He’s soon to be the star of adventures on your teevee… but who is he? And how did he come to be? Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Hit-Monkey #1 awaits!
Writer: Daniel Way
Artist: Dalibor Talajic
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Editor: Axel Alonso
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $4.00
Previously in Hit-Monkey: Somewhere in the mountains, in a country undisclosed, a soldier desperately flees the scene of a massacre. Praying over and over for god to someone to save him, he returns to his commander with the news: Everyone else is dead. His commander refuses to summon the medic until he explains himself.
Commander Naguno accuses the man of cowardice and angrily asks why he survived, only to be told that the assassin was killed, shot down in the hot springs where he was bathing. Of course, that doesn’t explain how more men have been killed at their camp, and he berates his dying subordinate to explain. “Because of… the monkey, sir.”
The macaque reviews the carnage, slowly waling away before a voice speaks to him: “Did you think this would be the end?” It’s an interesting setup, especially when the angry monkey empties his weapons into the ghost of the murdered hitman seen in the soldier’s flashback.
It’s an interesting premise, in a way, but as the monologue continues, the problem with the concept becomes clear, as the protagonist is still a monkey. The assassin reminds Hit-Monkey that his entire colony was wiped out, but together they can find not only the men who killed them but the men who PAID those men. I’m a little bothered by how sketchy the facial expressions are in this issue, especially since the face of our ghost assassin seems to change from panel to panel, making his graytone coloring the only way to recognize him on certain pages. There’s also the sight of Hit-Monkey clinging to a bullet train that’s probably moving over 250 miles/170 kilometers per hour to contend with.
Their journey is filled with some interesting, but awkwardly structured exposition (“Why not just go after Kato, you ask?”) to get past the fact that the main character can’t speak. Their quarry, Hiyashi, is back in civilization planning to kill General Kato to cover his own tracks, but before he can put his plans into action, his car is rammed by a supply truck driven (somehow) by the Hit-Monkey. Gunning down the wrong man, Hit-Monkey flees for some reason, with the ghost assassin dogging him, insisting that he can’t run away from his destiny… He can’t run away from HIM. As for General Kato, he has his own plans for Hayashi.
That’s a scary Bullseye, y’all. As for the issue itself, I’m kind of torn on it. It’s not a terrible comic by any means, even with the unpleasant coloring and sketchy art, but it’s also a book that doesn’t feel like it was fully conceptualized before being committed to the page. I remember the hype about Hit-Monkey #1 when it debuted, and it was OVERWHELMING, much like when Marvel editorial put so much effort into making ‘Marvel Apes’ happen, but the issue itself could have used a bit more development in the conceptualization stage, earning 2 out of 5 stars overall. It feels a lot like an example of creators enjoying an idea so much that they don’t make it fun for all the readers as well. The idea of a monkey with sunglasses and guns is a strong visual, though, and I hope that the upcoming animated series can maintain the enthusiasm while giving us stronger art and story.
Also: I still wanna know what country this actually takes place in.
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It doesn't feel particularly well thought-out or developed, and the combination of dark coloring and sketchy art makes the storytelling murky.