In the first issue of a brand-new series, the titular Moongirl and Devil Dinosaur meet. Is it good?
Moongirl and Devil Dinosaur #1 (Marvel Comics)
Being smart can be lonely. Really lonely. And when you are young and in love with this THING and it’s all-consuming for you and you can’t understand why no one else can see how IMPORTANT this thing is!…that’s even more lonely. And so we meet Lunella, who is very smart, and very young, and very focused on her passion: science.
Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder have created one of the most real characters I’ve met in comics in a long time. As a fellow gifted kid, I knew so many Lunellas, kids so desperate to burst out of their limited surroundings, to find the place where their passions were understood and appreciated.
It isn’t easy being that kid, but it can be even harder on the folks around them. Montclare and Reeder have given their readers a challenge: Lunella isn’t immediately likable. She probably looks a lot like the kid in their school who they see get teased or bullied every day. But I love that she’s difficult; she’s real and she’s interesting.
From the other side, seeing how hard Lunella’s parents are trying to connect to her, to help her make the best of her current situation and want the best for her is a nice shout out for parents reading this comics with their kids. I don’t think they will be bored; while this is an all-ages book, Montclare and Reeder don’t dumb down the writing and keep the pace tight.
The story itself is a nice mix of newbie and Marvel know-it-all, including bits of Marvel details while not counting on those to drive the entire story. I liked the rejection letter from the Future Foundation on her wall, showing just how high her ambitions are. (Equally important is the letter beneath, from the NYC school board, saying that while she qualifies to go to a magnet school for gifted and talented kids, there aren’t any open slots.)
Lunella’s search for Kree technology brings her and Devil Dinosaur together, and I’m excited to see how this relationship develops. I never read the original Devil Dinosaur and Moon-Boy, so I don’t know how exactly the two interacted – can they talk? – but the flashbacks to Moon-Boy and DD set the tone for Lunella without breaking the pace of the story.
The pace and tone of the book is set in a huge part by Natacha Bustos’ fantastic art and Tamra Bonvillain’s gorgeous, vibrant colors. Bustos keeps things grounded in realism (as realistic as art can be while featuring prehistoric creatures). I especially appreciate how clear her action sequences are, while keeping things PG, and her facial expressions are incredibly detailed. Her line work brings out the details without overpowering the panels. Bonvillain’s colors help keep the tone all ages, with a bright and colorful palette that is inviting to look at while still taking the story seriously.
Most importantly to me, and something I’ve been noticing more and more in new books, is the simple diversity in the characters. It’s not pointed out or made into a plot point—Lunella and her family are black, and her classroom is filled with white, Latino, Asian, and black students, just like you would expect in a classroom in the Lower East side. It’s reflecting reality and I love it. It’s no accident that one of the posters on Lunella’s wall (in a place of honor over her bed) is Neil Degrasse Tyson, the ultimate role model for a young space nerd.
Is It Good?
This is an awesome intro to a new series. Lunella is going to fit in nicely with her fellow young Marvel ladies, Kamala and Doreen. (I also think she and Gertie would have a lot to talk about. #badassgirlswithdinosaurs). Bring on the dinosaur/girl bonding!