1 December, 2022

LitStack Rec: Bird Cloud: A Memoir of Place & Moon Girl

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder, writersmoon girl
Natacha Bustos, artist

Psst… I’m going to let you in on the ground floor of something marvelous.

In 1978, legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby brought to life the character of Devil Dinosaur who, with his ape-like friend Moon-Boy, were natives of “Dinosaur World”, a version of Earth in a parallel universe where dinosaurs co-exist with tribes of primitive humanoid beings. The series only lasted a year, but Devil Dinosaur continued to crop up in cameos in other Marvel comic book series.

Now we have a delightful new incarnation of Devil Dinosaur with the appearance of the first issue of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, released on November 25, 2015. But Devil Dinosaur is not the real star of the show.

Lunella Lafayette is a super smart, preteen girl in the lower East Side of Manhattan. She comes from a loving family, but is frustrated at school where she is bored by a science curriculum that she already has completely surpassed. She has been dubbed “Moon Girl” by her classmates, and her teacher, in frustration, calls her Miss Know It All, yet she opines that being a know-it-all would be the worst thing in the world (“Never learning? What else is there to do?”). She dreams of being in a “real school”, and hints that she might be affected by the Terrigen mists that turns people into “Inhumans” (the mutants who are a part of the Marvel universe, figuring into many Marvel media vehicles, including television’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.).

While Lunella is out looking for evidence of the Kree (aliens who appear to have created the Terrigen mists), she discovers an artifact known as the Nightstone. In an alternate universe, this Nightstone was the mystic centerpoint of a full moon blood ritual being undertaken by the “killer-folk”, an ape-like humanoid species, in the hopes of appeasing the “god-beasts” – dinosaurs – that roam their valley. These killer-folk had captured and planned to sacrifice some of the small-folk, tribesmen of the legendary Moon-Boy. In order to thwart the killer-folks’ bloody plan, Moon-Boy, on his devoted companion Devil Dinosaur (which looks like, what else? – a tyrannasaur), storms the ritual and takes the Nightstone but is overtaken and killed by pursuing killer-folk as the Nightstone dissipates from his grasp. With his dying breath, Moon-Boy charges his pal Devil Dinosaur to regain the Nightstone and avenge his death, and the beast chases after the offending killer-folk who have fled into a mysterious vortex which has opened in the wake of the now vanished Nightstone.

Back in our universe, rather than paying attention at her outdoor gym class, Lunella is pondering the apparently re-emerged Nightstone, which she has hidden in her backpack. The gym teacher snatches the Nightstone and teases Lunella with it (“This doesn’t look like a regulation dodgeball!”), but as she lunges to take it back, the vortex opens and spits out the fleeing killer-folk followed by the bellowing Devil Dinosaur. Everyone scrambles, but just as the huge beast begins to wreak mayhem in the schoolyard, Lunella’s voice rings out: Hey! Stop that!!!

And Devil Dinosaur stops. After all, she’s holding the Nightstone.

While Lunella wonders what the heck she has done, the huge beast gently closes his gigantic teeth on her backpack and walks away with the backpack – and Lunella – dangling from his massive jaws.

End of Issue #1.

Now, I realize I’ve told you the entire synopsis of the first episode of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. But as anyone who reads comic books knows, there’s a heckuva lot more to come; the first issue mainly sets the stage, so I hope I’ve enticed you rather than made you feel like you’ve gotten a mass of spoilers.

And besides, another thing that is so wonderful about comic books is that it’s not just about the story line. The illustrations are a huge part of the entertainment. And Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur has absolutely wonderful artwork. Yes, there’s action and adventure, but also, honestly, the illustrations at times are stunningly adorable, a welcome break from the bulging muscles and bloodlust that is part and parcel of so many modern day comics.

So even if you don’t normally delve into comic books – and especially if you do – you owe it to yourself to pick up the inaugural issue of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Don’t wait until the whole world is talking about it! Now’s the chance to get in on the ground floor of what is shaping up to be a fun and unique ride into the Marvel universe.

Take it from me – you’ll be glad that you did.

~ Sharon Browning

Author

  • Lauren Alwan

    Lauren Alwan’s fiction has appeared in the O. Henry Prize Stories, the Southern Review, the Alaska Quarterly Review, StoryQuarterly, in the Bellevue Literary Review. She is the recipient of a First Pages Prize, the Goldenberg Prize for Fiction, and.a citation of Notable in Best American Essays. Her essays have appeared in ZYZZYVA, Catapult, World Literature Today, The Rumpus, The Millions, Writer's Digest, and others. She is a prose editor at the museum of americana, an online literary review. Follow her on Twitter at @lauren_alwan and learn more at www.laurenalwan.com