Sunday 26 November 2017

#CBR9 Book 103: "Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, vol 1: BFF" by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare and Natacha Busos

Page count: 160 pages
Rating: 4 stars

From the back blurb:

Lunella Lafayette is an Inhuman preteen genius who wants to change the world! That job would be a lot easier if she wasn't living in mortal fear of her latent inhuman gene. There's no telling what she'll turn into - but Luna's got a plan. All she needs is an Omni-Wave Projector. Easy, right?

That is, until a red-scaled beast is teleported from the prehistoric past to a far flung future we! Together they are the most Marvellous Team-Up of all - the Inhuman Moon Girl and time-tossed Devil Dinosaur! But will they be BFFs forever, or just until DDs dinner time?

And Lunella soon learns that there are other problems with having a titanic T. Rex as a pet in the modern-day Marvel universe. School, for one. Monster hunters are another - especially when they are the Totally Awesome Hulk! Then there's the fact that everyone's favourite dino didn't journey through time alone. Beware the prehistoric savages known as the Killer Folk - New York City's deadliest tourists! Can Lunella handle all this turmoil...and keep herself from transforming into an Inhuman monster?

To begin this review, I think it's helpful background to say that my husband is a HUGE fan of everything Jack Kirby. This is not all that unusual, Jack Kirby is an undisputed genius when it comes to comics creating, and while Stan Lee is still alive and gets to gurn his way through obligatory cameos in every single Marvel movie, Kirby's legacy isn't always addressed in the same way. Of all the Marvel movies put to screen so far, it's probably the Thor movies that have incorporated the most of the Kirby aesthetic, and brilliant New Zealand directer Taika Waititi has gone the furthest to fully embrace both the design and sometimes full on nutty plot shenanigans of Kirby on screen, with Thor: Ragnarok. My husband was beyond delighted, that's for sure.

Now, I don't really like Kirby's stuff as much as my husband, possibly because I'm really just not that big a fan of the grand Silver Age of comics (and all the DC stuff with the Fourth World just mainly bores me - although I acknowledge that DC's Darkseid is a much cooler villain than his obvious Marvel rip-off Thanos, and Big Barda kicks ass, no matter how boring her husband is). One comic of his that just delights me no end, however is the original Devil Dinosaur. The plot is so so, I am just completely taken with the big red dinosaur and his adventures with the clever Moon Boy. That I'm a fan of Devil Dinosaur should not be a surprise to anyone who has seen my avatar in a number of places - it's that fierce lizard stomping in a very memorable fashion.

So I was always going to want to read this re imagining of Devil Dinosaur, pairing him not with another male side-kick (because Moon Boy is most certainly the side-kick), but with a fiercely intelligent girl of colour. Marvel has been kicking ass all over the place in terms of representation for various minorities for years now (Miles Morales as Spider-Man, Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel, Sam Wilson as the current Captain America, Black Panther, the newest Iron Man being Riri Williams, a teenage girl of colour, to name but a few). As Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur seems clearly geared towards a slightly younger audience than some of their other comics, making the heroine both a budding super scientist (with a secret lab deep under her school) and black is a big deal. For a lot of young women of colour, that sort of representation matters a lot (this reviewer says sagely from her extremely privileged middle aged white cis-gendered perspective).

For all that this is a comic possibly aimed at more middle grade readers, there was some surprising violence within the pages. Devil Dinosaur's original sidekick, ol' Moon Boy is disposed of in a rather gruesome fashion (RIP Moon Boy - long live Lunella, the Moon Girl), which seemed almost needlessly harsh to me. There's a lot of themes that should be recognisable to teens - overbearing and overprotective parents, teachers who just don't understand, classmates who are prone to bullying - Lunella has a lot to deal with, even before she gets a rampaging T. Rex to take care of.

Now, I really know little to nothing about Marvel's Inhumans (and the dire reviews of the current TV-series has not in any way made me tempted to use that as a way to find out more). I know that some of them have appeared briefly in the pages of Ms Marvel (who is also Inhuman, I think?), but I honestly am not sure why Lunella lives in such constant terror of having her latent gene activated. Some of them go bad or monstrous, I guess? If Kamala Khan is in fact one of the Inhumans, they seem pretty cool to me, but Lunella's driving force throughout this whole first collection of comics is to figure out a way to stop herself from becoming Inhuman, while also befriending the time displaced Devil Dinosaur, and eventually taking on the equally displaced prehistoric bullies The Killer Folk (who adapt from the Stone Age to modern day New York admirably quickly).

This was a fun comic, and I am absolutely going to want to read more, especially to get my fix of my favourite big red lizard. I love that guy.

Judging a book by its cover: The cover is fairly minimalistic, as comics covers go. Just super cute Lunella in her school gear, and Devil's giant head. Now, some might say that Lunella is bending forward to give Devil Dinosaur a kiss, but that seems very unlikely with our unsentimental scientist heroine. Most likely, she's just trying to observe something on his nose up close.
  Crossposted on Cannonball Read

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