Moongirl and Devil Dinosaur isn’t a series I’ve ever checked out, but dammit, the premise seems so cool. A kid (I think she’s 9) who is possibly the smartest person in the world teams up with a flipping dinosaur after the inhuman gene is set aflame. On a quest to prove to everyone she’s smart and self-reliant, can she do so, all the while making some friends along the way?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Victor von Doom, T’Challa, Amadeus Cho…the greatest minds in the Marvel Universe all have one thing in common: they’re not smarter than a 4th grader! That’s right, the rumors are true – Lunella Lafayette is the smartest there is! Now it’s time to put her unrivaled intellect to the ultimate test. Thankfully her best friend, Devil Dinosaur, is thirty feet of mutated prehistoric muscle, making for the perfect combination of brains and brawn! And they’re going to need it to stand up to some of the worst villains the world has to offer – and maybe even one of the greatest heroes! Because, while Reed Richards, the guy who used to be the cleverest one around, is away, his best pal Benjamin J. Grimm is here to defend his pole position!
Why does this matter?
Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare co-write this all ages book that’s quite good at capturing the spirit of a young girl who just wants a little respect. She’s strongly written and fun. This volume also contains a ton of team ups including the X-Men, Ironheart, Doctor Strange, Hulk, and the ever loving Thing. That’s a lot of heroes!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This volume has a nice bookend feel as it opens and ends with Amadeus Cho, although the drama is raised to 11 by the end with many more heroes joining the fray. The volume tackles Moon Girl’s stubbornness to get help from others and the writing team does a good job having her grow and learn over the course of these six issues. She may be the smartest person on Earth but she still has plenty to learn it seems, which is kicked off by an alternate dimension Doctor Doom who takes her on directly. The creative team does a good job having the guest heroes serve as mentors to Moon Girl–whether she likes it or not–and they approach her in different ways. A strong case is made for Reeder and Montclare to write all of these characters at some point, with Doctor Strange being a highlight. They capture the differing voices well no matter if it’s Logan or Thing chewing up the scenery.
As far as Moon Girl, the character is a lot of fun. Reeder and Montclare get inside her head with a heavy use of captions–heavy for modern comic storytelling anyway–and her internal monologuing always seems to add something to the scene. I think a lot of young girls and boys should read this in part to see they too can be heroes sometime–or even right now–because Moon Girl is such a strong character. And yet, she still comes off as a kid in a lot of ways who may be super smart, but still has the sass many little kids have.
The art by Natacha Bustos and Ray-Anthony Height keeps the look fun and believable. It’s cartoony to a point but still believable and well rendered with lots of detail. The art does Amadeus Cho and Thing’s fight scene justice and makes Logan look badass. Moon Girl has a lot of gusto due to the good facial expressions and body language. It’s tricky to draw kids, but it’s never an issue when reading this book. The colors by Tamra Bonvillain give the series a bright spark that adds to the younger audience look and feel.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I was expecting more from Devil Dinosaur, who strangely ends up being more of a cute puppy in most scenes rather than a strong character. Moon Girl doesn’t really need the dinosaur, which definitely puts into question the character right there in the title. I can’t say how the character could be integrated better–and maybe it’s better in the arcs before and after–but it definitely sticks out as a missing piece.
Aside from this, the team ups are fun, but they do call attention to the fact that Moon Girl isn’t carrying this series alone. The captions do well to capture her spirit, but it’d be nice to see her on her own adventure fighting her own battles. Judging by the previews the following arc aims to do that though!
Is It Good?
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur volume 3 is great fun, and worth a look if you like strong character writing. The cameos from big time heroes add a flavor of the Marvel Universe that should please most, but it’s Moon Girl’s development that’s the most enriching.
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