When it comes to passion projects rooted in creators’ relationships with their own family, there is an air of skepticism. If you remember Marvel’s recent Spider-Man miniseries that was co-written by J.J. Abrams and his son, people appropriately accused the comic of being a case of nepotism, as well as a storyline that felt half-baked. At the start of Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters Vol. 1, its two creators, Laura and Chris Samnee, dedicated the title to their three daughters and have stated they were the main inspiration behind this all-ages miniseries, but are their intentions appropriate for everyone else?
Set in a post-apocalyptic world where giant monsters roam the lands that are beginning to dry up, Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters follows Rainbow, who has been searching for her younger sister Jonna for over a year after their home was demolished by one of these monsters. When Jonna is spotted in the wild, nearly feral and suddenly possessing the strength to punch out these monsters, can Rainbow reclaim that sibling love while the two try to survive in a world that may have more horrors than the gigantic beasts?
The initial pages contain little dialogue, instead opting for large panels that set up from the initial split of the sisters to then the small figure of Jonna leaping into action against a red giant monster. If this doesn’t capture your interest, then I don’t know what to say. So much of this comic relies on visual storytelling, and given Chris Samnee’s already impressive credentials such as Daredevil, he is at the top of his craft here.
In terms of the monsters themselves, Samnee has acknowledged the influence of Kaiju cinema in the designs, but I would also say there is a touch of Jack Kirby. With a titular character of a feral child with out-of-nowhere superhuman strength, the forces she faces are huge and considering how scary the monsters look, Jonna’s actions are grand, while adding moments of levity. Although you could view Samnee’s art as simplified compared to a more conventional comics look, the Kirby influence still shows, from the level of detail shown towards the environments, enhanced by Matthew Wilson’s bright coloring.
As for the story itself, conceived by the two Samnees – marking Laura’s debut book – there isn’t a great deal of plot as the premise is simply well-defined through the somewhat fractured relationship between the two sisters. Considering how dark post-apocalyptic fiction can be, this comic is perhaps setting something darker for the next volume. But here, the Samnees are about exploring the happiness and tragedy of human connection, balancing out with a comedic moment of Jonna eating a critter. You know, for kids.
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