Writers: Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare / Artist: Natacha Bustos / Marvel Comics
What is normal?
It’s a question most superhero books will grapple with at one point or another, and while many creators choose to cast their characters as symbols of human potential for great good or evil, very many others let their powers speak as metaphors for the human experience itself. What gives Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur an edge on this common theme, however, is how exactly it speaks to growing up Black girl brilliant in America without watering down Lunella’s story. Our story. After four issues (and a lifetime) of repeatedly being told she is both not enough and too much, Lunella finally caves to everyone’s wishes and falls into line… or does she?
While Lunella’s particular issue revolves around her genius, to be Black girl brilliant is not merely about education or academia, but surviving despite a climate that continuously calls you out of your Blackness and your womanhood. It’s knowing you were not meant to succeed and forging your own identity anyways, taking the slurs slung at you and breaking them open until they fit you like a supersuit. When Lunella reclaims the name “Moon Girl” for her own, it feels like the first moment a Black girl realizes can’t nobody tell her how to wear her hair or dress her body or carve out language as she sees fit. Rejecting “normal” isn’t an act of rebellion; it’s building the person she was meant to be. Reading this comic in particular, you feel that Devil Dinosaur is no longer the messy, destructive foil to Lunella’s careful, precise planning, but rather the embodiment of how her Black girl brilliance is viewed by the world. Fierce. Powerful. Unstoppable. It’s only by embracing this power that Lunella finally comes into her own.
Though the Killer Folk continue to be my least favorite part of the series, at only three pages their presence definitely feels less oppressive this round and serve as a great tool for developing the characters of Lunella’s family whose protective instincts prove right after all. I’m interested to see if in future issues they’re able to figure out that Lunella has been disobeying their parameters once more, or if Lunella is actually able to keep her secret identity safe. What kind of abilities is Moon Girl capable of now that she’s made the decision not to hold back anymore? This issue seems to be teasing at some exciting new developments in the near future.
Without a doubt Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur continues to hold its own in a comic world saturated with adult narratives, and I look forward to seeing just how this coming of age story shows promise of becoming a much-needed classic.
9.5 PB and Js out of 10