New year, new comics! That's the famed motto right? If you're looking for a new favorite to lose yourself in this year, then you might be asking where do I start? Luckily, we here at DC.com are available to help satisfy all your reading requests in this very delightful weekly column where we suggest a great comic that you should spend your free time reading. (We suggest doing it over the weekend, but really, any time you have a free hour or two will work.) This time round I've got something really special for you. One of DC's newest and most exciting heroes has had his series collected for the very first time! Yep, Monkey Prince Vol. 1: Enter the Monkey is on shelves now. This engaging trade collects Monkey Prince #1-6 as well as the story where Marcus Sun debuted in the brilliant 2021 one-shot DC Festival of Heroes: The Asian Superhero Celebration, all of which are also available on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE, if you prefer to read your comics digitally. Either way, here's why Monkey Prince should be your next Weekend Escape.
Offering a new spin on the Chosen One trope that's so prevalent in superhero stories, Monkey Prince introduces readers to Marcus Sun, a seemingly normal teenager who was traumatized after he saw Batman assaulting his parents as a child. But as we quickly come to learn, Marcus is actually the son of Sun Wukong, the famed Monkey King, and thanks to that, he has fantastical powers and a greater journey ahead of him than just scraping by at Gotham High. This sets him on a path of superheroic self-discovery and pits him against the shadows and anxiety of his childhood trauma as he has to face down none other than Batman. It's a fun new twist on the superhero origin that also acts as a brilliant introduction to the expansive lore of Wu Cheng'en's massively influential classic 16th century Chinese novel, Journey to the West.
Let's Talk Talent:
Monkey Prince boasts a roster of all-star comic book talent: multiple Eisner and Harvey award-winning writer Gene Luen Yang, superstar artist Bernard Chang, acclaimed colorist Sebastian Cheng and renowned letterer Janice Chiang. I always get excited when I see that Janice is lettering a book as she's one of the names I've been seeing in my comics since I was a child. She's at her best here and is joined by an all-Asian creative team that makes Monkey Prince feel like an instantly classic DC hero even though this is his very first adventure. Chang and Cheng craft a visual landscape that feels slick, exciting and modern while also echoing the timeless style of the DC superheroes that have come before.
A Few Reasons to Read:
- A new perspective on the DC Universe: As fans of the sprawling world of DC, we often wonder what it looks like to actually live within the cities that our favorite heroes patrol. In Monkey Prince, we get a ground level view of just how terrifying and overwhelming that can be, especially if your parents get on the wrong side of Batman. It's this juxtaposition that makes Monkey Prince so fascinating. Sure, Marcus Sun is the titular mythical hero, but he's also a normal teenager trying to survive in a world filled with meta-humans who can break into your home and beat up your dad if they feel like it.
- Lose yourself in epic fantasy storytelling: Comic book superheroes are fantastical by their very nature, but Monkey Prince takes that one step further. Marcus' life and powers are intrinsically connected to the magical world of his father Sun Wukong, the famed figure known as the Monkey King. That makes Marcus a legacy hero in a totally new way for DC. While his father might not be a well-known DC hero, the Monkey King is a famed folkloric figure in China and beyond. You've seen the Monkey King inspire many stories including some of your favorite TV series like Avatar: The Last Airbender, Dragon Ball Z, Into the Badlands and even an episode of Wishbone! To have him become a part of the wider DC Universe makes a lot of sense. Plus, we get to explore the lore in a whole different way with Marcus and Monkey Prince as our entry point.
- Fall in love with that killer character design: With the Monkey Prince, Bernard Chang created a truly unique look for a DC superhero. It's cool, slightly surreal and comes with both a logo and armor inspired by his mythical origins, not to mention a super sick pair of kicks. As Chang told DC.com, "The Monkey Prince is a teenager named Marcus going to high school, so you know whatever he’s wearing has to have some hotness to it."
Why It’s Worth Your Time:
Dynamic, heartfelt and action-packed, this is the perfect read for superhero heavyweights or newcomers to the DC Universe. This debut volume is a great introduction to a brand new character that DC seems to be all-in on, while also serving as a slick showcase for the immensely talented creators behind it. Plus, you get a great primer on one of the most influential stories ever told. Basically, this is one of the most exciting DC comics of the last few years and this weekend is the perfect time to pick it up and meet your new favorite hero.
Rosie Knight is an award-winning journalist and author who loves Swamp Thing, the DC Cosmic, and writing about those and more here at DC.Com. You can listen to her waxing lyrical about comics, movies, and more each week as she co-hosts Crooked Media's pop-culture podcast X-Ray Vision.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Rosie Knight and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.