Task: Read an all-ages comic.
Alternatives: Read a superhero comic with a female lead. Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color.
I read this during my maternity leave a very long time ago and never got around to posting about it. I’d had a ton of stuff to say about Touching My Father’s Soul and Their Eyes Were Watching God, which arrived in the same Amazon order, but I didn’t have the same reaction to Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Please don’t misinterpret that–I liked this comic quite a bit. It just seemed so self-evidently good and its magnificent black nine-year-old girl main character so obviously important that I just didn’t know what else to say about it. So here we go.
Lunella Lafayette is a terribly precocious child heroine who is desperate to unravel the alien technology implanted in her DNA that leaves her vulnerable to a sudden transformation should she comes into contact with a terrigen cloud. There is also a time-traveling dinosaur. That, right there, is a hell of a premise, and it gets better.
Lunella has some superhero abilities involving consciousness swapping, but her real superpower is her brain. At first, it’s a liability. It’s hard to be a brilliant young girl. She doesn’t fit in. She struggles with parents who don’t understand her and with classmates who make fun of her. But she’s fierce, practical, and resilient. In one of my favorite scenes, she takes a stab at the Hulk, who has just introduced himself as the eighth smartest person in the world, saying, “I don’t need my smarts ranked – like some people.” The Hulk proceeds to be unbearably benevolently paternalistic–and wrong. It’s clear that you should always, always, always listen to Lunella, who unfortunately lives in a world where no one seems to default to taking her seriously. The great thing about her is that she doesn’t let that stop her.
I knew going in that Moon Girl is officially the smartest person in the Marvel Universe. I had no idea where she fit into it though (as discussed elsewhere, the Marvel/DC Universes sort of exhaust me). Thanks, Wikipedia, for informing me that Devil Dinosaur is a Jack Kirby creation from 1978. His original humanoid companion was the furry, apelike Moon-Boy. However, Moon Girl isn’t exactly a reboot of that character–she’s much more interesting (and this reboot kills off the original Moon-Boy).
I adored the way that Lunella was drawn. She wasn’t presented as “cute,” but as a messy and awkward pre-teen (and she is incredibly cute, really, but not in the way that involves having eyes bigger than her wrists). Similarly, Devil Dinosaur looks like a giant red T-Rex, an uncute apex predator (who is totally adorable and acts like a puppy).
Overall, this was an excellent and extremely fun read. Lunella is one of the best preteen badasses I’ve ever met in comics, and I enjoyed spending time with her and her enormous sidekick.