Entering into 2023 I wanted to dive into more comic books beyond Marvel, DC Comics, and franchises I know like Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Specifically I want to get into new comic books coming out this year from various publishers. Getting in from the beginning of a series isn’t something I’ve had the chance to outside Marvel and DC Comics. With that in mind I am starting with Monarch. I am not at all familiar with the work from writer Rodney Barnes or artist Alex Lins but the solicitation for Monarch got me intrigued. With that said let’s get into Monarch #1.
Writer: Rodney Barnes
Artist: Alex Lins
Colorist: Luis NCT and Mar Silvestre Galotto
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
How people deal with the First-Contact from an alien race, especially one that is invading Earth rather than being friendly, is a classic sci-fi starting point. Its in dealing with this type of set-up that Rodney Barnes and Alex Lins’ Monarch #1 shines. There is a balance between how immediate of an impact an alien invasion has and how quickly that changes everything for our series lead Travon and those around him.
The impact of the alien invasion doesn’t get off to the best start. That is because Monarch #1 opens with two pages that you’re not sure is happening in the past or just a dream that Travon or another character is having. Even when you end Monarch #1 you aren’t 100% what purpose the opening two pages served to the set-up of this story.
That is something that Barnes and Lins quickly recover from as from the third page on we are fully brough into this world. Barnes does a very good job in having Travon act as the series narrator to get us into a world that just seems normal. It’s a careful tightrope that’s walked given how much the world building is relied on Travon’s narration. That is credit to Barnes writing talents that Travon’s voice is captured starting from the third page to the final page of this first issue.
While Travon’s narration does a lot of world building the first half of Monarch #1 does a great job in lulling into a sense of normalcy of this universe. Each character from Travon’s foster family to his bully are written in a way that captures each of their unique voices. Even without before we get more details on characters and what there relationships are Barnes gives us a good understanding by having them all have unique voices. Having so many different people makes you forget the opening pages tease an eventual turn into the sci-fi.
Lins artwork, along with Luis NCT and Mar Silvestre Galotto coloring, deserves just as much credit in this aspect of Monarch #1. Because while Barnes captures the different voices of the cast for this series Lins brings the world to life with the art. Being set in a real world place, in this case Compton, adds to how the setting has some familiarity. Lins close up shots of people’s face in particular stand out as the detail adds to how each person has their own characteristics and style.
Barnes and Lins world building for this first half of Monarch #1 made the mid-point have a big dramatic effect as the alien invasion happens out of nowhere. The suddenness of the alien invasion speaks to how this world isn’t one with a bunch of superheroes or some time in the future with advance technology. This is a world that didn’t know anything about aliens or their existence. Because of that the alien invasion has such severe consequences in how things turn out in the second half of the story.
While the sudden impact is handled well there are many things unexplained with how we see things turn out for different characters introduced in Monarch #1. There seems to be an idea that the alien invasion was more targeted but what the rules of this new world order aren’t clear. That is hopefully something we get better clarification on in the next issue.
Rodney Barnes and Alex Lins deliver an engaging start to the Monarch series. All the characters bring you into the world that is crafted and makes the eventual turn into an alien invasion story have a greater impact. The ending hooked me to be invested in finding out what happens after I finished Monarch #1.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10