Brandon Montclare, Amy Reeder and Natacha Bustos’ “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” #2 picks up right where the two title characters met for the first time. The opening scene follows Devil Dinosaur’s mini-Godzilla-like rampage through the city. He dominates the panels visually, and his path of destruction is exciting because of Bustos’ strong transitions and colorist Tamra Bonvillain’s cheerful, semi-translucent colors. However, as pretty and fluid as the action is, it doesn’t add much to the plot. Devil Dinosaur’s rampage ends off-panel. Combined with Bonvillain’s palette, Bustos’ clean linework and cartoony style are attractive, but the results are so buoyant there’s no feeling of danger. The exception is a panel where Devil Dinosaur’s scary teeth are emphasized in a facial silhouette, but that moment is quickly undone by what follows.
Lunella is amusingly cool and collected under pressure. This fits in with the idea that this is a kid genius who is trying to neutralize the Terrigen Mists by herself, but this also makes it more difficult for Montclare and Reeder to up the stakes. Bustos’ facial expressions and body language are skillful, but Lunella’s responses have a narrow range from frustration to mild worry and don’t give the artist a lot to work with. Montclare and Reeder have to lean on Lunella’s dialogue and thoughts to carry the exposition. Again, her lack of fear flattens the suspense, and the captions where she talks obsessively about the Kree Omni-Wave Projector feel like an awkward information dump.
Bustos’ changes of perspective emphasize Devil Dinosaur’s size, but he’s not scary. He’s like a big, overgrown puppy. He’s endearing but one-dimensional, and the creative team may not be able give him significantly more depth. Devil Dinosaur is cute, but there’s too much knowing reliance on that cuteness.
The whole setup reminds me of when Lockjaw was sent to Kamala Khan in “Ms. Marvel” #7. Their interaction was adorable, too, but it felt lighter, weirder and yet more natural. The big bulldog-like Inhuman’s presence and superpowers added something to Kamala’s life for a few issues, but he came and went. The creative team of “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” is faced with a new dilemma, as the character they’ve created is more interesting than the one they inherited. Devil Dinosaur hasn’t proved his worth as a co-star yet beyond his ability to create visual spectacles.
The bonding of a child and a pet is very predictable, and Lunella and Devil Dinosaur’s budding friendship feels old once you strip away the superficial labels. Given Lunella’s strong debut, one can’t help thinking her journey towards her powers might be more interesting without the big dinosaur in tow. She’s the best thing about the story so far, and the scenes in school and at home in the first issue were memorable. Lunella’s presence is minimized in the second issue and the story suffers.
The Killer Folk, the group of cavemen who came through the time portal with Devil Dinosaur, also take panel time away from Lunella and Devil Dinosaur. Their contribution so far is limited to predictable monkey jokes. The scene in the subway falls flat because the excessively long build fails to create tension and tries too hard to be funny. They’re annoying villains that don’t feel strong in concept or as a threat, and they’re easily the weakest part of “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” #2.
The art and the writing are kid-friendly, but unfortunately, they lack the dramatic or comic depth to sustain appeal for teen or adult readers. However, this is only the second issue and that could change if the story shifted to expanding Lunella’s ambitions and abilities. The main character still has star power, so she should be front and center.