Years ago, in Gotham city, a young boy, Marcus, wakes to find his parents menaced by an intruder.
Batman never has a chance to return as Marcus’s parents move around the United States for work. One day, though, they return to Gotham, enrolling Marcus in the local school. A run-in with bullies brings a kind word from the caretaker.
Marcus doesn’t take up the offer, but an incident next day will send him to find Mr Zhu
Monkey Prince #1 is huge fun, and having passed over it on my regular digital shop earlier this week, I’m especially pleased to be able to say that. I hadn’t liked the character’s attitude when he debuted in last year’s Festival of Heroes special, but here Marcus’s cockiness and dislike of superheroes makes sense. It was a tweet from Graeme McMillan of the Wait, What? podcast praising the debut issue that sent me back to the online shop, and thank goodness for that.
Because this comic is a blast. Writer Gene Luen Yang creates a potentially great character in Marcus, while his parents’ jobs – if you haven’t guessed, the comic lays it all out beautifully – serve as a story engine. A supporting cast is introduced with smoothness and economy, while the glimpse we get at Marcus’s ancestral homeland is intriguing. Yang’s story construction is first-rate, ‘Enter the Monkey part one’ is a well-paced, satisfying script.
Bernard Chang’s storytelling is also excellent, with thoughtful compositions that are sharply executed. Marcus and his parents are attractively designed – Laura and Winston look very good in tailcoats – while Mr Zhu has character to spare and the special guest villain is wonderfully creepy. Chang really shines as a newly empowered Marcus finally goes into action as the Monkey Prince.
Those vibrant colours come from Sebastian Cheng, while industry veteran Janice Chiang provides the excellent lettering, including the Chinese forms for the names of the creative team… not forgetting editor Jessica Chen.
Together they give us a story with – as Graeme said in his tweet – a Blue Devil vibe. Blue Devil starred in one of the best DC comics of the Eighties, a fun fantasy that never failed to bring a smile. Monkey Prince #1 made me smile a lot. How about you?