There are many legends in the Marvel Universe, some awe inspiring, others that are frightening and several which are simply ridiculous. There are even a few that are all three, such as the legend of Hit-Monkey, which tells the tale of a heavily armed simian assassin that targets professional killers. In the recent "Hit-Monkey" one-shot and "Deadpool" #19-21 readers found out that the legend was true., and this July, the simian slayer's legend expands when the three issue "Hit-Monkey" miniseries, by writer Daniel Way and artist Dalibor Talijic, begins. CBR News spoke with Way about the project.
Prior to the character's appearance in "Deadpool," Way penned the "Hit-Monkey" one-shot which showed the title character's origin. The reader response to both stories was tremendous, leading to Way being offered his third Hit-Monkey story; an assignment he eagerly accepted.
"I have a lot of fun writing this character. As if I didn't have enough free rein in 'Deadpool,' now I get to do stories that don't even have to involve humans...even though this story does," Way told CBR News. "Plus, Hit-Monkey is a compelling character. There's definitely more stories to be told featuring him. We did the origin story and we did the story that shows where he is right now, so there's this huge gap in between then and now. That's the period when the legend of this character kind of builds steam."
The story, titled "Year of the Monkey," picks up just a few seconds after the character's origin tale, a story which began when an unnamed assassin was wounded while trying to escape a failed political coup. He made it into the mountains where he was found by a troop of Macaques who saved his life. While recuperating with the clan of monkeys, the assassin performed daily training rituals, causing one suspicious macaque to keep an eye on the assassin and eventually mimic his moves. That monkey was later expelled from his community when he tried, by force, to make his clan abandon the assassin, an attempt which resulted in him using his new combat skills against his fellow macaques. Just minutes after he was excommunicated, a swarm of government troops found the assassin and executed him and the band of monkeys that gave him refuge. This enraged the lone monkey who picked up one of the assassin's fallen guns and turned it on the soldiers. The story ended with Hit-Monkey walking down the mountain to get further vengeance for his fallen clan members.
"On page 1 of this miniseries, he's at the base of the mountain," Way said. "He's wiped out the killers who were there, but there are more on the way. Hit-Monkey somehow knew when he first saw the assassin in the one-shot that trouble would never leave. It would always keep coming. That's why he was trying so hard to get the guy out of there in the origin story: so trouble wouldn't come to them. But no one listened to him, so now he's going to take the fight to the bad guys."
In "Hit-Monkey," Way's protagonist doesn't have the ability to speak human languages, so story telling devices such as internal monologues are out, but the writer hjas developed with another device to help bridge that gap. "The spirit of the nameless assassin from the origin story is there to guide Hit-Monkey and guide the reader," Way explained. "So we're definitely going for a kind of mystic, supernatural angle, and I think that fits. In the origin story, when the assassin looks up at Hit-Monkey as he's about to die, he says, 'I will live on.' He's gunned down and that's when Hit-Monkey picks up the gun and proves the prophecy to be true."
In both theme and plot, "Hit-Monkey" is a series about payback. "Revenge is something that Hit-Monkey is learning, along with his trade. He doesn't know what it is, but he knows that he feels something and that he's compelled to do something. It's manifesting in violence, but in this story he kind of comes to grips with what that actually means," Way remarked. "Also, there is the question of whose vengeance is he serving? Is it his own? Or is it this assassin's who keeps speaking into his head? And at the end of the day, where does that road lead? And does it ever end? I think that's why this story works. These are situations where, if we're not personally familiar with them, we're at least familiar with them through our entertainment, whether it's comics, film, television or novels. We know those situations, so it's entertaining to watch them through the cipher of this monkey. It's like, 'What would a monkey do in this situation?'"
Way also revealed that several supporting characters, familiar and new, will become embroiled in the central vendetta of "Hit-Monkey" "No one knows about Hit-Monkey until very late in the story. They think they're still dealing with the [dead] assassin. So Hit-Monkey is an unknown quantity. They've seen his actions, and plenty of people have fallen victim to them, but no one has survived to tell the tale, yet," the writer explained. "The B plot is that there will be a survivor coming out of this. It will be an established character. It's a character that I've written before and that I really enjoy writing. He'll be the character that survives to sow the seeds of the Hit-Monkey legend."
"Hit-Monkey" is a series with a carefully constructed tone featuring elements of action, grim violence, comedy and even a bit of cute animal antics. "As a writer I have to recognize all those elements and watch that I don't go too far in any one direction, otherwise the story can become campy," Way explained. "I did the origin story straight because that was everybody's first look at the monkey. We had so much fun building into it that I think most of the comedy was already established. It is kind of technically difficult to pull off, but I think I've come up with a way where I can show all those facets of the character."
Dalibor Talajic drew the "Hit-Monkey" one-shot, and the artist will continue to bring to life Way's scripts for "Hit-Monkey" "His style in incredibly effective," Way stated. "There's an old EC Comics artist named Reed Crandall, and Dalibor has some of that going on. I see a lot of David Lapham, too, who also borrows a lot from comic artists a couple of generations back. It's very solid storytelling, with a Croatian flair going on. They always have to take it to strange places, and that really works with Hit-Monkey. There are a lot of incredibly talented Croatian artists working in the business. There must be something in the water over there [Laughs]."
"Hit-Monkey" is only a three issue miniseries, but if audiences want more stories featuring the lethal simian, Way is more than happy to oblige. "I'd love to continue writing the character. It's enjoyable and a challenge. I always like picking those projects that have an extra layer of difficulty. I don't like writing straightforward stories, Way said. "I think Hit-Monkey might be a character that will be around for awhile, and I'd love to be right there with him."