LUMBERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS by Lilah Sturges and Polterink
Plot
Characterization
Art
Summary
BOOM! Studios' new graphic novel LUMERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS taps into the heart of the LUMBERJANES series. Artist Polterink's delicate lines bring out the excitement in the charming new adventure by writer Lilah Sturges.
92 %
Full of Heart

The young hardcore lady types of Roanoke cabin return to their usual hijinks, shenanigans, and tomfoolery in BOOM! Studio’s first ever LUMBERJANES graphic novel — LUMBERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS. Certainly not strangers to getting lost in the woods, the gang finds that their Orienteering expedition has become, well, a little disorienting. Writer Lilah Sturges playfully honors the original characters, bringing the classic LUMBERJANES penchant for puns along for the ride. The graphic novel feels subdued, with only shades of grey and green to fill the pages. However, artist Polterink’s adorable character illustrations help readers find their bearings.

LUMBERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS sweetly addresses the anxieties of new relationships. Sturges focuses on Molly and Mal’s romance and how it affects their friendship with fellow Lumberjanes Jo, April, Ripley, and Jen. When Molly’s insecurities disrupt her internal compass, things start going very wrong with a certain magical compass. LUMBERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS relies on tropes from previous story arcs, including a mysterious older woman and the inexplicable magic of the camp’s surrounding forest. However, what the graphic novel lacks in originality, it makes up for with enthusiasm.

LUMBERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS
Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

Not Interested In The Straight And Narrow

The charming thing about the LUMBERJANES series is the campers’ inability to avoid trouble. If there is a magical needle in a cursed haystack, the Roanoke team will find it. And their overprotective camp counselor Jen will have no way of stopping them. The structure is tried and true, but each iteration somehow stays exciting. LUMBERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS is no exception. Sturges keeps the spirit of the LUMBERJANES alive, sending them off on another whirlwind adventure.

Another strength of Sturges’ writing is how she highlights the LUMBERJANES’ iconic philosophy: Friendship to the Max! The LUMBERJANES series uses the magical camp as a setting to convey lessons about the importance of friendship. Specifically, LUMBERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS plays with the pun of being emotionally lost versus physically lost to great effect. Either way, these lost campers find that friends often prove key in finding your way out of the woods.

LUMBERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS
Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

Adventures With Our Favorite Ship

LUMBERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS directs readers to everyone’s favorite ship: Mal and Molly. With the ship name Malmol, this pair is the adorable, awkward, young queer love story the world needs. Moreover, Sturges’ instinct to follow the series’ romantic subplot is an effective strategy. By exploring the Malmol story, Sturges gives readers a new perspective on the Roanoke team. Specifically, as Sturges focuses on Molly, she distills the other characters down to their most iconic selves. April is even more extra than in previous arcs, while Jo is more nerdy. The chaotic Ripley provides the perfect foil to the orderly Jen. Thus, the focus on the Malmol relationship gives LUMBERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS the direction it needs.

While past LUMBERJANES issues provide positive LGBTQ+ representation, the graphic novel takes time for nuance. Indeed, the series includes canon trans and queer characters and enjoys challenging the patriarchy directly. But LUMBERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS shows readers that Molly and Mal are more than the cute lesbian characters. Like most people in a new romances, Molly and Mal have their own anxieties and challenges. They are a cute couple, but they’re also good friends and great Lumberjanes in their own right. As a result, Sturges maps a new and more authentic image of queer relationships.

LUMBERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS
Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

Colorful Language And Dark Art

The graphic novel’s script pays careful tribute to the signature LUMBERJANES’ exclamations. In particular, “What the Rosalind Franklin!” and “Audre Lorde have mercy!” stand out for the brilliantly feminist humor that makes the series so enjoyable. Additionally, Sturges adds absurdly long names, silly witticisms, and expert comedic timing to add depth to the plot. Sturges’ writing works in harmony with Polterink’s charming illustrations.

Fans of the original series may be disappointed by the somewhat murky colors. The comics tend to burst with color, from April’s red hair to the shining yellow eyes of the forest’s magical creatures. By comparison, LUMBERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS feels anticlimactic. Nevertheless, the lack of other colors serves to make the glowing green compass stand out all the more eerily. Additionally, the change of pace gives readers a chance to focus on Polterink’s loving illustrations of the iconic characters. The delicate lines evoke a topographic map that matches the graphic novel’s theme. And the minimalism subtly captures movement and emotion, emphasizing each character’s face and reactions.

LUMBERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS
Image courtesy of BOOM! Studios.

LUMBERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS Is A Guide To Fun!

Whether you’re a diehard LUMBERJANES fan or a newcomer to the magical camp for young women, LUMBERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS won’t disappoint. Sturges’ careful writing stays true to the original cast of characters. It also carefully draws out important lessons for Molly and Mal as they move forward in their relationship. With delicate lines, Polterink’s illustrations pull readers into the story and create a spooky atmosphere unlike previous LUMBERJANES story arcs.

You can find LUMBERJANES: THE INFERNAL COMPASS here, starting October 17th. 

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