Chris and Laura Samnee launch the all-age friendly fantasy comic series Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters, with the opening issue just warming up.
After co-creating the Skybound Entertainment martial arts epic Fire Power with Robert Kirkman, Eisner Award-winning comic book creator Chris Samnee teams up with his wife Laura to launch the creator-owned fantasy title Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters. Published by Oni Press, the all-age friendly comic book introduces readers to an immersive fantasy world populated by myths and monsters with the relationship between two sisters serving as the story’s emotional core. And while the opening issue feels a bit all too brief, ending just as it begins to gain some serious narrative traction, the creative team has provided an inviting debut to dare readers to immerse themselves in the story’s welcoming world.
The Samnees’ title follows Rainbow, a young girl who has been fruitlessly searching for her sister Jonna for over a year after she went missing while the two were exploring a jungle. In this particular fantasy world, towering behemoths roam the countryside, monstrous and monstrously voracious, that have driven humanity to the brink of extinction as they shelter in the ruins of the old world. And while Jonna hasn’t been seen spotted after running off to see the monsters for herself, Rainbow intuitively knows that her sister is still alive in the wilderness as she braves the harsh outside world to find her.
With both Samnees writing the story together, the two are largely focused on introducing the world around Rainbow as she embarks on her epic search. That means the narrative excels when it isn’t preoccupied with dialogue and exposition but instead pulls back to unveil the scope of the world that the creative team has crafted. And fortunately, there really is only one sustained dialogue-driven sequence in this whole opening issue to catch readers up on the premise once the main characters have been introduced; the Samnees know that they’re writing primarily for middle-grade audiences and don’t bog down their narrative with an overabundance of exposition. Instead, the writers keep their paneling relatively clean to better showcase the issue’s artwork and invite readers in.
And what a showcase it is. Working with colorist and longtime artistic collaborator Matthew Wilson, Chris Samnee has delivered a welcoming world full of untamed, prehistoric sensibilities that benefit its Land of the Lost style premise. The environments are lush and while there isn’t a lot of action in this debut issue to speak of, the kinetic sensibilities that Samnee imbued his superhero work on Daredevil and Black Widow to great effect are hinted at here. The character and monster designs in this fantasy world are engaging enough, with the latter hinted at going even bigger as the creative team is poised to lean more into the survivalist possibilities of their core premise and delving deeper into the fantasy world with the game now afoot.
For better or worse, the opening issue of Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters reads like an extended prologue, only teasing at the possibilities of the story and world that the Samnees have created. There are big things to come but, with the increased emphasis on the series’ artwork, with the team really cutting loose on the visuals, the true scope and main characters are only just introduced. There is a big, immersive adventure, driven by Samnee’s gorgeous visuals on the horizon and this opening issue is just the tip of the iceberg of the story that the creative team is putting together.
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