This is not exactly a spoiler, but not a lot happens in the first issue of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Like many first issues in Marvel’s “All-New, All-Different” universe, it spends a lot of time setting up the tone of the book going forward. And Moon Girl’s tone is so unrepentantly joyful, it doesn’t matter.
Minor spoilers ahead for Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1, by Brandon Montclare, Amy Reeder, Natacha Bustos, and Tamra Bonvillain.
The set up of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is pretty simple: it’s what happens when Lunella, a smart, inquisitive young girl with a passion for science meets Devil Dinosaur, the iconic Jack Kirby creation that is... a giant dinosaur.
He roars a lot. It’s his thing.
The first issue goes full on in its adoration of the classic Jack Kirby era of comics from which Devil Dinosaur was born—between the moments that the book focuses on Lunella, we get flashbacks to the time of Devil Dinosaur and his classic companion, Moon Boy, as they battle the Killer Folk, a race of primate-esque beings that are another classic Kirby hallmark.
In fact, the actual set up feels very much like a merging of that era with the modern day Marvel. You have this wild, zany action in the past, all dramatic dialogue that wouldn’t sound out of place in a silver age comic, sharply contrasted with the very modern Marvel setting of a young girl at school. It’s very Ms. Marvel, but with an even younger protagonist with her family and friends (well, classmates—Lunella is a bit of a loner), against the backdrop of the ongoing spread of Terrigen Mists that has been touched on in several other new Marvel books. They’re two disparate worlds that come together in a compelling way, both tonally and aesthetically — and by the end of the issue, quite literally, when Devil Dinosaur and a horde of Killer Folk come charging through a giant portal to the present.
A lot of that is down to the gosh darn cuteness of it all. Natacha Bustos’ art is just the right amount of cartoony to give everything a wonderful sense of levity, even the giant roaring dinosaur. It’s complimented by Tamra Bonvillain’s vivid color work, which bursts off the page. It almost makes Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur feel like a sugar-coated Saturday morning cartoon; you just breezily accept everything going on. (Inhumans? Sure. Supersmart little girl? Yeah, what the hell. Killer-Folk? Great! Giant dinosaur? Of course!) But it’s also down to the way Reeder and Montclare totally nail their new protagonist in such a short period of time. You can’t help but fall in love.
Supersmart without being arrogant, Lunella is an adorable version of the long time Marvel child prodigy Amadeus Cho, with an Inhuman twist. She’s discovered she’s got Inhuman DNA, and is focusing all of her considerable smarts on finding a way to avoid interacting with the mists so she doesn’t turn into something she’s not. It’s a very primal, emotional response, despite Lunella’s vastly advanced intelligence. That, paired with her loner life at school, makes for a compelling relatability that’s refreshing in Marvel’s line up of heroes young and old.
It might not have a lot going on from the very get go, but Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur’s uniqueness — in a sea of status quo shake ups and series continuations — is too charming to resist. Hopefully the series can put all of that adorability to good use going forward.