When you’re a kid growing up in the heart of the Marvel Universe, you have to deal with things like alien invasions, or the transformative power of the Terrigen Cloud. But it’s not all bad living in New York City, because there’s also opportunities for some out of this world fun, like befriending a giant, crimson Tyrannosaurus Rex and inventing crazy devices to help you fight crime. Brilliant preteen Lunella Lafayette, one of the title characters of “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur,” experienced both the good and bad sides of Marvel Universe life in the first arc of her ongoing series as she met, bonded with and became a crime fighting duo with Devil Dinosaur, using her vast intellect to try to prevent the Terrigen cloud from activating her Inhuman DNA.
Unfortunately she was unsuccessful in the latter and the series first arc ended with her going into a transformative cocoon. So what will she be like when she emerges, and what challenges await her? For the answers to those questions and more, we spoke with writers Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare about the aftermath of their first arc, their plans for the series next story with artist Natacha Bustos which introduces a new Kree antagonist.
CBR News: This first arc of “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” was about Lunella coming to terms with who she is, especially her Inhuman heritage, and the last few pages of the Terrigen cloud transforming her really hammered that home.
Brandon Montclare: During development, the idea of Lunella being an Inhuman was suggested, and as we thought about it, it gave us a different angle. One that worked to the story’s advantage. It’s a fear of change, the kind of thing to which people can relate.
It’s not so much that she comes to terms with her Inhuman heritage — it comes to terms with her! It’s a “tragic ending” to the arc, in a classical sense. Her conflict wasn’t Killer Folk, or Omni-Wave Projectors, or dealing with Devil Dinosaur — she wanted more than anything to stay human. And she failed. We always knew we were going to do that.
So the idea here would be that all she wants to do is save the day, save herself, and not have to face it. Then, at the end of the first arc, she would fail in avoiding it. That kind of parallels life, though. I don’t think it’s so subtle in this book that turning Inhuman and facing change are kind of the same thing in that you can’t avoid certain changes in life.
So it was a little bit of a twist. Hopefully it was unexpected.
Yeah, I read it this morning at breakfast and it led to tears in my waffles.
Amy Reeder and Montclare: AWWW!
Reeder: That’s what our goal was. We wanted it to be as sad as possible. [Laughs]
Montclare: When we were developing it with Marvel, we were like, “Hey, can we have her beat the system?” And they were like, “We don’t want go there just yet.” I guess it would have been too much, and unraveled the rest of the Marvel Universe. [Laughs]
So we enter our second arc with a bit of a tragedy. A lot of it is, “Does she accept it? Or does she resent it?” We’re going to be very fruitful in the next six issues — in terms of Lunella’s “coming to terms with it”.
Of course, Devil showed just how loyal he is to Luna by gathering up her cocoon and sitting watch over it. It’s kind of easy to view him as a faithful dog, especially since he’s teamed with a human. Is that how the two of you view him?
Reeder: Kind of. He’s certainly more dangerous than a dog. We’re aiming to make a combination of a best buddy comic and a person with their pet comic. We tend to think he’s very smart, but the dog comparisons are kind of obvious sometimes, like when he gives her a big, slobbery lick.
Montclare: By very smart, we mean dog smart as opposed to whatever the lizard smart equivalent would be. He’s a nice foil to Lunella. He’s simple and doesn’t outthink himself like Moon Girl sometimes does. So it’s good to have that there.
They’ve become good friends, and even though she changes, we know the one who is going to accept her, even before he sees what hatches, is Devil Dinosaur.
What about her parents’ roles in the series moving forward? It seemed like we got a pivotal moment in Lunella’s relationship with her mom in issue #6 when she saw her daughter take out the Killer Folk.
Reeder: That’s kind of the interesting thing about this. Her parents know that she’s got the Inhuman gene. They know she’s different, but they’re still trying to raise her as normal.
That scene you mention is definitely a pivotal point, though. Up until that point they were basically trying to make her live a normal life. They didn’t really recognize that she’s different and she’s going to be even more different.
Montclare: Yeah, they’re very protective, but since this is a story about Lunella growing up, we’re also dealing with her parents. When you’re watching your child grow up, is there ever a moment where you can let go and say, “My child is an adult?” Lunella, of course, certainly isn’t an adult, and as long as she’s fighting cave men and riding on red dinosaurs, I think they’re going to be legitimately worried.
I have a six year old, and I know when you realize your child doesn’t need you anymore is a big moment.
Can we assume Lunella’s dad knows about her heroic activities as well? It was just her mom who witnessed the fight with the Killer Folk.
Montclare: Yeah, both parents know. It would be nice to get more time with them and everybody, but we’ve got to move the comic forward. You get to do a little bit of that and then you have to pack it with easy to understand things, like, her parents may not understand her, but they love her and they worry about her.
That’s another potential obstacle for her. This life is not something I think any parent can fully accept, at least not for a little child. The tension between her and her parents is going to continue. Even though we had that big reveal, that doesn’t mean her parents are going to accept it. Its’ not like, “Oh, I saw you handle yourself against some cavemen, so go out and fight aliens.” It’s still going to be something they definitely don’t want her to do.
I think Lunella’s the youngest Marvel hero since Power Pack to have her own book. As you mentioned, her parents would definitely be concerned, but what about other heroes around the Marvel Universe who learn that there’s a preteen girl riding around and fighting crime with a dinosaur?
Reeder: Lunella Lafayette is 100% a part of the Marvel Universe. Amadeus Cho (the totally awesome Hulk) ran into Lunella in Issue #4 and had some words of advice. The Avengers have been so busy lately, she’s not on their radar — yet — but there are more guest appearances to come as Lunella and Big Red make bigger splashes in the world.
