After doing some research on Lunella Lafayette (Moon Girl) of the Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur series, I decided to read as much of the series as I could find (up to issue 9) and after reading it, I would think about it in light of our recent discovery of her super-intelligence being rated above Reed Richards’ as canon in the Marvel Universe. I wrote about it in a previous related article: There’s a New Super Genius on Marvel Earth.
Having read it (and before I knew it was a Glyph award-winning comic) I couldn’t say it was awful, because it wasn’t. It’s warm, friendly, approachable, a little quirky, a bit of teen angst (though she is not even supposed to be ten yet — I will attribute that to her heightened intelligence), and as fun as some of old Marvel used to be. I got hints of early Spider-man with the subtle notes of Nova, the Human Rocket from the seventies. Fun times…
A quick summary, Lunella Lafayette is a super-genius. But in the classic way of smart people not have good people skills, she doesn’t make friends well, is smarter than everyone she knows and people keep wanting to treat her like a little kid. Which she is. On the outside. On the inside she is a super-genius tackling the big issues such as Kree experimentation on the Inhumans twenty thousand years ago which has caused genetic material from those experiments to find their way into the Human genome.
This wouldn’t even be an issue, since those genes won’t do anything without a rare, extremely hard to find, catalyzing agent. Which, as fate would have it, happens to be floating around New York turning people who have the gene, into green eggs experiencing Terregenesis, a genetic transformation brought on by the Kree Inhuman experiment genes and the Terrigen Mists which were released by the Inhumans some time ago during a crossover I can’t remember at the time. I’m sure it was really big and important. But not to me.
Anyway, this Terrigen Mist cloud is remaining coherent and wandering the skies of New York randomly appearing and turning Inhuman-potential Humans into fully-fledged Inhumans. (For those wondering how or why this works, I will have to refer you to other articles at a later time, suffice it to say, mutants are out and Inhumans are in due to licensing issues with movie production. This could change at any time and maybe mutants could make a come back.)
Our heroine, by dint of her genius has determined she is an Inhuman and has created technology to warn her of impending Terrigen Mists which might trap her in the open. Her greatest fear is being transformed beyond her parents ability to love her. (This kid is so sweet, my black coffee was transformed into maple syrup. No, really!)
With the “random” arrival of the Omniwave Projector, Lunella’s life picks up steam. She goes from trying to get into specialized schools, to chasing a red dinosaur, hominids from an alien timeline, a missing device capable of altering reality and the impending threat of a transformation into a hideous monster. No, not just puberty, either.
Just good clean fun.
We are supposed to take it on faith that Devil Dinosaur manages to be able to hide in New York without being found. Yes, he is smarter than he appears to be and I will attribute it to the same mutation which makes him red and capable of lifting up people with just his teeth…
A fun mixture of high tech disguised as low tech but putting me in mind of Hobie Brown, the original Prowler who made his own equipment as well. A curious note: the girl was mad intelligent BEFORE her Terregenesis. Most of her gadgets, toys and hacks she has shown thus far were created before her transformation.
She appears to have a number of adversaries: The Killer Folk, a group of super-intelligent hominids from a parallel timeline where humanoids and dinosaurs live together. (See Volume One of Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur for more details on that timeline.) The Killer Folk have presumably killed Moon Boy and come to the future after the Omniwave Projector which was found during Moon Boy’s time. (See above glowing McGuffin in the above panels.)
Since the Omniwave Projector can technically alter reality and give people superpowers (its how the first Ms. Marvel got her Kree DNA and metahuman abilities…) it will be the reason the Killer Folk could learn to adapt to the Human world, including their improving language skills and increased cognition. It will also be the most likely explanation for Devil Dinosaurs increased physical durability, agility and intelligence as well. (And if it isn’t, it should be. Feel free to send me a Marvel NO-PRIZE at your convenience.)
The series managed to sneak in another hero, the new green Hulk, Amadeus Cho. He and Devil Dinosaur mix it up and the Dinosaur holds his own. Cho is appropriately condescending and superior which bounces off of Lunella, unimpressed with his accomplishments or his intellect.
Overall, I must admit to being surprised by the quality of the read, even if I am not always completely impressed by the artwork. The art isn’t terrible and when I look at it I find the lines to be just enough, almost minimalist by design. The family scenes, the school scenes are quick but thorough, Lunella’s normal life is fleshed out enough to not seem tacked on to a superhero adventure.
Overall Rating 8 of 10 —Excellent
The writers have been very tidy and crafty having done their research, chosen an interesting juxtaposition of stories and characters. By remixing the stories of Devil Dinosaur, the Kree, the Great Kree Experiment, the Inhumans (as a stand in for mutation) and a young genius trying to figure out how to come to grips with her burgeoning intellect. Now the addition of Kid (Captain) Kree and some new bumps in her road to understanding her possible Terregenesis, the series is rounding itself out well, introducing new elements at a nice pace.
With the recent visit of Ms. Marvel, this new more diverse Marvel seems more realized and the sandbox seems even larger. Though I had few expectations with the creation of this series…
Okay, being completely honest for a minute, we can do that, right? We’re all friends here— I had absolutely no belief that anything in the modern age could be done with Devil Dinosaur, it was a great idea in its day, in its limited thematic scope, let alone with a new character and Devil Dinosaur, given Marvel’s previous track record with characters of color. This just seemed to be a series poised for Disaster-ville. I just thought I should keep it real with you.
…I am pleased to say I did enjoy each issue and looked forward to the next one. From me, that’s high praise. It has been a while since I read a comic which made me want to read the next one.
It has been a strong and enjoyable read I can enthusiastically recommend. Lunella Lafayette, in the right hands, could grow to be a great new addition to the Marvel Universe.
The Answer-Man’s Archives are a collection of my articles discussing superheroes and their powers in relationship to their respective universes. We deconstruct characters, memes, profiles and how superheroes relate to real world culture. You can find other Archives on Quora and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange or at The World According to Superheroes.
A series review is a quick look at a series that I might go back and review individually when the time presents itself. This gives me the chance to say something about a series until I can focus my attention on it for the more discerning reader.
Thaddeus Howze is a writer, essayist, author and professional storyteller for mysterious beings who exist in non-Euclidean realms beyond our understanding. You can follow him on Twitter or support his writings on Patreon.