At the beginning of Jonna And The Unpossible Monsters, a young girl named Rainbow races through a forest after her little sister Jonna, who seems to be chasing after something herself. Soon, we get a glimpse of what Jonna’s been running after: an enormous dragon-like monster that towers over the trees. Jonna leaps through the air with a shout, hurtling towards the monster—and everything changes.
Jonna And The Unpossible Monsters is a new creator-owned, all-ages series co-written by the husband-wife team of Chris and Laura Samnee. The book, an epic fantasy adventure featuring bright, vivid art, seems well positioned to cater to the growing demand in comics for middle-grade audiences. The issue is gorgeous, full of wonderful visuals and action, though a bit light on story, especially for a first issue of a series. While the issue does help the reader get situated in an exciting new world, its lack of plot makes it feel more like a teaser and less like the beginning of a story. But that doesn’t make the Jonna any less beautiful to read.
Chris Samnee is one of the best comics artists working today, and Jonna #1 illustrates the growing maturity of his work, both in his energetic panel choreography and in character design. This is probably the most imaginative Samnee work so far, and—as in all his work—there is a strong focus on the careful portrayal of movement, large and small, as his art transitions seamlessly from bombastic action to the quiet movements of the everyday.
Samnee and Matt Wilson, who previously worked together on Daredevil and Black Widow, continue their successful partnership here, as Wilson wields a dynamic palette that brings the world of the unpossible to life. Wilson particularly shines in the forest settings (pay attention to the shadows on the trees and in Jonna’s hair). Adding to the dynamism of the book is letterer Crank!, whose letters not only match the energy and tone of the book, but organically synthesize with its movements.
Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters will probably be a great read in its collected trade form, where children and adults alike can delight in the gorgeous art and Rainbow’s adventures in the world of the unpossible. But in the format of a first issue, Jonna simply doesn’t pack enough of a narrative punch to satisfy. Sure, it looks and reads beautifully, but there’s just not enough story in this one issue to justify a trip to the comics shop.