Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Monkey Prince #1 Review

As Fun As A Quarter-Filled Barrel Of Monkeys

Written by: Gene Luen Yang
Art by: Bernard Chang
Colors by: Sebastian Cheng 
Letters by: Janice Chiang
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: February 1, 2022

Monkey Prince #1 introduces readers to Marcus Shugel-Shen. A skittish teenager who wrestles with the memory of an unpleasant encounter with Batman when he was a young boy. Now, his fears are the least of his problems when school pressure and bullies force out a dormant power that transforms Marcus into the Monkey Prince!

Was It Good? 

Well... it's not great, and it's not terrible.

Monkey Prince #1 is DC's latest attempt at bringing a broader swath of cultural heroes into the Multi... the Omni... the whatever DC calls a universe these days. The Monkey Prince is a spiritual offspring(?) of the Monkey King from Chinese mythology, so this is an opportunity to leverage myths and legends from another country, bring some much-needed flair to the DC-whatever-verse, and kick off a new hero that doesn't look or act like a less-good version of an existing DC character.

The highlight of the issue is the fantastic art by Chang, Cheng, and Chiang. Colors pop, the characters are highly expressive to project as much emotion as possible, and what little action there is looks dynamic and energetic.

The down point of the issue is Yang's shortcut-laden story. This issue is a sprint to get from A to B to C with little room to get to know the main character or understand how he becomes the Monkey Prince. Marcus is transformed, costumed, and in a full-on battle against a known superhero in a single issue. It's almost as if Yang was told to get the origin out of the way as quickly as possible without troubling himself with the details. It's a rushed story filled with shortcuts, and it reads that way.

"Wait, wait, wait!" you insist. "Why so picky, Mr. Super Reviewer?" First, thank you for the compliment. Second, I'm being picky because this is a golden opportunity for DC to expand its roster uniquely, and they're flubbing it. Immediately after finishing it, there are a lot of questions that come to mind. Many of them are questions a reader shouldn't be asking.

How is Marcus the son of the Monkey King when his parents are alive and well? How is this hero bringing in cultural diversity when everything about Marcus's life is depicted as an average American adolescent growing up in notable DC Comics cities. Why do Marcus's parents both have hyphenated last names (you'll know it when you read it)? Why is Marcus's mother offering to buy him weed to help him relax? 

Why is Marcus not reacting like any normal human being would when he's followed home from school by burp clouds? What's a burp cloud? Has anyone ever actually seen a burp cloud? It's as if the little quirky special effects you're used to finding in a Manga were suddenly transported into the real world but nobody is batting an eye about it.

Yes, these are nitpicking, but there are so many that it's hard to just relax and enjoy the story. However, if you peel back the swarm of minor flaws, the core components of Marcus are also not great but not terrible either.

 In all, this is a poor, mediocre start to DC's latest hero. Perhaps issue #2 will be better.

Make sure to listen to our Weekly DC Comics Recap and Review Podcast to hear us talk more about this book.  Just look up "Weird Science DC Comics" anywhere you listen to podcasts, and make sure to rate, review, and subscribe!

Bits and Pieces

Monkey Prince #1 is a decent, middle-of-the-road origin story about DC's latest teen superhero. The art is excellent and the highlight of the issue. However, the writing and overall plot are filled with too many minor flaws and rushed shortcuts to get readers hooked on the character, making for an underwhelming debut.


No comments:

Post a Comment