REVIEW: ‘Monkey Prince,’ Issue #1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Monkey Prince #1

Marcus Sun is a regular Chinese-American high schooler who leads a relatively normal life. But when he meets the mysterious janitor Mr. Zhu who takes a special interest in him, Marcus discovers that he is anything but normal. And when a certain Dark Knight from his past arrives at his school, Marcus will find himself amid more chaos than he ever bargained for. Monkey Prince #1 is written by Gene Luen Yang, with art by Bernard Chang, colors by Sebastian Cheng, letters by Janice Chiang, variant covers by Stanley “Artgerm” Lau, Dustin Nguyen, and Zao Dao, and edited by Jessica Chen.

Created by editor Chen and writer Yang, Marcus was introduced in the DC Festival of Heroes: The Asian Superhero Celebration #1. He is the son of Sun Wukong, AKA The Monkey King, a legendary hero in Chinese and other Asian stories since his introduction in the 16th Century Chinese novel Journey to the West, which was said to be written by Wu Cheng’en. The original legend informs Yang’s take on his son, and Journey to the West is very much treated as a real event in DC Comics mythology. Yang seamlessly blends the classic story into the modern age. None of the several fantastical events packed into this issue feels random, and they fundamentally serve to push Marcus’ narrative forward.

Yang smartly keeps the narrative firmly with Marcus as a relatable teenager reacting to the extraordinary circumstances thrust on him. The story sweeps us along easily with Marcus through these bizarre circumstances, and we are left with equal parts of wonder and poignancy. We’re only at the beginning of Marcus’ story and Monkey Prince #1 leaves us with more questions for the story to answer going forward. It’s clear that Yang has a lot planned for our new hero, and it’ll be very exciting to read it in the following issues.

Chang’s art and Cheng’s colors are fantastic, immersing us further in Yang’s thrilling story. Chang’s art is sheen, and he gives a great sense of movement for Marcus and the other characters. The details on the costumes and facial features are intricate and vivacious, drawing your attention panel to panel. Cheng’s colors are rich and varied, and you get a splash of vibrant color on almost every page. The attention to the various skin tones of the characters is also very good, making Marcus’ world feel even more lived-in. 

The lettering by Chiang is excellent, as she efficiently places Yang’s words in spaces that never distract from the action on the page. In addition, there are great sound effects and non-verbal sounds used. The inclusion of Chinese script in dialogue in certain panels is also great, tying this story even further back to its origins.

Monkey Prince #1  is a fantastic first issue for DC’s newest hero. Yang writes a fantastical yet relatable story, the art by Chang and Cheng is vivacious, and the lettering by Chiang ties everything together. It’s a bold story that takes inspiration from the past to make something truly original for the DC universe. It’ll be fascinating to see where the Monkey Prince’s story goes after this inaugural issue, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Monkey Prince #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.


Monkey Prince #1
4.5

TL;DR

Monkey Prince #1 is a fantastic first issue for DC’s newest hero. Yang writes a fantastical yet relatable story, the art by Chang and Cheng is vivacious, and the lettering by Chiang ties everything together. It’s a bold story that takes inspiration from the past to make something truly original for the DC universe.