Written by: Amy Reeder
Art by: Brandon Montclare
Following both their tendency to juxtapose contrasting characters in team-up books and their recent trend of promoting new characters into older mantles, Marvel gives us the new Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur series. It makes sense that they would choose to reintroduce Devil Dinosaur into All-New, All-Different Marvel with his own (co-headlining) series given his recent surge of popularity following this summer’s Planet Hulk Secret Wars tie-in, where he became a bit of a fan favourite. Marvel continues their streak of self-awareness with respect to their characters and knows that the best place for a super-strong intelligent dinosaur is in a series exploring the more fantastical and out-there sci-fi corners of the Marvel Universe.
Moon Girl (alias Lunella Lafayette) is a new character though, and a far different one than the ape-like Moon Boy, who acts as a spiritual predecessor to Lunella in name only. She’s not an immediately likable character and breaks the happy-go-lucky mold that a lot of other young genius characters in this world fit under (I’m looking at you, Amadeus Cho). Although the tone of the book is a light, colourful one, having a protagonist who is impatient, anti-social, and an experienced smart-alleck helps the book keep one foot in a world of realism. A character with apparent flaws adds to the appeal of a series like this to grown-ups, although your inner-child still feels satisfied by reading it.
The first issue seems like a success in Marvel’s efforts to diversify the tone and subject material of their books over the last few years. Lunella and Devil Dinosaur are getting into high sci-fi hijinks and will assuredly end up stopping evil-doers but the series definitely doesn’t fit the same paradigm that most other stories taking place in the same Marvel Universe fall under. It isn’t a “superhero comic”. At the same time though, Reeder doesn’t try to distance the story from the rest of the world. References to other aspects of the 616 Earth are commonplace, and it’s clear that the story takes place in the same New York City that most of these other heroes call home.
In the same way that Kamala Khan is a fangirl obsessed with the Avengers and anything that fits into a cape and tights, Lunella is a fangirl for the science side of the Marvel Universe, aspiring to reach the level of Earth’s great super-scientists. The issue feels like a seed planted by Marvel that they hope will grow in the future, an investment into creating a new character that may become a more prominent part of their world in years to come. Marvel’s been working to speed up Avenger turnover with this soft reboot, and we see them promoting minor, younger characters into positions of power. This same month, we’ve seen Ms. America join the Ultimates, Wiccan and Hulkling join the New Avengers, and Miles Morales and Kamala Khan join the Avengers proper, among others. In the same way, you can picture an older Lunella on a different Fantastic Four or Illuminati roster years from now while reading the character’s foundation here.
The publisher’s drive to expand the range of art style and tone in their books and offer more non-superhero fare appears to be working for them, with DC trying to follow suit. Marvel’s mission to take risks with giving series to completely new characters should also be lauded. Not every series needs to take off and reach a Ms. Marvel or an Ultimate Spider-Man level of notoriety for the strategy to be considered successful. Even so, it feels Reeder and Montclare may have tapped into the same recipe for appeal with Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, and it will be interesting to see where the series goes.