After a long day of work, I sat down looking forward to a light, fun, kinda crazy comic book. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #16 is definitely that story, but with a surprisingly deep theme and some excellent art.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #16 (Marvel Comics)
Part four of a longer arc (probably 6 issues?) opens with Moon Girl (aka Lunella Lafayette) on some kind of tour through a psychedelic Kirby-esque dimension. That kind of thing can be quite unsettling for a nine year-old, even if she is the certified smartest person in the world. Luckily, Lunella realizes this freaky dimension is just a dream. Except she wakes up in Dr. Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, which I’m not sure is that assuring…
Lunella, it seems, has gotten on Dr. Doom’s bad side. He doesn’t like being knocked off his “smartest person in the world” perch. She is on the hunt for Doom, but his, and Strange’s, magical energies have totally confounded this girl of science. Having just about enough of magic, she heads home with a miniature DD in tow (thanks Dr. Strange!). On the way, she runs into some trouble. With a bit of Strange’s magic (and his well-timed assistance), Lunella manages to save herself and a couple neighborhood kids. The book ends with Moon Girl and DD back on Doom’s trail, struggling to set up some kind of device to trap him, when a team of X-people show up. They might be just the help she needs.
This issue seems like a transition in the bigger arc, but I’m pretty impressed with Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeders’ ability to deliver a satisfying, fun and frantic story. It can be a tough balance to strike between all those elements, but I think the small stakes of this story help. Lunella’s interior monologue, though, reveals a deeper conflict for the world’s smartest person. Her struggle with the nature of magic brings up questions about about belief and the reality of something you can’t science. People far older than her struggle with all the time in the real world. I was pretty surprised both that Montclare and Reeder were willing to tackle that theme, and that they were able to execute on it with such humor and fun. Of course, having a great main character definitely helps. I read the first few issues of this series last year and totally dug the smart-aleck-y, actually-acts-her-age Lunella. She kind of reminds me of a nicer, less assassin-y Damian Wayne. With a giant dinosaur companion.
Natacha Bustos on pencils and Tamra Bonvillain on colors bring all kinds of attitude to the story. The opening magical Kirby dimension is trippy and colorful and kinetic, a great opening to this book. When Lunella returns to the real world, they don’t lose any energy, especially out on the streets. Whether it’s Lunella trying to reign in mini-DD, or the 40 feet tall (magic everyone!), the pages just buzz. The thick line work and bright colors make the book feel like a Saturday morning cartoon… which Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur would be perfect for.
With such a totally fun book, there were only two issues, and they’re very minor. The first is that it’s a fast read. I think I read this in less than twenty minutes. That’s hard to justify a $4 buy. The other issue is that Devil Dinosaur didn’t get nearly enough to do. Sure, seeing him tiny was pretty funny, and made him even more dog like, but it’d have been cool to see him do some stomping. The last thing I’d note is that this story takes place during Halloween. It’s not really an issue, just kind of weird timing. Maybe this was pushed back really really far?
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur make a great team, especially with some assistance from Dr. Strange to knock Lunella off her balance. If you aren’t reading MG and DD, catch up, because if this issue is evidence, this title is tons of fun.