, leaving a cliffhanger and also Jen’s sinking realization that the Lumberjanes and their new prep school friends are probably on their way to rescue her.

This was a pretty bland issue with a lot of talking, especially for a Lumberjanes book. We do learn some stuff about Rosie and MacPherson’s connection to Louise, through the private school and the summer camp, but it is squeezed by an absolute deluge of patter between the Lumberjanes and the Academy students that is largely indistinguishable between different characters. I really like the art, it achieves a middle ground between the normal art teams from both books, but is also very distinct and exacting, and just flat-out pleasant to look at. Colors are fantastic, too. But the story was lacking, and failed to properly capture the tone of either series.

Bits and Pieces:

For a crossover between two comic books about a bunch of adventurous children, this issue is a real bore. Most of it takes place inside various log cabins and lodges, which does lend the thing a romantic, "Mount Airy Lodge" kind of feel. The artwork is great and compliments the characters perfectly, but there isn't much else of substance here that should entice even the most hardcore fans of either comic book involved.


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