DC Comics’ new Asian-American hero Shazam for fans of Journey to the West

Wu Cheng’en’s Journey to the west has inspired countless stories, and is retold many times, as one of the four classics of Chinese literature. And at the heart of this legendary masterpiece is its breakout character: Sun Wukong, the Monkey King.

The Monkey King has long been a fascinating subject and inspiration for Asian imaginative creations. Son Goku, by Akira Toriyama Dragon ball After all, it’s just the Japanese translation of “Sun Wukong” – and Goku is equipped with Wukong’s magic staff, tail, and flying cloud to glide on.

It’s fitting that the tradition continues, and something new is created once again from the legend of the Monkey King: DC Comics’ newest superhero, the Monkey Prince.

What is DC’s The Monkey Prince about?

What if Sun Wukong, the legendary Monkey King, had a son? And what if that boy doesn’t know who he really is? That is the fascinating premise of Monkey Princebegins the story of a brand new Asian-American hero and his journey of self-discovery.

Marcus Shen is the son of two henchmen for hire – which means he’s scared of superheroes and he moves around a lot. He struggles to fit into a new school, but everything seems to change when he meets Mr. Zhu, the maintenance man, and learns that his real father is Sun Wukong, the legendary Monkey King. theory.

There is a contact of Karate boy Here, obviously, as we see a lost child really finds her purpose and stands up for herself. But beyond that, it’s also an era story filled with Chinese literature and America’s superhero world-building process. Marcus’ life has taken him all over the DC Universe, he gets to see Batman, and the book is even set in Gotham. So it’s very rooted in the familiar superhero scene, but with highlights like “Mr. Zhu” – is Zhu Bajie (or “Zhu Bajie”), the companion of the Monkey King in the Journey to the west.

Why is The Monkey Prince happening now?

Shifu Pigsy reveals to Marcus Shen that his charm is the great Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, who has given him his precious crown, and tells him he must overcome his fear. fear in Monkey Prince #1 (2022).

Image: Gene Yang, Bernard Chang / DC Comics

Last year, in May 2021, DC Comics published DC Hero Festival: A Celebration of Asian Super Heroes, an epic compilation overseen by editors Jessica Chen and Andrea Shea, filled with Asian talent, celebrates their vision and contributions. The matter is an anthology – all written short stories, except one.

The Monkey Prince debuted there in an excellent 12-page pager by Gene Luen Yang and Bernard Chang, and is an impressive story with a future section. And after a year of waiting, the book is finally here. The one-shot Asian hero seems to be a promise that DC will commit to doing more with its Asian talent and character. And this book is the first big step forward from that promise, starring editor Jessica Chen.

Given the long history of racist and oriental works in American comics – even when Asian-American creators like Jim Lee became publishers at DC Comics – one never had There can be enough authentic work crafted, produced, and voice-supervised with live-in experience to address their cultural touchpoints. Representation matters and there’s more work to be done, that’s why Monkey PrinceThe creative team of all Asian Americans makes sense.

Who is making The Monkey Prince?

Gene Yang is a prolific writer, a MacArthur Genius Grant Winner, and has a rich, varied workload. Whether it is the expansion law of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Superman, coding and basketball, he made comics based on all of them. Recently launched Comics about The Last Superman of the 2010ssuccess Superman Smashing The Klanand following it up with a stellar Batman/Superman performance, Yang returned to DCU with the title.

Joining Yang here is accomplished artist Bernard Chang, who has had a long and solid career, dating back to his founding in the ’90s, working with Disney as a concept designer and taking pride with the experience of drawing a lot of superhero books for many years. The two are joined in this venture by the amazing colorist Sebastian Cheng, who is working with Yang on Shang-Chi ends at Marvel.

And even more impressive, the team is surrounded by legendary letter writer Janice Chiang – who started his work on Marvel Bullpen in the 1970s and hasn’t stopped since. Supervised by editor Jessica Chen, this is a rare group of Asian-American comics, working with an Asian-American editor, allowed to let loose and explore the legacy of one of the heroes. Asia’s most iconic!

Is there a read request?

Dr. Shugel-Shen arrived late because of her and her husband's work to design a super-microbe device for Penguin.  “Because of your perfect references from Riddler, Intergang and Captain Cold,” Penguin said, “I will forgive your tardiness just this once,” in Monkey Prince #1 (2022).

Image: Gene Yang, Bernard Chang / DC Comics

Not really, because Gene Yang is one of the most accessible writers out there. That said, you can very well go ahead and check out the aforementioned 12 pagers in DC Hero Festival: A Celebration of Asian Super Heroes special.

In addition, DC has launched special Monkey Prince # 0 problem focuses on Sun Wukong, the original Monkey King himself, rather than his son. It’s a 12-page prologue that shows us how this creative team will take on the legendary hero and how he’ll fit into the DC Universe, with all its new Gods and a variety of fantastical creatures. weird.

Is The Monkey Prince any good?

There’s a standout pick in Monkey Prince’s first 12 pagers debut: Marcus makes his first appearance disguised as DC Comics’ Shazam. There are strong similarities here; Shazam is The original young superhero of American comicsand was one of the first transform hero of the landscape. An act of miracles and he transforms from his mortal form into his divine form – so is Marcus’ transformation from a teenage boy into a monkey-riding hero in the clouds.

But there is also a parallel that highlights the differences of the characters. Shazam is a very quintessential western superhero, drawing his powers from Greek and Roman gods and heroes (and a biblical character). Monkey Prince, on the other hand, draws his strength from a quintessential Eastern figure, namely China. At the end of that first 12-page series, Yang and Chang even revealed that Marcus was Billy Batson’s classmate and best friend.

The whole idea is well thought out and Monkey Prince #1 shows that Yang and Chang know exactly what the character is and who they want him to be: a quintessential young Asian-American hero for the new age, building on the foundations of both superheroes. American and Chinese novels.

Their first full publication with The Monkey Prince caused a stir with the possibility of this idea, with Bernard Chang’s pencils conveying a lively, expressive art style that exuded a sense of vitality. young. Ordinary Marcus scenes feel claustrophobic, and his explosive transformation makes the page layout even larger and looser. It’s an artistic sensibility that fits perfectly with what the work is about. Sebastian Cheng’s bright, colorful palette just helps add to it and puncture its essential goal.

At its core, Monkey Prince is the two-part equivalent of the story of the Monkey King and the American superhero novel, “Asia” and “American” at the same time. Marcus has just begun his superhero journey, and I can’t wait to see it unfold.

A panel pops out

A Chinese golden demon emerges from a carved gold gourd to threaten a surprised Penguin in Monkey Prince #1 (2022).

Image: Gene Yang, Bernard Chang / DC Comics

This is The Penguin who thinks he has a Chinese Demon under his control. He didn’t know his confidence was misplaced!

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