blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Monkey Prince (2022) #1

Mp1I’m not up on modern Batman takes, but… has everyone just agreed he’s a dick? Monkey Prince starts with a Batman cameo, then brings him (and Robin) into it for the cliffhanger. In addition to him being a dick, does every new book have a Batman cameo for the sales? Though Batman’s only on one of the variant covers. Maybe you assume Batman will be in all DC #1s?

Enough with the rhetorical questions; enough with Batman. Monkey Prince isn’t about Batman, though his initial cameo gives away some of the hook—little kid Marcus Sun wakes up one night and hears a commotion in the living room of his family’s Gotham City apartment. He stumbles out, wiping the sleep from his eyes, and sees Batman beating up on his dad. Batman leaves after making some bad parent judgments (really, how’s Jason Todd again?).

Marcus never figures it out, but it’s pretty obvious his parents are supervillains. They turn out to be science hench-people who leave town soon after, living in all the big DC cities before ending up back in Gotham when Marcus is a teenager. Unfortunately, he’s still got PTSD from interrupting that Bat-fight, which causes a panic attack at the swimming pool. He makes the mistake of bumping into one of the school bullies, who then pushes Marcus into the pool.

The school custodian takes an interest, trying to encourage Marcus to work past his trauma, something Marcus initially refuses. When he tries to do it himself, Marcus discovers he’s, well, a monkey prince.

The issue hints at a rich cultural history for the character—in addition to the teenage son of bad guys, writer Gene Luen Yang’s front and center about how Marcus’s Chinese heritage affects his daily experiences, including his bully further attacking Marcus for having a white mom. It gives Marcus some more ground situation personality, which helps since he’s mostly just having panic attacks this issue. He also meets his presumable love interest; so far, Monkey Prince feels like a new teen superhero number one. With some asterisks, sure, but Yang’s not deviating too far from the playbook.

Bernard Chang’s art ably toggles between action paces—the superhero action’s much different than the bullying—and the character drama. Chang and Yang pace it rather well.

The series is off to a fine start.

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