How much time passes between the end of “Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur” #6 and the beginning of issue #7, where you kick off the series next arc?
Montclare: Some time has passed, but we’re going to pick things right up with her coming out of the cocoon.
Reeder: It’s only the incubation period.
Will we know right away how the Terrigen Cloud affects Lunella?
Reeder: That’s something you’ll have to wait and see, but it will be rewarding. We don’t even want to spoil that part of the story, because she’s going to end up with an interesting response to the Terrigen. But her super power has always been her brain, and that’s not going to change. We came up with a really cool idea that I think people will like. It keeps us on subject, but it’s also kind of outrageous.
Montclare: Yeah! It’s never been done before with an Inhuman, and it fits very much with the story and character. It’s not something that doesn’t make any sense. It was very thoughtfully planned out and it’s going to take pretty much the better part of the second arc to really get what has happened to her. There’s going to be the big reveal basically on page one of issue #7, but that also has some mystery behind it that’s going to take a while to play out.
So her fun inventions will still be a big part of the series?
Reeder: Most definitely!
Montclare: Yes, as long as our artist, Natacha, can invent new stuff. Because sometimes it’s hard to keep coming up with new goofball things.
The inventions Natacha brings to life are fun, but one of the best things about her art is the humanity and heart she puts in the characters’ expressions. When Lunella is down, it breaks my heart.
Reeder: Yeah, she’s good at drawing Lunella. I feel really, really lucky that we get to work with her. She’s so good at telling stories, and she does them in certain ways that we would never thought of and are always really appropriate. It’s been a real privilege to work with her, especially since she cares so much about the book. She’s often making designs for all the little gadgets Lunella’s making. She cares a lot about the different clothes characters are wearing. She cares about every last detail, and puts a lot of Easter eggs in there too.
Montclare: I worked with her on a short story for Vertigo, and that’s how she got on my radar. Amy and I were developing “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” for a long time before Marvel finalized our artist, who was of course Natacha. She wasn’t there in the beginning, or when we were throwing all this stuff around, but Amy is an artist, and I like to to think I can talk the talk and walk the walk. When it came time to work on the issues, we really wanted to make this Natacha’s book.
I think right off the bat her stuff was beautiful, and now when we think about how we approach a script, it’s really Natacha first.
#7 has a guest artist, drawn with tremendous fun by Marco Failla. Then Natacha is back on issue #8. It really has gotten to the point, and I hope Natacha would agree, that she’s the prime mover on the book. Everything me and Amy do is to showcase what Natacha does — and that’s because she is such a strong artist. She does everything from emotions to the little details, and her action and layouts are all spectacular stuff. She’s the best and I think when you look back on “Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” the first thing you’ll think of will be Natacha Bustos.
The second arc will introduce a new character named Kid Kree. What can you tell us about him?
Montclare: He’s going to be pretty cool! I hope. I thought the Killer Folk were pretty cool, and Kid Kree is just what he sounds like. He’s a young kid from a warrior culture who wants to impress his elders, so he thinks, “We designed all these Inhumans as weapons thousands of years ago. They belong to us. I’m going to go capture one.” That will technically set him up as a villain, but this arc is going to have a lot of twists and turns. So in our second arc, we’ll introduce Lunella’s fourth grade alien nemesis. [Laughs]
Reeder: [Laughs] Are we going to reveal the name he’s going to go by?
Montclare: Yeah. He’s going to be disguised as a kid in Lunella’s class. His name is Marvin Ellis. They’re going to be rivals in school, not knowing that they’re rivals in superheroics.
Reeder: In battle.
He sounds like a bratty space kid, reminiscent of Kid Gladiator from Jason Aaron’s “Wolverine & the X-Men” run.
Montclare: [Laughs] He is bratty.
Montclare: Lunella is a brat sometimes too, though. She’s growing out of it, and he’s still a little bit behind. He has a chip on his shoulder almost as big as Lunella’s. That’s going to lead to some conflict.
Going back to what you were saying earlier, it sounds like your mission statement is to provide some all-ages fun while embracing the wonderful toys that come from being an in-continuity Marvel book like the Kree and the Inhumans.
Reeder: Yes, everything we do here is in continuity. This is something that isn’t separate from the Marvel Universe. The character is very much involved. The next guest star is going to be big news for Marvel fans.
So, yeah, that’s the nice thing. It’s a balancing act, but we try to make it enjoyable for every age and something that has weight in the Marvel Universe.
Montclare: Exactly. It was very important from the get-go to not make this book separate, or its own little thing. What you’re describing is what makes Amy and I a good team, because I know all this stuff. I grew up reading about it, so I can come up with the Omni-Wave Projector, or the Kree and their history. Amy doesn’t really have that encyclopedic knowledge in her head.
Reeder: Not so much. I didn’t even grow up reading manga. I discovered it in college.
Montclare: I can put all that stuff in. It has to work on a level where anybody can understand it, which people always say, but sometimes things become a little too murky and hard to manage. But if it makes sense to a reader like Amy, it will make sense to everyone. Hopefully, with all the Kree flavors, weird alien throwbacks, and other elements like the Killer Folk, there’s something to call back to if you like that kind of history. But if you don’t know about it, it’s not something you need to know about!
That’s something that people say a lot, but I don’t know if it always works and with Amy she’s going to make it work because she didn’t read the same comics I did.
Reeder: I’m a strong believer in making comics people can just pick up, read and understand what’s going on.
So we might not necessarily see a “Civil War II” arc of “Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur,” but the fallout from that event will inform the book.
Reeder: Exactly! “Civil War II” is happening in Lunella’s world, but her story isn’t involved in a direct way in those events, so there isn’t a crossover.
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