Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Monkey Prince #3 Review

Just A (Below) Average Teenager

Written by: Gene Luen Yang
Art by: Bernard Chang
Colors by: Sebastian Cheng
Letters by: Janice Chiang
Cover art by: Bernard Chang, Sebastian Cheng
Cover price: $3.99
Release date: April 5, 2022 

Monkey Prince #3 gets weird as Marcus starts training to learn about his powers while fending off overbearing Sifus, helping out would-be girlfriends, and fighting a Robin to save a bully(?!?).

Was It Good?
Monkey Prince #3 combines excellent art and a creative premise for a generally mediocre issue.

I want to like this new hero.  I want to enjoy his origin story as it plays out, but the negative quickly balances out the positive, leaving me ambivalent about what's going on.

 [Spoilers Ahead]

We begin with Marcus on Monkey Prince from getting some tough love training from his magical pig-man Sifu (translated as "teacher," typically applied in martial arts).  Marcus is at the heart of why this issue is difficult to buy into because he's not patient or intelligent, listens very well, or has any self-awareness.  In short, he's a dope.

Marcus possesses none of the brilliance or personality of his parents (biological or mystical).  On the one hand, you could say that makes him a very average teenager.  On the other hand, however, that also makes him a very average (you could argue below average) character and somebody you're more prone to be annoyed by than root for.


When Monkey Prince encounters his school crush, she asks for his help to find her brother, Riz, who also happens to be the school bully who has it out for Marcus.  Unfortunately, when Monkey Prince goes looking for Riz (thinking with his hormones instead of his head), he finds Riz strung up like a side of beef while interrogated by Damian Wayne, aka Robin.

 Offering to help his crush makes sense, even if it means helping out the bully who torments him.  But why, oh why does Damian have a student tied up and hung like a Christmas goose for interrogation.  Damian has a rep for being a jerk (and a killer), but what is happening here?  The entire sequence is out of character for Damian and serves no purpose other than to get the Monkey Prince and his crush in a Mary Jane/Spider-Man kiss moment.  When this title is already billed as a limited series, these time-wasting scenes are always a downer, especially when they're so contrived as not to make sense.


Later, Monkey Prince catches up to Sifu to find out that Golden Horn Demon/Penguin is holding Marcus's parent's hostage to lure Batman into a trap.  It's clear the conclusion to this arc will heavily feature a collision course with Batman (again), so maybe that will garner some interest.  Still, there hasn't been enough story to develop Monkey Prince as a hero or give him a reason to face evil until the very last page in this issue.  If Yang had left Batman out of this arc altogether and focused on what mattered instead of chasing bullies and crushes, there would have been more time to invest in Marcus's journey.  As it is now, this feels like a rush to get to hero status, riding on Batman's cape.

Writing and story aside, the art in this issue is excellent.  Bernard Chang's character designs are attractive.  Sebastian Cheng's coloring is outstanding, and Janice Chiang makes subtle-yet-effective use of color for the lettering.

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 #3 has potential if it can just get out of its own way.  Unfortunately, there's nothing remarkable enough about the main character to like.  Plus, there's too much reliance on Batman & Robin to do the heavy lifting.  As a result, the story wastes its time with extra scenes that do nothing for the character or the plot.  Monkey Prince #3 is not a bad issue, but it never rises above mediocre except for the art.


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