Writer: Amy Reeder / Artist: Ray Anthony Height / Marvel Comics
I’m of the opinion that art is at its best when it’s not just art for art’s sake. Art is powerful when it’s saying something, delivering a message that the creator feels the audience needs to hear. And when that message hits close to home, it gets people talking because ultimately, people want to see a little of their world within the myth of the superhero. With that said, something low key special happened within the pages of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur this week.
Issue #31 is a one-shot in which Moon Girl takes on a great cultural nemesis she never expected: smoking. For some reason or another, many of the people close to her have uncharacteristically become chain smokers and our hero wants to get to the bottom of it. This whole adventure was reminiscent of the old school comics that directly confronted societal monsters in a pulpy, larger than life way. Moon Girl is easily the best suited for the noble naivete a story like this takes. It’s easy to forget that young kids read these books, too and it’s commendable that Amy Reeder approached this story with a nostalgic vibe while also offering these characters relatable voices.
There’s a fantastic moment where Lunella is having a conversation about bees and nicotine (don’t ask…you just have to read it) with her mother and although it’s clearly setting the stage for the story’s conflict, it’s also a poignant look at her relationship with her mom. Moon Girl, at this stage in her superhero career, has seen all manner of amazing things and conquered such incredible threats and is giving her mother the benefit of her knowledge. As far as she’s concerned, this is the best thing she could do for her mom. Meanwhile, her mother just sort of wants her to stay a little girl while still letting her set her own sail on some Willow Smith carefree black girl type stuff. The cultural relevance of scenes like this is what makes this book such nuanced all ages Afrofuturism.
Ray Anthony Height rises to the occasion with his exceptional line work and expressive faces. He brings out every bit of the emotion in Reeder’s script, particularly in conflicted instances with Lunella’s teacher. And yet the action beats are exciting and fun in every panel. It takes a lot of talent to make a little girl with a Super Soaker look like a badass and Height does the job and then some.
Bottom Line: I did not expect so much fun coupled with such well-done characterizations in a “done-in-one” filler book. Every page of this issue is a testament to what makes this book so endearing and loveable.
8.5 Truth commercials out of 10
Reading Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur? Find BNP’s other reviews of the series here.
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