I'll freely admit I never got the appeal of Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur. My first exposure to them was in the painfully bad "Fallen Angels" miniseries several decades ago, and -- ever since then -- the concept of a strange caveman riding around on a dinosaur has left a bad taste in my mouth. Yet, there was something about the revamped concept in "Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur" that made me curious enough to pick up the first issue. I'm glad I did.
"Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur" #1 stars Lunella as the titular "Moon Girl," a ridiculously smart young girl who is perpetually bored at school even as she's picked on, and who would rather be designing her very own detector to pick up signs of the Kree alien race. However, when Lunella finds the mysterious Nightstone, which originated in the Valley of Flame ages ago, the end result opens a way for the Tyrannosaurus Rex known as Devil Dinosaur to make its way into the present day, and into Lunella's life.
Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder use Lunella as the protagonist for the series, which is a smart move. She's a fun character, one that reminds me a little bit of former Hercules sidekick Amadeus Cho. She's smart, she knows it and she's growing increasingly exasperated with her school and fellow students. There's a great moment early on where Lunella notes to herself that she loves science, but hates science class. It's a great observation, one that shows how Montclare and Reeder understand their protagonist's mind. There's also a good balance here between the present day and the time of Devil Dinosaur; a little of the Valley of Flame goes a long way, but Montclare and Reeder give us just enough to set the stage for the two areas colliding, but not so much that you start to get antsy for Lunella's return.
Natacha Bustos' artwork is great in the present day; there's something about the way she draws Lunella with her big glasses and pulled back hair that makes her look adorable, yet still formidable. The crowning moment is when she's peering into her backpack at the Nightstone; she looks so enthralled and excited it's hard to not get a little worked up yourself. Similarly, Lunella's race across the Lower East Side of New York to get to school is fun because of the way Bustos draws it; Lunella is as off-kilter in posture as the trail she's leaving behind her, to say nothing of the deliberately scattered, slightly askew panels leading up to that moment.
The only part of the art I'm not quite so thrilled with is how she draws the cavemen in the Valley of Flame; they look less like slightly ape-like creatures and more like people who are trying a new fashion trend of all-fur, everywhere. With the setup of this series, though, that should hopefully not be an issue for too much longer. Fortunately, Devil Dinosaur looks great, especially with the flames leaping out of his eyes as he tromps through past and present -- and that's what really matters, right?
"Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur" #1 is a fun debut for this series; Montclare, Reeder and Bustos make me want to see what happens next, and that's exactly what you should achieve in a first issue. I might not be willing to go read old Moon Boy/Devil Dinosaur stories just yet, but -- when it comes to this incarnation of the concept -- put me down as a fan.