Everyone around Travon has felt that he was someone special. Now he has been captured by aliens. But why do they also seem to think he is someone special? Find out in Monarch #2 from Image Comics!
Writer: Rodney Barnes
Artist: Alex Lins
Colorist: Luis NCT
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Editor: Greg Tumbarello
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: March 15, 2023
Previously in Monarch: Travon lives in Compton with his foster mother, Miss Wilamae, and foster sister Marli. Then one day, a rainbow cloud settles over the city. Zion, who blames Travon for getting kicked out of Miss Wilamae’s house, chases Travon to school. Travon and his friend Daysha skip biology to go up on the roof and watch the cloud. Zion sneaks onto the school grounds and starts beating up Travon. Then everything changes. Crab-like aliens pour of the rainbow cloud and start attacking everything. Travon, Daysha, and their friend Todd manage to survive in the school for a while, but Travon decides to venture out and look for food and check on his family. Instead, he finds Zion. And then he is captured by the aliens.
A SECRET SIGHTING
Monarch #2 opens with a scene from the past at Miss Wilamae’s house. It’s a clear night, and Marli looks up at the stars through a telescope. Travon wonders if there could be other life out there. Miss Wilamae remembers one night walking home from the bus after a late shift at the hospital. She saw a strange light overhead and knew it was from something out of this world. She followed it and saw a ray of light reach down to the ground as though it were planting something. And then it was gone. She never found out what it was, but it gave her hope and made her feel like we are not alone in the universe.
On board the alien ship, Travon lies on a table as strange constructs work on him. He thinks that he will miss everyone and that he will soon be alone, again. He knows the Earth will respond to the aliens even though they cannot defeat them. And then he feels guilty. He somehow now knows this would happen, and he thinks about the connections he has made.
Again in the past, some time after Miss Wilamae told Travon her story, he asks her if she ever told anyone about the UFO she saw. Other than him, she never did. To her, it was personal. But she does tell him that she later went back to that same spot. It looked untouched, but she looked carefully and found a black spot on the ground. And she planted a lily there, so whatever was under the ground would not be alone.
In the present, Travon regains consciousness and feels odd, as though he is two people. The ship talks to him, translating so he can understand. It tells Travon his mission is complete. He needs to eat. He must reacclimate. They have a world to populate. He has been spending time on earth in an assumed persona, and he does not yet remember who and what he is. It tells him the story of another world, a peaceful and harmonious one.
Then the star that sustained it started to collapse. The beings who lived there realized their world would die. They extracted the essence of their people and devised the constructs. One being was kept in suspended animation and prepared for when they found a likely world. They found Earth, but it was already inhabited. They observed, and saw a world full of division and pain, a world that did not care for its most vulnerable, a world full of suffering. They planted an emissary beneath the ground to grow, to blend in, to collect more information.
That emissary was Travon. He burst forth from the ground beneath the lily Miss Wilamae planted, and, looking like a young child, found his way to her home.
A DESPERATE GAMBLE
Monarch #2 uses the art to frame two extreme and different views of Earth. The alien attack on Earth is deadly and inexorable. Travon understands how futile it is for Earth. The kids who survive in Compton know life can be tough, and they do their best to hang on. And then we see the aliens’ snapshot scan of everything – wars and conflict, destruction of the natural world, the quiet desperation of people who are alone and suffering the torments of life. But playing out against all of this is Miss Wilamae, as a personification of hope, and of the simple goodness so many people have. She could be afraid of the alien ship when she first sees it, but she chooses to be grateful to know there are others out there. She does not know who they are or why they came, but still does a kind gesture because she feels it would be right. Her kindness reached Travon even before he was fully realized to know what it was.
I like the transition we see in Travon. When we first see him on board the ship, his skin looks as though it has been covered with strange bandages or devices. We wonder why the aliens pulled him out. When he finally sits up and starts talking to the ship, he seems calm, but he does not yet seem to fully understand who he is. When the constructs put together food for him, they create chocolate pudding, something familiar but so oddly out of place. Reconnecting to his past seems painful. He still looks like a young boy, but his face looks much older.
BOTTOM LINE: EARTH ON TRIAL
Monarch #2 is not your standard alien invasion tale. I like the way it uses that as a way to look at Earth from a distance. It is sometimes hard to see things clearly when they are too close. But is one good person enough to change the world?
Dear Spoilerite,At Major Spoilers, we strive to create original content that you find interesting and entertaining. Producing, writing, recording, editing, and researching requires significant resources. We pay writers, podcast hosts, and other staff members who work tirelessly to provide you with insights into the comic book, gaming, and pop culture industries. Help us keep MajorSpoilers.com strong. Become a Patron (and our superhero) today.