Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1 & Ms. Marvel #1
Story: Brandon Montclare, Amy Reeder
Art: Natacha Bustos
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain
Letters: Travis Lanham
Covers: Amy Reeder, Trevor Von Eeden, Jeffrey Veregge
Devil Dinosaur and Moon-Boy created by Jack Kirby
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur might be the most unlikely series to come out of the All-New, All-Different Marvel. Devil Dinosaur and his erstwhile companion Moon-Boy were the late Jack Kirby’s bizarre take on the longstanding dinosaur-meets-caveman trope. Their original series was quickly cancelled, and the pair have since only made intermittent appearances in the Marvel Universe. Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder pay homage to Kirby’s ludicrous prehistoric premise, but manage to fashion the source material into a more modern kid-friendly story about a preteen hero and her unique animal companion.
Lunella Lafayette is your classic gifted, resourceful child, only with a Marvel-induced twist. Too smart for school, she’s profoundly bored with her classes. Lunella lectures her befuddled teacher and classmates about evolution being a scientific fact and not just a theory. In turn, they mockingly refer to her as “moon girl.” Basically, Lunella’s the sort of young person the publisher hopes will be reading this title. But she harbors secret fears about being an Inhuman, and she’s fascinated with collecting alien technology. “My brain is all the super-power I need” Lunella declares. One day, she stumbles upon and inadvertently activates a macguffin that forms a portal to Dinosaur World. Guess what lumbering beast emerges from the other side?
Natacha Bustos and Tamra Bonvillain illustrate a bright and saturated world, whether they’re recreating a primeval forest or present-day Manhattan. Lunella comes across as fully-realized for a new character, not to mention an unapologetic nerd. Her frantic commuting to school on roller skate shoes of her own making is adorable and somewhat reminiscent of Tony Stark’s and Peter Parker’s own inventiveness. Thankfully, Bustos doesn’t try to reproduce Kirby’s outlandish designs. Her version of Devil Dinosaur is informed by contemporary artistic interpretations of tyrannosaurs, that is if tyrannosaurs were colored crimson. His mortal enemies the Killer-Folk look and strut less like stereotypical ape-men and a bit more like long-haired modern humans wearing fur coats. That’s probably for the best since ape-men were always problematic portraits for the primitive “other.”
Story: G. Willow Wilson
Art: Takeshi Miyazawa, Adrian Alphona
Colors: Ian Herring
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Covers: Cliff Chiang, John Tyler Christopher, Sara Pichelli, Justin Ponsor, Jenny Frison, Soni Balestier, Judy Stephens
Kamala Khan has had a short but acclaimed career as Ms. Marvel, so it’s a little surreal that there’s already a new Ms. Marvel #1. It’s an oddly prestigious status symbol for a character to endure several relaunches. But as with The Mighty Thor, the new series represents a return to form for the original creative team after a lengthy hiatus. The issue isn't quite as smooth a continuation of existing storylines due to corporate synergy dictating that Kamala is now an All-New, All-Different Avenger. If the previous 16 issues told of her origin tale and journey as novice superhero, the new #1 marks an upgrade in rank to marquee character.
Funnily enough, the comic immediately drops the reader into the thick of the action with Kamala fighting alongside her fellow Avengers before they’ve even officially formed in the actual Avengers title. There’s a lot going on, and the plot can often feel clunky and disjointed. Moving past her job as an Avenger, much of the story focuses on Kamala’s strained relationship with would-be love interest Bruno, who’s reacted to her rejection of his romantic overtures by beginning to date another girl. Then there’s the changing face of Jersey City, which has become a lot more blasé about the surge in supernatural activity since the debut of Ms. Marvel. And there’s a subplot involving a slimy real estate developer who’s been illegally exploiting Kamala’s likeness in his efforts to gentrify the neighborhood, which could be a shout out to real-world grassroots efforts to use her image to combat intolerance. All these threads weigh the comic down with heavy exposition, which may or may not be a deliberate move to express Kamala’s overwhelmed mood. The results are however somewhat unrefined compared to past efforts.
The last ten pages shifts the narrative voice from Kamala to Bruno, accompanied by a switch in primary artist from Takeshi Miyazawa to Adrian Alphona. Both are already proven entities, but placing their work side-by-side highlights their stylistic differences. Miyazawa draws fantastic backgrounds and strong facial expressions. They lean towards the goofy and exaggerated. Alphona’s faces are softer, and he excels in the quieter, more introspective moments. His panel-to-panel transitions are smoother. It’s also interesting to see how Ian Herring adjusts the intensity of his colors to fit the style of the artist. There's a noticeable shift towards the cooler tones for Alphona's pages.