There’s an all-new, all-different hero coming to Marvel‘s “All-New, All-Different” initiative, and her name is Lunella Lafayette. A pre-teen genius equipped with a knack for invention and a trusty pair of roller-skates Lunella debuts this fall in a new ongoing series, where she’ll have a massive partner by her side — a bright red T. Rex named Devil Dinosaur. Created by Marvel Comics icon Jack Kirby, Devil is a cult classic Marvel character that’s popped up in a number of beloved series since debuting in 1978. Now, the prehistoric holdover is set to leap back into action, sharing the spotlight in “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.”
Written by Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare, the writing team behind Image Comics’ “Rocket Girl,” with art from Marvel newcomer Natacha Bustos, “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” presents Marvel fans with a truly odd partnership at its all-ages heart. The two are a pair that metaphorically mirrors the book itself: unmistakably inspired by classic Marvel, yet simultaneously fresh and youthful. Reeder and Montclare spoke with CBR about the upcoming series, discussing the series’ destined-to-be origins, its Pixar-esque feel, and Moon Girl’s surprise connection to the Inhumans.
CBR News: Considering all the characters in the Marvel Universe that have similarly lower profiles that would allow for equally big changes to their status quos, what made Devil Dinosaur stand out as the one you wanted to work with?
Amy Reeder: With a name like Devil Dinosaur, it’s pretty hard to lose! It’s a character near and dear to editor Mark Paniccia, and that enthusiasm has flown over into the rest of us. It’s pretty exciting to work on this book!
Brandon Montclare: It’s a little romantic to say Devil Dinosaur was the ultimate fantasy for us to bring into the new Marvel Universe. There are so many great characters, and truthfully, I don’t know that I have a favorite. But I’m always excited to work with obscure characters because they come with more creative freedom. And having read Marvel my whole life — working on any character is absolute wish fulfillment.
But when editors Mark Paniccia and Emily Shaw suggested Devil Dinosaur, it was indeed extra exciting, because it’s so different. So many of the characters are variants on costumed superheroes, the world that opens up when you start with a red T-Rex should keep you on your toes — and it has. Almost immediately after Devil Dinosaur, the idea of a Moon Girl materialized — and developed into something I love working on with Amy. In this golden course of events, the story gets fleshed out and we eventually hook up with Natacha Bustos — another dreamy part of getting to do this book. We’re all definitely excited to bring back this property in a big way. It’s even better to see how much the fans are anticipating the launch.
It’s been mentioned that Lunella has an Inhuman gene; how big of a role will the Inhumans play in the book, and is an eventual Inhuman awakening part of the larger ongoing story?
Montclare: The Inhumans — specifically the Terrigen-triggered metamorphoses that are happening throughout the Marvel Universe — play a huge part, but we’re approaching it from a different angle. Lunella is horrified by her potential to become an Inhuman, and is bending all her brainpower to think of ways to avoid it. In a very structured way, the Terrigen cloud is the “bad guy” Moon Girl is trying to beat.
The premise of this series sounds like equal parts teenage coming-of-age story and wild prehistoric adventure. Did one of those genres in particular attract you to this project, or is it the mixing of the two?
Reeder: I would say that the preteen angle appealed more to me at first glance and the cool dinosaur appealed more to Brandon, but as we’ve developed the story and intertwined those two themes, it’s impossible not to love it all. Moon Girl’s story is so much cooler with a dinosaur in it, and Devil Dinosaur’s tale is so much cooler with a young girl in it. It’s one crazy mashup, I guess.
Montclare: Amy’s only kinda right! I love that we’re able to create Lunella Lafayette and plop her in the Marvel Universe, and readers are going to see the world through her eyes. Devil Dinosaur is imbued with a personality and has his own character’s journey, but you’re limited in what you can do with such a character, and he’s most often used as a foil for Moon Girl. But I do love dinosaur action, probably more than Amy.
What’s the dynamic like between Devil Dinosaur and Lunella? DD is, of course, smarter than the average dinosaur, but Lunella is herself a genius. Do they see eye-to-eye?
Reeder: Definitely — eventually. And I’m sure that to make a great team, there was probably a spark there to begin with. But overall, their friendship is something that grows slowly throughout the first story arc, and this is the element that I am definitely most looking forward to — that slow development that gets them from point A to point B.
Nonetheless, it’s a pretty destined team up. They truly need each other, as opposites sometimes do.
Montclare: There are no team-up comics, or at least there shouldn’t be a dynamic where each character completes the other. That can, of course, also include conflict — but these two need to fit together like jigsaw puzzle pieces despite their differences.
From the few images we’ve seen so far, the book seems to have a unique look to it. What thought went into the design of Lunella? Were there particular character traits of hers that you wanted to get across visually?
Reeder: Lunella started as a concept of a character I’d been wanting to draw — an awkward, genius, roller-skating inventor and adventurer who is overlooked and underestimated. I originally imagined her as a young adult, but when Mark Paniccia suggested the existence of a “Moon Girl,” I immediately thought this person swimming around in my brain would be the perfect candidate.
I went with a plain, nerdy look for her — she wears safari shorts and science T-shirts. I think her hair and glasses are pretty exciting, but they’re all unintentional to her — she isn’t all that concerned with appearance. She’s very slightly chubby because, hey — we need more of that, and it’s cute.
Montclare: It’s a design that definitely works! People are latching on to it, and Natacha is already making it her own, in slight ways. I think enduring characters develop a physicality on the page, so I’m really looking forward to seeing that bloom.
Speaking of Natacha, I saw some pictures of her at 10 or 11 years old. It’s crazy how much of Lunella is there — a happy accident, or maybe fate? I hope she posts some of those old pics for fans!
So far, we know Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur are in the book, obviously, and Lunella’s predecessor, Moon-Boy, shows up as well. What can you say about the book’s other supporting characters? Will we meet Lunella’s family or classmates?
Reeder: It’s been pretty universal between Brandon, me and our editors that it’s important to showcase Lunella’s school and classmates as much as possible. It’s something I’d personally like to see more of in superhero comics, because when you’re a kid, school is really your life.
That said, she’s a bit of a loner, so her only friend, truly, is Devil Dinosaur.
Montclare: I’m actually most excited about the Killer-Folk — savage ape-men from the original Jack Kirby “Devil Dinosaur.” A tribe of these guys (and gal) get caught in the time warp and land in NYC. Like Devil Dinosaur, they’re immediately fish out of water, but how they adapt and evolve in the new world will surprise people. We’re definitely giving them a lot of dimension throughout the first arc.
This being a book set in the Marvel Universe starring a giant dinosaur, it’s safe to assume we’re going to get some big action scenes. What can you tease about the action half of the book — the villains or peril Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur will be facing?
Reeder: We’re pretty excited about the action element in this book! The setup is all there, obviously — we have ourselves a T-Rex in New York City! But Lunella will have her own version of fantastic action. She roller-skates, and she’s something of an inventor, so her gadgets will certainly come in handy.
Montclare: Action is almost exclusively an element the artist delivers. As a writer, I try my best to give opportunities for the artist to do visually interesting stuff. And with Amy co-writing, and her being a world-class artist, she really knows how to point the art in an exciting direction. Luckily that’s an easy job for both of us considering the premise of a time-lost Dinosaur in modern NYC.
It’s definitely not an easy job for Natacha! But she’s delivering really awesome, dramatic work. When that’s mixed with the focus on character-based stuff — which is equally demanded when you consider the Moon Girl half of the story — it’s the one-two punch that’s kinda always defined Marvel heroes since the days of Kirby.
“Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” #1 stomps into stores in November.
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