Friday, January 20, 2023

Review: Monkey Prince #10

Monkey Prince #10 came out this week, the second part of his team-up with Supergirl and basically a prelude to Lazarus Planet:Alpha. Monkey Prince is definitely going to have a role in that crossover given the main villains, so I was glad to see that the main cover was adorned with some trade dress promoting it as a Lazarus Planet tie-in. I do think DC missed an opportunity here. Lazarus Planet:Alpha was a critical hit. DC really should have tossed the 'prelude' word on the cover to bring in more eyes. 

Writer Gene Luen Yang does a great job of pushing the title's storylines forward, embedding this story within the Lazarus Planet storyline, and shine a bright spotlight on the guest star Supergirl. Seriously, in some ways this reads like a Supergirl book with Monkey Prince as the guest. I love the interaction between the two as well. Supergirl is definitely the veteran here. She is amazing in this issue and it makes me wonder what a Yang/Chang Supergirl solo book would read like. 

While the Lazarus Planet:Alpha issue was able to stand alone perfectly, this issue truly builds on that story, filling in some of the questions I asked when I read it. So kudos to Yang. 

As always, Bernard Chang delivers beautiful art. This issue (and I assume this book) is a mix of big action and silliness. That is a tough line to walk. And yet somehow Chang is able to deliver monstrous battles and clone dandruff scenes effortlessly. 

If you like Supergirl in Lazarus Planet:Alpha, I would recommend seeking out this issue.

On to the book!

Last issue ended with Monkey Prince's uncle revealed as the Ultra-Humanite! And while the Prince flirted with Kara, the villain prepped to eliminate them both. 

We open up right where last issue ended. The heroes are still doing some bickering/bantering despite staring down the barrel of a gun. 

In some ways you can applaud Monkey Prince's efforts to flirt with Supergirl, here even implying that people would naturally assume they are partners and teammates because of their costumes.

But just as important is Supergirl's irritation with the incessant fawning. She isn't with him.

Yang again walks a fine line here. Unwanted advances aren't allowed in the 21st century. But here, it is clear that the Prince is just an immature fanboy and not a danger. Supergirl appropriately rebuffs him but doesn't come off as shrill or overly angry. 

The weapon fires hard-light projectiles infused with synthetic Kryptonite radiation. 

Monkey Prince leaps in front of the beam, potentially saving Supergirl. But the weapon also bisects him!

This is where you get the sense of the silliness of the book. The Prince is separated from his legs. He has to re-attach himself. He initially attaches himself backwards so his butt is in the front. It leads to some giggles and of course, the Prince being mortified. He is trying to impress Kara after all. 

I don't know too much about the Prince's powers. What I wouldn't give for some tiny box near the title of the story with a two sentence origin of the hero like we had in the old days! I guess in the days of the internet I should just be googling.

The delay allows Supergirl the opportunity to knock out the Ultra-Humanite with a brutal right cross to the jaw! (Perhaps I should have shared that panel!)

But timing is everything. At that moment, the Lazarus volcano erupts, spewing the magic resin over the world. Supergirl's hearing picks up the cries for help from Metropolis and knows where she has to be.

I love this panel. I love that Supergirl feels like she is a protector of Metropolis. I love the iconic pose and composition of the panel. 

I have to say that Monkey Prince's calling her pretty in the aftermath diminished the moment for me. I would have been so much happier if he seemed more in awe of her or impressed..

The resin has worked it's magic on the populace there with people mutating into monsters and seemingly acting on their baser instincts. Here, a classmate of the Monkey Prince has been turned into a Medusa-like monster and gone wild.

To make matters worse, Supergirl's powers are also effected. Here, she loses her powers completely.

I have to say, I am not a fan of this random 'loss and regain of powers' that happens in comics. The heroes never lose their powers when alone and flying. They always regain their powers at the most opportune moment. It leads to too many coincidences. I'd rather have it be some simple depowering or change of powers that is stable. 

As you'll see, Supergirl loses her power for a hot second, 'luckily' regaining them at just the right moment.

Ah ,,, more silliness.

Back in human form, Marcus realizes that his uncle is the Ultra-Humanite and can't figure out what to do next.

In the shower, he manifests the 'hair to clones' technique. A small sort of Chibi version of his Monkey Prince form comes out.

Tiny Chibi Monkey Princes?? 

I like the lighter aspects of the book as it stands in such contrast to much of what is on the rack these days.

As mentioned, Supergirl's super-powers kick in again, perhaps because she is indoors and out of the rain.

But great moment here where she uses a barber chair to bash the snake-haired mutate. 'Have a seat!' 

How often is Supergirl quippy?

And I really like the top panel by Chang. Nice angle, looking up. Plus her crazed expression with the shadowing is gripping.                                           

At home, Marcus sees news reports of Supergirl being battered in Metropolis and joins the fight. He uses the 'hair to clones' technique to overwhelm the Medusa-man with tiny clones. 

It is clear this is a worldwide phenomenon. Supergirl knows she needs to mobilize a team to deal with it. 

How great is this characterization for Supergirl? She is going to form a team to combat this. She isn't going to call Superman. She isn't going to stay local. She is going to lead the way, something we saw in Lazarus Planet:Alpha. So fantastic. 

As for the Ultra-Humanite, he sees that the properties of the Lazarus rain effects technology as well. 

Somehow the rain repairs a broken  Phantom Zone Projection lens he had. He'll use it to free the ancient Monkey God who is imprisoned there.

Perhaps this is Marcus' father? Anyone who reads this title, please let me know.

As for Supergirl and the Monkey Prince, they head to the Hall Of Justice where we see Kara send out the all points bulletin she did in the Lazarus Planet book. Now we see how her team formed. 

I must admit I really liked these last two issues so Monkey Prince will probably end up on my pull list. As I said before, this is just what a tie-in issue should do. It definitely was tied into the event. But it also kept the main title plots moving. As a new reader, it made me curious to read more. Perfect marketing!

Add a solid Supergirl appearance where she shines and I am an entertained reader.

Overall grade: A


Steve said...

I had low expectations for this series based on the Prince's intro fighting Shazam but I'm glad I trusted the writer. I especially like the use of the classic Peter Parker-Spider-Man schtick where the costumed alter ego gets to do all the quipping he secret identity can't.

Someone mentioned show, not tell as pertains to solar radiation now depowering Supergirl in Lazarus Planet but here is the show without the tell. It would have helped if others were behind in their reading and had jumped this issue to the top of their reading pile.

Anonymous said...

This book was delayed by 2 weeks - it should have come out the week before Lazarus Planet: Alpha, which would have made so much more sense. It certainly showed more clearly what was going on with Supergirl's powers in Alpha. But DC has not promoted this well.


Anj said...

Interesting about delay!
That makes some sense.
But yes, you think DC would be saying 'important prologue' somewhere in ads.

Anonymous said...

Well Here is the Thing About Supergirl, she knows, deep down in her Heart of Hearts, if she left the protection of Metropolis to her Cousin and his Son, All Holy Hell would Break Loose...


Martin Gray said...

This was a great issue of a fun series, you shoukd catch up on DC Infinite, Anj. Presumably the Monkey God is his dad - Marcus rankles against the very notion - but who knows?

So yes, we do see Kara’s on-again, off-again superpowers (hmm, why does that phrase sound familiar?) for the first time here, but the solar radiation link like isn’t spelled out, simply suggested. I like firm details!