Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur demonstrates how effective an in-continuity all ages book can be when crafted with care and heart.
Cosmic Cooties picks up where the book’s first arc left off. Young Lunella Lafayette emerges from her Inhuman “gestation” seemingly unchanged. But she quickly discovers that her Inhuman ability puts her bond with Devil, her big red dinosaur friend, on a whole new footing. Adolescent Kree Mel-Varr sneaks to Earth, hoping to impress his soldier father by capturing an Inhuman, viewed by the Kree as rebels against the empire. Moon Girl and Kid Kree’s back-and-forth climaxes at a Lego-based science fair. Along the way, Ms. Marvel and the Totally Awesome Hulk both drop in for visits.
Writers Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder make Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur something truly unique in Marvel’s line. The team builds on the momentum of the book’s introductory arc and does some strong, sensitive work developing Lunella. Her quest to figure out her place in the world, what her Inhuman heritage means, captures that elusive quality of a narrative beat that’s simultaneously specific to Lunella and yet universal-feeling and easily relatable. Montclare and Reeder are careful not to sand off Lunella’s sharp edges, making her at times exasperating, but sympathetic and completely fascinating. It’s a tricky balancing off that the duo aces.
The book’s other titular star can be harder for fans to get a bead on, what with his being a non-verbal dinosaur, but the conceit explored in Cosmic Cooties helps Reeder and Montclare spotlight Devil’s personality a bit more, especially his protective bond with Lunella. Kid Kree is a total blast and the push-and-pull between him and Lunella is a highlight. The writers also use guest star Ms. Marvel quite effectively, pulling off something of a role reversal for the popular young heroine that makes complete sense in context. Montclare and Reeder pack a lot of humor, intelligence and wonder into this story, crafting an all ages book that fans of any age can enjoy.
Natacha Bustos is back as the primary artist (with Marco Failla filling in on one issue). Bustos is ideally suited to this material. She brings the right mix of cartoon and realism, with a strong design sense, tons of imagination and a good feel for when to exaggerate and when to rein it in. Depicting pre-teens can be a tricky proposition in the comic book world, but Bustos has a light touch and pulls off that “awkward age” with a lot of endearing grace. Color artist Tamara Bonvillain excels throughout, wrapping the action in bright, warm tones that make the art really pop. The book is as much fun to look at as it is to read.
Cosmic Cooties keeps the winning streak going for Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. If you haven’t already checked out what is shaping up as one of Marvel’s most interesting books, remedy that oversight ASAP.