Jonah is an exciting story from the Bible. Amongst other things in the story you find a prophet trying to rebel against God, the same prophet being swallowed alive by a whale, and a wicked city known for its brutality and violence. It’s a story ripe for comic adaptation.
This is the second comic I’ve reviewed from fairly new publisher Kingstone Media. Their mission statement is to be the Marvel of Christian comics. In my review of their Esther comic I stated that with that issue they reached their goal. Unfortunately this issue doesn’t quite reach the same level.
With Esther they got a very talented artist that has worked for Marvel to do the pencils. Jonah also features art by a former Marvel artist, Danny Bulanadi (though one who worked for them years ago), but despite that the artwork is not especially exciting.
Glancing over just some of the previous work Bulanadi did at Marvel I saw a few comics from back in the day that I still own and love. His West Coast Avengers issue where Captain America fights Hawkeye still brings a smile to my face. Nonetheless his work on this book is just okay. The fact that today’s comic art standards are different from decades ago I’m sure plays a part in it but even just going by the comics he did in the past his work on this issue isn’t at the same level. It’s good but it’s not what I had hoped for given the artist and the other comics I’ve seen from Kingstone.
On the positive side Bulanadi of course gets all of the essentials done right. The figures, clothes, animals are all well done. He sets the scenes really well with good background work with architecture and scenery that give the impression of sweeping views. There’s also use of a variety of angles that keeps things interesting. On the negative side there’s just something that’s lacking. Overall the emotion and drama that the story of Jonah deserves and that makes for a great comic just doesn’t seem to be captured. To confirm what I was feeling about it I went back through the issue and just looked at each face. Only a few in the issue show significant, really evocative emotion. Considering the range of emotions in this narrative (horrified, angry, excited, relieved) I was hoping for more.
Like the art, the writing is also enjoyable but with some stiffness. The story is portrayed through a lot of narrative text with actual dialogue from the characters in the minority. And while the story itself is exciting there are times where the narrating comes across as a dry description of what’s happening rather than adding to the tension. I’m of the opinion that if something can be portrayed in the art or through dialogue rather than through narration those are the better routes to go.
There are two other little things that are worthy of note. One is that as with the other Kingstone books that I’ve read that are based directly on Bible stories Jonah also has scripture references which is a great little addition. The other is that there are few very cool final pages that give information about the feasibility of the Jonah story, giving historical references as well as talking about the aquatic creatures living in that region of the world that could swallow a man whole. It also includes examples of people and animals that have actually been swallowed for considerable lengths of time and yet survived the experience. Of course to believe in God speaking to Jonah requires faith and for the sea creature to arrive at just the right time requires a miracle, but it’s nice to have this extra info about how it could happen included nonetheless.
Compared to some of Kingstone Media’s other issues I found Jonah less impressive. If you’re just looking for one to try out there are better options to start with but if you’re a fan of the Jonah story in particular this is still solid enough to give a try.