Marvel is doing work putting classic all-ages comics of recent years into a slightly smaller digest-sized format. That works to reintroduce kids to great stories, but they also fit into their hands very well! I loved the new collection for Squirrel Girl, and Miles Morales is getting his time to shine in the format too. You can already get everything in this collection from volume 3, and volume 4 trade paperbacks (issues #13-24), but you can’t beat the fun new size!
All told this volume is 12 issues of action, innovation, and fun all-ages reading. I say all ages and I mean it! Kids are going to love the character and the bright positivity while adults will find the zany stories quite fun (among other things). The first half of the book 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 stories tackle 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, 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.
The second half of the volume has an episodic feel, as each issue has a different type of problem to solve and even takes place in a different location. The second half starts off with Moon Girl hearing voices in outer space, which forces her to make a ship to help the stranded person. The ship she creates to get there ends up being able to jump through dimensions and after this first chapter, she’s hopping around to meet alternate selves as well as sentient moons. The last chapter in this volume also has her teaming up with a variety of characters, which gives the final story a nice alternate feel from the rest of the book. Basically put, Brian Montclare and Natacha Bustos mix things up nicely throughout the volume. The b-plot of Moon Girl’s Doom-bot head managing the Moon Girl robots is also highly entertaining and adds a nice comedic element to the book.
As far as Moon Girl goes, the character is a lot of fun. Reeder and Montclare get inside her head with 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, 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 throughout the book is fabulous. Natacha Bustos draws in a cartoony style, aided by Tamra Bonvillain’s colors. The wholesome Saturday morning cartoon vibe is also bolstered by the layouts, which tend to use three to five panels per page. It gives the book a slower, more controlled pace with very little in the way of chaos or hard to understand layout designs. The look of the book also suits the giant red dinosaur, which I imagine could look rather ridiculous if rendered in a hyper-realistic style. There’s an endearing quality to the art via the character design too.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur 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. You’d be silly not to check this out if you love comics, have a kiddo to give a gift to, or just want to get into a childlike spirit.
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