The monkey prince wears the crown of Sun Wukong, a figure in Buddhist folklore
The following article contains spoilers for Monkey Prince #3, on sale now.
Real-world folklore has inspired many comic book characters. DC’s newest hero, the Monkey Prince, is no exception.
In monkey prince #1 (by Gene Luen Yang, Bernard Chang, Sebastian Cheng, Janice Chiang) Marcus Shugel-Shen was tricked into jumping into his new school’s swimming pool by the mysterious Mr. Zhu. After facing his fear of water, Marcus found himself on the slopes of Flower Fruit Mountain, where Mr. Zhu assumed his true form as Shifu Pigsy, half-man, half-pig. There he told Marcus that the teenager was the son of Sun Wukong, aka the Monkey King, the central protagonist of the seminal 16th-century Chinese novel. Travel west.
Unfortunately, Marcus’ first act upon returning to the mortal realm was to use his newfound mystical abilities to get revenge on a trio of bullies, sparking a battle with Batman and Robin that nearly killed the young half-hearted. god. Fortunately, Mr. Zhu was able to save Marcus. Yet the Monkey King’s brother-in-arms also punished his new apprentices’ abuse of his powers by “gifting” him with the same magical disciplinary device used to keep the Monkey King in check throughout the process. Journey to the Westt. He thus cemented Marcus’ bond with his father.
Like many “heroic” figures in ancient mythology, Sun Wukong was portrayed as capable of both good and evil. While Su Wukong was a noble warrior whose heroic exploits made him an honorary god within the Chinese pantheon, he was also a demon who possessed a short temper and an unfortunate lack of foresight. When the other gods attempted to execute Sun Wukong after devouring the magical peaches that kept them immortal, the enraged Monkey King retaliated by declaring war on Heaven itself. With both divine powers and unrivaled martial arts skills at his disposal, Sun Wukong nearly succeeded in overthrowing the other gods and seizing control of the universe before being imprisoned under a mountain by the Buddha himself. same.
Five hundred years later, the goddess Guanyin freed Sun Wukong, offering him full forgiveness for past crimes. All he had to do was accompany the young monk Tang Sanzang on his journey to recover and make sacred Buddhist sutras. Knowing that the Monkey King would attempt to flee as soon as he was freed, Guanyin fitted him with a magic circle that tightened his skull whenever Tang Sanzang uttered an incantation. Unable to act impulsively for fear that Tan Sanzang would punish him, Sun Wukong learned to appreciate traditional Buddhist values like humility and compassion, becoming a more merciful figure who used his great strength to help others. By the time Tang Sanzang completed his quest, Sun Wukong had completely renounced his violent ways and attained Buddhahood, causing the circle to disappear.
It’s unknown if the Monkey King found in the DC Universe shares the same story as his mythological counterpart. What’s clear is that the circle Pigsy placed on Marcus’ head seems to work almost like it did in Travel west, with a noticeable twist. After Marcus rejects his legacy and throws the circle into Monkey King #2 (by Yang, Chang, Cheng, and Chiang), he woke up the next day to find the circle had returned and wrapped around his chest. After again using her abilities to subtly torment her primary bully, Pigsy demonstrated the Circle’s abilities. He warned Marcus that he wouldn’t hesitate to use it if the Monkey Prince abused his abilities.
Although Pigsy’s methods of discipline may seem harsh, the Prince of Money has already proven himself to be as dangerous as his father. During his assault on the bullies, Marcus displayed the same violent temper that influenced the Monkey King’s worst decisions. He could have easily killed his classmates had Batman and Robin not interfered.
By placing the circle on Marcus, Pigsy gave the rebellious demigod a powerful incentive not to abuse his abilities and created a direct bond between Marcus and his father. Plus, it serves as a constant reminder of the Monkey Prince’s legacy and destiny. While Pigsy and the Monkey King’s exact motivations are unknown, it’s clear that Marcus will have to play a vital role in stopping the demonic menace that has taken hold in Gotham City. Unfortunately, the boy has a lot to learn before he is ready for this challenge.
Despite his absence from Marcus’ life, it seems that Sun Wukong wants to at least make sure his son learns the same lessons. Hopefully, this will allow another generation of Monkey King to overcome their demonic heritage and become the hero. By allowing the circle to take flight, Pigsy sent Sun Wukong’s son on the first steps of his journey to becoming a better person.
The Monkey Prince is more replaceable than he thinks
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