Monkey Face—sorry, Monkey Prince—sort of transcends this issue. The comic’s set over forty-five minutes to an hour, but isn’t a waste of decompression. Instead, Marcus the Monkey Prince has a very full after-school calendar. He gets some more training from the custodian, Mr. Zhu, who’s actually a mystical being (Shifu Pigsy), but most of his story has to do with dream girl Kaya.
Meanwhile, Shifu Pigsy will go on a demon hunt and determine the threat is even more imminent than he’d been thinking, and Marcus’s parents will have some workplace troubles. Marcus’s parents work for the Penguin, who has been possessed by the mystical villain, the Golden Horn. The Golden Horn is going to be Monkey Prince’s big bad—presumably, as Shifu Pigsy seems really worried about him.
Marcus isn’t interested in gold-plated Cobblepots, not when Kaya starts flirting with him. She’s got some questions about Monkey Prince and Marcus—like, why isn’t Marcus ever around when Monkey Prince is on the scene—and there’s also the matter of Kaya’s brother. Turns out it’s Marcus’s nemesis, The Riz, and he’s missing. Monkey Prince promises to find the missing dipshit.
At this point in the issue, writer Gene Luen Yang has completed a full enough comic book narrative gesture. He’s done character development, he’s done twists with Kaya, and there are the subplots with Pigsy and the parents. But then Monkey Prince delivers on the promise instead of kicking the can down the road for two more issues. Monkey Prince goes off to find the Riz, who’s being questioned by Boy Wonder Robin (the cover promises a Batman appearance, which thankfully doesn’t happen).
Monkey Prince and Robin have a fun, funny, and (gently) gross fight scene. Artist Bernard Chang does a good job throughout the issue, but something about the Robin fight just brings it all together. Visually, Monkey Prince is a strange combination. There’s the obvious “real-life” meets comic book, but there are also Chinese mystical beings in modernity as well as them interacting with men and boys in tights.
Good resolution, good cliffhanger. Yang’s doing a fantastic high school superhero comic here.
Oh, and the parents. I’ve been bearish on the parents, but this issue turns it around when they start Nick and Nora’ing as they contend with an even more dangerous Oswald Cobblepot.