In a world (yes, I’m honestly starting this way) where gritty comic book heroes and gory violence have taken the mainstream media by storm, one comic book dares to defy the odds and be utterly pleasant in every fucking issue. OhmigodthankyouIloveyousomuch!
Don’t get me wrong. I take zero offense with gritty comic book heroes and gory violence in mainstream media. It totally gets to carve out its place. And comic book fans had to wait a good long while before they weren’t sidelined, mocked, and left out of mainstream media. And just look at the programming we’re getting! Television with production values as good as film, expansive and exciting universes, and groundbreaking entertainment. It’s glorious!
It’s also really intense. And the fate of the world rests in so and so’s hands, and they can only save the such and such with the McGuffin device, and I need a friggin’ break. I want to feel good about the world. Who wants to throw me a lifeline?
Ah, that’ll do it. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur as created by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder. And again, don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of real cute comics too (yes, I did read the first trade of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, I did love it). But there’s a freshness and an innocence to Moon Girl that makes me a unique kind of happy. Like, “Julie Andrews twirling around like a mental patient on a mountaintop kind of happy” (totally nicked that from The Sixth Sense). It does get talked about, unlike my title would suggest, just not as much as it should.
And, yes, it ties in with the Avengers universe (it’s Marvel, it kinda has to), and yes, the protagonist is chasing a McGuffin through New York City. But here’s why it works:
Lunella Lafayette A.K.A. Moon Girl
Moon Girl’s actual name is Lunella Lafayette. She’s a precocious 4th grade African-American girl. She’s human, she doesn’t have any super powers, and she doesn’t have a ton of money. What she does have is curiosity, creativity, intelligence (she was officially named the smartest character in the Marvel universe), resourcefulness, and a prehistoric dinosaur in her backyard.
But I’m, getting ahead of myself.
So she doesn’t have aliens abilities, nor has she been bitten by a radioactive spider/fallen in a vat of toxic waste/undergone a risky scientific procedure. She doesn’t let that stop her. And she doesn’t have incalculable wealth. Her inventions look homemade with wires poking out, and they don’t always work quite the way she meant them to, but she figured out a way to make them, nonetheless. And again, she’s a child. I thing we can cut her a little slack. Plus, her reaction to finding a T-Rex is not, “oh, how horrifying,” but, “well, this is unusual. It must be frustrating for him. Maybe he can help me out, and maybe I can do the same for him.” She’s awesome.
So I didn’t know about Dinosaur World when I started Moon Girl. Good news: you don’t need to. As a matter of fact, the story starts, rather tragically, with the death of Devil Dinosaur’s original partner in crime, Moon-Boy.
See, Moon-Boy is a cave-person type, and he’s mortal enemies with these other cave-people types and they kill, and as Moon-Boy is dying, he asks Devil Dinosaur to retrieve this Nightstone thing they have, but then a time vortex happens and sucks the bad cave-people and Devil Dinosaur into present day New York. As you do.
And a T-Rex running loose in NYC is everything you’d expect. He’s ferocious, menacing, and destructive. But he’s also still loyal to the dead Moon-Boy, so Lunella shows up, and they work together to get the Nightstone back, and Devil Dinosaur turns out to be very sweet and protective. And he better be considering how much he’s going to cost New York in damages.
They back a lot of emotion into those tiny eyes and a lot of heart in that giant body.
It Takes Place in the Prime Marvel Universe
I’m not incredibly well-versed in any comic book universe, but even I recognize and appreciate the Marvel tie-ins. Whether it’s a brief mention of the Kree or Devil Dinosaur having a run-in with the Hulk, there’s are little Marvel nuggets throughout.
Not to mention, as I already have, Moon-Boy, Devil Dinosaur, the Nightstone, the Dinosaur World universe and the Killer-folk (those are the evil cave-people).
It Works Completely Well on Its Own
On the other hand, if your anything like me, keeping track of several alternate universes starts to get tricky. No problem!
I admit, I’m not completely caught up, and I’m missing an issue in the middle. I just can’t make it out to my comic book store every week. This is why I usually wait for the trade paperbacks. I just couldn’t wait for this one. And if I was trying to buy issues of other comics, as well? I’d probably drive myself even more crazy than I already am. I mean, I’ll track them all down eventually. I’ve seen every episode of Doctor Who ever (even the reconstructions), I just need to find the time and resources. But it’s nice that I can focus on Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur as a self-contained story.
Who Isn’t This For?!
I read a really obnoxious blog post saying they couldn’t figure out who this comic was targeting. But I see this as being appealing to a lot of people. Like dinosaurs? Got you covered. Like cool gadgets? Got you covered. Looking for time travel? Check. Need to expand the Marvel universe? Done. Looking for a lead character who’s female and/or a minority? Here you go. And just because it’s appropriate for younger audiences DOES NOT MEAN adults can’t enjoy it as well. I wish I had been so lucky to have this comic as a kid, and child-me is screaming with joy. But you know what? So is adult me. I’d like to invite that article to trip and fall into that vortex Lunella opened up.
Writing and Artwork
The audacity of lumping these two things together. I know. But I just wanted to say very briefly: so fun, absolutely adorable, and completely life affirming. Amy Reeder referred to it as “the ultimate buddy comic,” and she’s right. It very much follows the “boy and his dog” format, but with a unique spin on it. A girl and her dinosaur. Honestly, what could be better than that?
P.S. If you guys at Marvel need a writer for any film/TV plans, I’m, like, super interested.