Writers: Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare / Artist: Natacha Bustos / Marvel Comics
Holy OTPs, Moon Girl! It must be cuffing season already because love is in the air like nobody’s business this issue but Lunella ain’t having none of it. Swerve with a capital S, and the “S” stands for Science. I mean! No more of this dragged-out self doubt when it comes to Ms. Marvel, our old Moon Girl is back with a vengeance to tell everyone what’s what. Buildin’ legos and takin’ names. But let’s take it back to the beginning.
It’s easy to feel awful watching Lunella having to go through the painful process of not only struggling to make friends but to also have that friend totally misunderstand her affection and force their feelings onto her, but I honestly think Reeder and Montclare do a spectacular job of demonstrating how to let someone down with grace (or, you know, about as much grace as our favorite deadpan snarker can manage). In a world where consent is routinely dismissed, especially for Black women, Lunella’s refusal to be guilted into romance simply because Kid Kree befriended her and is one of a few people who understand her is an invaluable lesson for children. I remember the first time I encountered this problem in high school I panicked and couldn’t bring myself to be around the person I had become so close to simply because I couldn’t imagine a reality where those unrequited feelings wouldn’t be pushed onto me. After all, we continue to live in a society that prioritizes (hetero monogamous) sexual-romantic partnership above all other relationships, so how often do children and teens get to learn that they have a right to say no?
I also really feel like this issue gets back to the heart of what made us fall in love with the series to begin with. Lunella’s focus and brilliance are no longer confined by her attempts to impress Ms. Marvel, which means she’s less self-absorbed and her friendship with Devil Dinosaur can flourish once more. On this note, however, I really hope that Devil receives some kind of mechanism that allows him and Lunella to communicate because while there’s nothing wrong with experiencing anger, Lunella’s tantrums have begun to take on an alarming rate of verbal abuse that restricts all the maturing she’s done during this series. Or at the very least someone needs to intervene on Devil’s behalf without blaming him in the process.
One other enjoyable aspect that has returned in full force is the hilarious levity that the drama-filled storylines temporarily muted. I’m not saying Lunella’s problems shouldn’t be taken seriously, but I do think that this comic is at its best when we can read a couple panels of laughter. I also adore seeing Bustos be able to draw pages on pages of dynamic action shots; this issue is easily one of the most visually enjoyable so far and really ties together the themes that the writers have so carefully woven in. As with most of these endings, I’m left practically itching to know what the next storyline will hold for our Black Girl Genius on the road to realizing who she is and what her destiny holds.
9.3 out of 10