reflection

Despite feeling a bit rushed, Monkey Prince #1 is a refreshing blast of a debut issue with an immensely fun script and phenomenal artwork.
Writing/Plot
Pencils/Inks
Colors
Letters

Review: A Blast Of Chinese Mythology In MONKEY PRINCE #1

From writer Gene Luen Yang (Dragon Hoops, Superman Smashes The Klan) and artist Bernard Chang comes an ancient legend arriving in the DC universe with Monkey Prince #1. Featuring colors by Sebastian Cheng and letters from Janice Chiang, this opening issue is a gorgeous, wildly fun, and inventive take on one of the oldest stories in literature. While it does feel a tad rushed and throws a lot at the reader very quickly, this first chapter in an exciting ride I’m looking forward to seeing more of.

“Introducing the newest hero in the DCU, the great sage, equal to the heavens, better than his predecessor the legendary Monkey King, even better than the Justice League—and definitely the Teen Titans—(actually, all the heroes combined), everyone put your hands together for…the Monkey Prince! Marcus Sun moves around a lot because his adoptive parents are freelance henchpeople, so this month he finds himself as the new kid at Gotham City High School, where a mysterious man with pig features asks Marcus to walk through a water curtain to reveal himself as who Marcus really is…someone who has adventured through The Journey to the West, can transform into 72 different formations, can clone himself using his hairs, and is called…the Monkey Prince!”

Writing & Plot

Gene Luen Yang‘s script for Monkey Prince #1 is full of an infectious enthusiasm that’s hard not to love. There’s an almost Saturday morning cartoon type of energy to this comic, and I found myself smiling through much of the reading experience. We meet Marcus Sun as a high schooler traumatized by his first-hand experience with an angry superhero (due to the fact that his parents are for-hire goons). Rather suddenly, we then get dipped into the mythical and magical hijinks of him becoming the Monkey Prince, heir to the power of the Monkey King. Yes, that Monkey King. I won’t get into any more details at risk of spoilers, but if you’ve ever read or are familiar with Journey To The West (or ever watched Dragonball), then this issue will doubtless be a treat.

Yang’s utilization of the classic mythical property is inspired, and it never gets in the way of the main plot. There’s almost no exposition, so the pacing stays lightning-fast and new developments come very quickly. This method fits the tone comic very well, but it can cause a bit of whiplash. Quite a lot gets thrown at the reader very quickly, so it can sometimes take a moment to gather what exactly is happening. This issue is saved by just how much of a joy this comic is to read. The character reveals are surprising and emotionally satisfying (whether that emotion be fear or delight), and the plot is an absolute joy to behold. This is the most outright fun I’ve had with a DC comic in recent memory.

Art Direction

The amount of exuberant energy the script for Monkey Prince #1 requires would need an especially talented artist to pull it off. Fortunately, Bernard Chang is on hand to deliver. His immensely detailed pencils and tight direction create a reading experience that is wickedly exciting to follow, and easy for a reader to fall into. Chang’s designs for characters new and old are intricately designed and animated. The classics are easy to recognize, and the new ones are sure to stay in your mind. Every character has unique features and is easy to recognize instantaneously. The design for the Monkey Prince himself is outwardly simple, yet obvious that Chang put a ton of work into. The character’s costume design is a perfect blend of mythical royalty and a modern superhero. Chang puts a ton of effort into placing these mythical beings and settings into the DC universe and making it feel seamless.

As phenomenal as Bernard Chang’s work is, it wouldn’t be nearly as effective as it is without Sebastian Cheng’s colors. His vivid, hi-fidelity palette pulls the reader into this read with a style that matches the energy of the pencils and script. Every panel leaps off of the page thanks to Cheng’s work here. The lettering from Janice Chiang is sharp and well-designed, with expressive fonts and effective SFX lettering that makes itself known but still stays out of the way. This is a stunning comic book from front to back, with an absolutely killer visual team.

Verdict

Monkey Prince #1 is an immensely fun new take on an old mythology that blends seamlessly into the DC universe. Gene Luen Yang’s script, while a bit rushed-feeling, creatively introduces a cast of iconic characters and stories into another universe of storied characters and does it with a blast of narrative energy. The visuals from Bernard Chang and Sebastian Cheng are stunning and brilliantly directed, making this one of the most fun and gorgeous DC comics in recent memory. Be sure to grab this debut issue when it hits shelves on 2-1!

Justin Munday
Justin Munday
Reader and hoarder of comics. Quietly sipping coffee, reading, and watching sci-fi in Knoxville, TN.
Review: A Blast Of Chinese Mythology In MONKEY PRINCE #1Despite feeling a bit rushed, Monkey Prince #1 is a refreshing blast of a debut issue with an immensely fun script and phenomenal artwork.