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Review: Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #3

MoonGirlDevilDinosaur3CoverMoon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #3 puts together all the pieces of the first two issues to create one satisfying, adorable whole balancing  dinosaur misadventures with the every day life of Lunella Lafayette, a genius girl with an Inhuman gene, who just wants to be normal for once. But some Killer Folk (aka what Jack Kirby decided to call cavemen in the original Devil Dinosaur) got up in her business and lost her Kree Omni Wave projector, which helps ensure her Inhuman gene doesn’t activate and also has the nasty side effect of opening portals in time and space. But she wouldn’t have a bumbling, yet kind in his own way T-Rex companion without it.

Writers Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder go back to the roots of Marvel Comics in the 1960s by making their protagonist, Lunella Lafayette aka Moon Girl, a science hero in the mold of Reed Richards, Tales to Astonish-era Hank Pym, and especially Peter Parker. (Some of the faces she makes at the bullies in the bathroom remind me of Steve Ditko, and that’s a high compliment.) But she better reflects modern comics’ more diverse audience and is a young African American girl. Lunella takes all obstacles head on and barks orders at Devil Dinosaur like she’s a Marine drill sergeant as he tumbles his way through the ranks of Killer Folk. Natacha Bustos is a skilled gesture cartoonist, and she puts the entire page to work for everything from a tail swinging, foot stomping chase scene to a back of Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four style cutaway page to look at Lunella’s super rad lab under the school, which is basically her sanctum sanctorum. And prolific colorist Tamra Bonvillain (Rat Queens, Wayward) makes sure this chase isn’t just a mandatory opening set piece, but keeps the reader’s eye on the prize with a bright yellow energy illuminating the Kree Omni Wave against the blue twilight.

KreeOmniWave

The stakes from the rumble tumble dinosaurs versus cavemen in New York City come from Lunella’s desperate desire to be a normal girl that is revealed in the character driven second half of the comic where we get to see her interactions with her family and the kids at school, who are vicious in the way 12 and 13 years old can be. (And I should know, I threw a ketchup packet at a girl for liking Star Trek in 7th grade before the Abrams film came out and it was cool.) Lunella’s parents are genuinely concerned about her safety in her inventions and after school activities, which include Kree technology and interdimensional travel and want her to just be “normal”. But Bustos makes this regular line of dialogue hit with a close-up of Lunella’s sad eyes beneath her big glasses. The glasses are a nice character design touch and add extra emotion to each panel in which they appear.

At school, Lunella has different priorities than her classmates, who are into lighting matches in the bathroom for seemingly no reason. (This could be a clever bit of parallel between them and cavemen from Montclare, Reeder, and Bustos.) She just loves science and making things and is enthusiastic about it. Unforunately, this earns laughs at her expense like when she pretends to be Devil Dinosaur and retreats to her science lab. However, Lunella’s solitude has a purpose because Montclare and Reeder write her as a introvert in the super-extroverted, group project and collaboration heavy world of modern American public schools. This is done simply through her inner monologue about needing a quiet place to think, and that her pointless interactions with the kid at her school “waste her time” that she could be finding a way to repress her Inhuman gene, or just do cool science experiments. She needs her alone time to recharge her energy for meaningful pursuits like chasing dinosaurs around or saving the day.

Yes, even though Lunella Lafayette’s “secret identity” as Moon Girl is outed in the third issue of her comic book, she is a superhero in her own way and with the help of Devil Dinosaur’s big ol’ day saves her science class from a lab fire. She doesn’t have much in the way of physical strength, but uses her intellect, knack for strategy, and Cretaceous (not Jurassic) Era buddy to get things done. But Montclare and Reeder end the comic on a world expanding, cliffhanger twist. In the future, it will be interesting to see Lunella interact with more traditional superheroes, and I can’t wait until she meets the big time Marvel scientists, like Tony Stark, Bruce Banner (if he ever gets found), or even Valeria Richards if her parents let her take a break from creating a new multiverse.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #3 features insightful writing from Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder as readers truly get to be in Lunella’s head through her struggles with being a “weird” Inhuman, triumphs with Devil Dinosaur, and all the silly, growing up moments in between. Natacha Bustos draws her panels from a variety of perspectives and uses little tricks like directional arrows to keep the storytelling fresh with the help of a predominantly red and yellow palette from Tamra Bonvillain. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #3 is a treat for all ages from fans who were old enough to follow Jack Kirby’s Marvel stories or those that were in preschool when Iron Man came out.

Story: Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder Art: Natacha Bustos Colors: Tamra Bonvillain
Story: 8.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

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