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Xenogenesis interrupted in MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #1

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This week, Lunella Lafayette returns in Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (2022) #1! Check out our spoiler-laden thoughts on the issue below.

What did you think of this week’s fresh Marvel Comics, True Believers? Which issue was your favorite? The Beat wants to know what you’re thinking! Let us know by either leaving a comment below this article, or over on social media @comicsbeat!


Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (2022) #1.

Written by: Jordan Ifueko
Penciled by: Alba Glez
Inked by: José Marzan Jr.
Color Art by: KJ Díaz
Letters by: Travis Lanham
Main Cover by: Ken Lashley & Rain Beredo
Devil Dinosaur Created by: Jack Kirby

Moon Girl (A.K.A. Lunella Lafayette) is the smartest one there is! But being the smartest person in the room isn’t always easy – especially when people take one look at you and decide you don’t look like the “smartest person” should. Fortunately, Lunella has Devil Dinosaur to rely on… but even a Tyrannosaur can’t provide a complete support system! Can she survive the experience?

A History of Moon Girl

Moon Girl was first introduced in 2016’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1 by Brandon Montclare, Amy Reeder, Natacha Bustos, Tamra Bonvillain, and Lanham. The series continued for 47 issues and also included contributions by Gustavo Duarte, Ray-Anthony Height, and Alitha Martinez. There are visual references to several of these adventures in this issue, including her faceoff against a young Kree, Mel-Varr, who adopted the identity of Captain Kree.

More recently, in summer 2022, Moon Girl appeared in a series of team-up one-shots. The continuity from these issues also comes into play, as they served as set-up for the catalyst for this storyline.

MG&DD (2022) #1

After the events of the team-up one-shots, Lunella has to deal with the fact that her parents know about her secret identity as Moon Girl. This has led them to insist she process her exposure to Terrigen Mist (and the subsequent adventures) with a qualified therapist. Given how hard it is to find a therapist with super heroic expertise (they must all be busy working with Moon Knight and Silk), the ever-capable and eternally resourceful kid genius has fortunately found a compromise: building community with her peers!

This has led Lunella to establishing a roller derby team, the SAD SAKs (that’s “Support Alliance Derby for Sensationally Abled Kids”). I adored this development, for a variety of reasons. For one thing, Roller Derby is a great sport that translates very well to sequential graphic narratives (see also: 2016’s Slam). For another, this development builds well on Lunella’s previous appearances (including her omnipresent roller blades).

A need to build community is also an excellent narrative step forward for the character. In the past, Lunella has been prone to trusting no one but her dinosaur. On the one hand, you can see why this is: not only does Devil Dinosaur literally share a mind with Lunella, making him a perfectly trustworthy ally, but she doesn’t have to worry about protecting him in battle, like she does for her child-age peers.

Nevertheless, while Lunella may feel most comfortable with DD, with whom she can be in control, this issue sees her attempting to form friendships with others Inhumans who experienced Terrigenesis at the same time she did. This storyline works particularly well when one of the other kids, Tasha, calls her out for attempting to position herself apart from her community.

Cleary, this community-based tension will afford a rich vein of thematic concerns to mine in future issues. Plus, this all sets the foundation for a thoughtful and somewhat text-weighted series, one where the main character must work closely with her allies to deal with problems that can’t necessarily be solved with punching. This will put it shoulder-and-shoulder with some of my very favorite Marvel Comics stories over the decades. Suffice to say you can consider my interest in this run piqued!

OMG Olivia

This issue also introduces a new antagonist, “OMG Olivia.” Disguising herself as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed grade schooler, Olivia is actually a Kree invader. While it makes sense to have another Kree antagonist – as mentioned above and alluded to in the comic, Lunella previously faced Captain Kree – Olivia goes a step further by being one of the descendants of the Kree scientists who worked on the initial Inhuman genetic modification project. 

As explained by Olivia, the perceived failure of the Inhuman project caused her family line to fall into ill repute. After unleashing an army of mind-controlled kids on the SAD SAKs at the roller rink, Olivia reveals her plans to Lunella: to return to the project started by her ancestors, and effectively “harness” the Inhumans in order to exploit their power and create a world that rivals the Kree Empire.

All this makes for an extremely engaging antagonist, and one who is poised to explore all kinds of interesting (and frankly very deep) ideas. Naturally, Olivia managed to scam a DNA sample off Lunella during the climactic scene of this very satisfying first issue, foreshadowing big trouble ahead.

Finally, I especially enjoyed the inclusion of a quote from Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler. This was an excellent way to continue the quotations that appeared throughout the previous run of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, and which have become a characteristic trope of the title.

The Parable of the Talents quote utilized here makes sense, especially with that novel’s focus on building community. Plus, in a Reader’s Guide interview included in my copy of Parable of the Sower, Butler cites “comic books” as one of her early literary influences, meaning this is a conversation that flows both ways.

However, while the Earthseed novels are quoted here, I couldn’t help but think of Butler’s Xenogenesis throughout this issue’s story. In those novels, humans must interbreed with extraterrestrials to create a new and distinct species. As the genetic result of aliens splicing human genes, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (2022) #1 sets Lunella up to face conflict on a similar scale.

Conclusion

Moon Girl hands out fliers while Devil Dinosaur tries on a wig.

This issue is an extremely promising start for what will hopefully be an ongoing series (rather than just a five-issue run). With the upcoming Disney+ animated adaptation on the horizon, more new readers than ever will be searching for stories about Moon Girl – and this issue goes well above and beyond the expectations those readers may possess.

VERDICT: BUY.


Rapid Rundown!

  • Miles Morales: Spider-Man #1
    • The new creative team of writer Cody Ziglar and artist Federico Vicentini pick up the baton from writer Saladin Ahmed’s fantastical run and jump right in with an action-packed first issue. After swinging around the multiverse, Miles is back in his original costume taking on Spider villain Scorpion, talking his way out of being dragged in by the NYPD for violating the Powers Act and dealing with being a high school teenager. And it’s this aspect of the book that has me hooked, as we see the emotional toll on Miles as he works to keep everything in balance. But this isn’t a self-therapy Spider book as it’s smart, fun, and energetic, and if that wasn’t enough, there’s a mystery character that knows a ton about Miles. All of this is brought together by Vicentini’s artwork with its stellar storytelling and hyperkinetic styling enhanced by color artist Bryan Valenza‘s vibrant coloring and gritty texturing. This is a cool quirky-looking book that I can’t wait to see where it goes. – GC3


Next week, the ones have it with Dark Web: X-Men #1, Invincible Iron Man #1, Monica Rambeau: Photon #1, and Origins of Marvel Comics: Marvel Tales #1!

Miss any of our earlier reviews? Check out our full archive!

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