Marvel Legacy is in full swing and the publisher is still rolling out more books! The business saw a huge change last week with the business of Marvel switching hands from Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso to C.B. Cebulski. With the intense controversy of Secret Empire and strange reception to Marvel Legacy, there’s definitely room for some new hands over at the top of the publisher with the boots on the ground. In the meantime, we likely aren’t going to feel the immediate influence of this week’s books including Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #25.
Written by Brandon Montclare
Illustrated by Natacha Bustos
Colored by Tamra Bonvillain
Lettered by Travis Lanham
Reviewed by AJ Frost
“Nobody wants the Fantastic Four anymore…”
Well, that’s only partly true. If you’re a certain mouse with an endless, insatiable need for more and more cheese, then the Fantastic Four is not really a major concern. Indeed, it seems that on the comics side, Marvel has downplayed the vitality of the Fantastic Four in their main lines, often giving them more cameo roles than anything else. And even when they’re not the main focus of a book, having members of the Fantastic Four around feels a tad refreshing, even when their larger arc in the story is not understood completely. Nevertheless, having elements from that mythos within a broader narrative is a nice change of pace and certainly, one that feels familiar even when the Four are not at their full capacity.
And to be sure, this week’s Legacy edition of Moon-Girl & Dinosaur Devil (issue #25) only has half of the team featured, but the nature of their presence in the comic is a positive step towards their broader re-integration into the contemporary Marvel lines. Slowly, but surely, the status quo within the Marvel Universe is coming back into prominence. The temptation for meta-commentary within the issue is strong, and the creative team has no qualms in executing such comment.
Moon-Girl & Dinosaur Devil’s subtitle for this run is “Fantastic Three” and writer Brandon Montclare and artist Natacha Bustos waste no time in bringing together Lunella Lafayette with two veterans of the ink and page set: Human Torch and the Thing. The title, oddly, is a bit of misnomer, for there is no appearance of Dinosaur Devil within the issue, though Lunella ruminates often on the absence of prehistoric teammate. All the while, Ben and Johnny bicker in the background as they have for decades, while Lunella puts together a plan to find the rest of the Four.
Before reading the issue, I was worried that with her character essence being that of a child prodigy, that Lunella would be a drag in some way. Thankfully, that worry was never made tangible. Moon-Girl is such a delightful character, and even though she’s surrounded by superheroes with attitude malfunctions, she is a clear thinker and an obvious leader. Seeing her fresh and charmingly exasperated perspectives clash with the long-time cynicism of the Thing was among the strongest elements of the comic. Additionally, Montclare does an able job of navigating the inquisitiveness of Lunella with the world-weariness of Ben and Johnny. It is not always a thankful task to pair up a fairly recent creation with other characters who have been around for decades (and thus, have an extensive history) and make them jibe, but it works pretty well here.
Bustos’s art, too, matches the tone of the writing with great aplomb. There is a good mix of classic and modern here, with Ben and Johnny looking like their old, familiar selves while Lunella’s world is presented as relatable and vulnerable. There’s a many great instances of fluid motion, where the Thing’s inherent bulkiness is juxtaposed with Lunella’s physical smallness. It is great stuff.
There are some problems here and there. I felt that a lot of the references to the Fantastic Four not being around—or asking if people had ever even heard of them before—were too on the nose. Yes, the movies suck and the general public’s interest in Fantastic Four-related media is at an ebb, but we don’t need to be reminded of it constantly. Letting recent events go and giving the characters something interesting to do is a more pressing matter, which, luckily, is rectified more as the issue ends. Nonetheless, what is going on is totally blatant, and while not distracting per se, is noticeable from a mile away. Just something to be aware of.
Overall, however, this is a solid issue, and I enjoyed it a lot. Moon-Girl is such a promising and absorbing character, and the direction the storyline is going in seems interesting enough to keep reader interest going for the length of its run.