collected in my "Timely Comics" edition, so in a small way I feel like this is, at least for me, a close on the first chapter (or with hope, just the prologue) of this book. The "Timely Comics" editions were published a few months into the post
Let's Recap: Super-genius 9-year-old Lunella Lafayette has been reluctantly bonding with the time-displaced Devil Dinosaur while also fearing that he might eat her. DD has been reluctant to let her go home because he doesn't want to let the Nightstone/Kree Omni-Wave Projector out of his sight and Lunella is just as stubborn about leaving it behind. Meanwhile, the evil cavemen of the Killer Folk have picked up some rudimentary English and robbed some clothes off some unsuspecting subway riders and NYC police. Lunella finally convinces DD to let her leave, Nightstone in hand, but she isn't out of Big Red's sight for a minute before she is jumped by the Killer Folk.
Before I get into the issue, let's take a moment to appreciate this cover. Remember last time, how I went on at length about the waning usage of sound effects words in comics and how they exist as a visual element in the storytelling? Well, as of this issue, I am convinced that Montclare and Reeder are making an active effort to rehabilitate the onomatopoeia in comics. I love that not only do we have Devil Dinosaur's "roar" in big yellow and pink bubble letters, but that they physically interact with the page like an actual roar would, literally being the physical force of the roar nearly blowing Lunella over. It's also a fun visualization of their dynamic, which is an ideal "show, don't tell" moment for the cover.
|The inherent dangers of the self driving car.|
Before you get too worried that one of our protagonists just offed someone (I don't know why this is a concern, considering he's a freaking dinosaur), don't worry. They just rolled the car off him. It has a huge dent in it, but the guy seems okay. I know the Rule of Cool should probably negate logic in this instance, but I have to wonder if cavemen in the Marvel Universe are supposed to be OP. They're about the size of a modern 10-year-old child. Granted, these are warriors and average civilians in the subway could be taken unawares. Being able to get the jump on trained police officers, who have guns, tasers, mace, and a night stick is a bit more implausible, but still within the realm of possibility. Being able to walk away from having a car thrown on top of you is really where I ought to draw the line.
|The car didn't even knock off his hat, let alone hurt him.|
Of course, where there is a car crashing down from above, a T-Rex can't be far behind (add that to sentences that I don't think I would have ever said), and what ensues is a positively fun "hot potato" fight sequence, of who's got the Nightstone. It ventures on positively Rube Goldbergian territory, with Lunella using a spring loaded device in her back pack to pounce on one caveman, and later one big swing of Devil Dinosaur's tail launches another caveman into the air to snatch the macguffin back from Lunella.
Ultimately, however, the Killer Folk escape with the Nightstone, and Lunella is none too pleased. And she blames Devil Dinosaur completely. I think it's an understatement to say she didn't handle it well. I'm still at a loss for why she comes across so unpleasantly in these sorts of moments because she's a nine -year-old and children are awful or if this utter deficit of basic empathy is a singularly defining character trait for her.
I appreciate the fact that they've definitely made an effort to establish this prickly temper part of her personality. It does a great job of demonstrating that she's not just a girl who is misunderstood. For as much crap as people give her, she does have some blatant personality flaws. She's got some growing up to do.
Once she has finally made her way back to the Lafayette household, her parents replay the news story about the incident in her school yard. They are none to please with what happened to her today, despite the fact that she got home in time for supper without so much as a scraped knee. Parents, amirite? They're solution to their daughter getting kidnapped by giant red T-Rexes is to forbid her from doing extra curricular science projects. Yeah, attempting to limit your child's intellectual growth-- that'll teach her not to get attacked by cavemen.
Where to begin...?
On the one hand, I'm puzzled that they honestly treat this like something she had any control over. Granted, she's little miss science, but from what we've seen of her practical applications, they mostly take the form of gadgets: sneakers with button activated roller skates, remote control snitches, and the aforementioned backpack. Blaming her for bringing a dinosaur into the present and that is ran off with her in its mouth seems like a quantum leap in her ostensible capabilities... as well as victim blaming.
On the second hand, A DINOSAUR FROM THE DAWN OF TIME RAN OFF WITH THEIR DAUGHTER TODAY. Please take a moment to note the lack of relief at her safe return. Yeah, I'm starting to see where little miss personality gets it from.
|Air quotes are the new|
resting bitch face.
The next day at school, her teacher continues to demonstrate some pretty dubious efforts to relate to special and/or gifted children. She has had exactly two scenes in this series thus far and both have been defined by being condescending and abrasive towards Lunella. Okay, teachers aren't prone to appreciating a student who doesn't pay attention in class. However, the fact that she keeps singling Lunella out with a fair sense of intentionality belies some personal issues that probably ought to be addressed in counselling.
Those quotation fingers are the proverbial cherry on this insult sundae. This woman seems to make a point of taking every opportunity to infantilize Lunella. Is this this petty self-esteem issues at work or something more sinister?
|Actually, these guys are a lot more personable.|
Something tells me this woman only got a teaching degree to pay the bills as a backup until she got hired by a scientific research firm, but has been stuck in front of a classroom longer than she cares to acknowledge, the chances that she is going to make tenure are looking bleaker every day, and so now she's basically in a "fuck it" state of mind and is using her relative power to troll the only person in the room smarter than her.
Asking to be excused, Lunella goes to the girl's lavatory, where she is reminded that her peers are pretty much just as awful. Even without the relative authority of an educator, they manage to be toxic towards her by leveraging their communal social clout over her.
The girls in the bathroom are doing something involving a lit match and a roll of newspaper. Are they lighting a joint? Making a stink bomb? I find it odd that they're using match sticks when you can get a Bic lighter at any convenience store. It makes me think that this is something that would be illicit of an elementary school student and thus really out of my frame of knowledge.
|Well, that's one way to get them to laugh with and not at you.|
... Or maybe the other way around?
Of course, this is no concern to Lunella (or is it? nothing about her inner monologue would imply that she even cares about engaging with her peers-- and yet she makes the attempt. Hm...). Instead she goes into one of the stalls and climbs into an air vent... with the lit match visible right next to toilet paper strewn on the floor.
Lunella comes out in her secret lab beneath the school. It tells you something in a story with cavemen and dinosaurs, and the looming fear of a cloud that turns you into a super-powered being, that this is what finally breaks this books already tenuous suspension of disbelief.
|Can we just file this under "kids' clubhouse wish fulfillment?"|
Not only does she have a secret lab in the (sub)basement of her elementary school filled with equipment that she couldn't have possibly snuck down there without someone noticing (how a 90 lb soaking wet girl managed to get it down there is also up for question, but I'm sure the creators will say she used a hover boards or some sort of comic book science), and that she even managed to hide a freaking T-Rex in there. Devil Dinosaur could not have possibly managed the height clearance needed to get into the main doors, let alone getting down into the basement. Back when I was in school, I think I might have gotten away with sneaking something ridiculous into the school, if I so chose, but contemporary schools are Fort Knox compared to what my generation grew up with, in terms of security.
But in its defense, reality is no excuse for fiction. This is a comic, an urban fantasy. And hoo boy is this place a fantasy. If I were a fourth grader, I would be over the moon to have a secret hangout like this.
Lunella is rambling on to her mute conversation companion, reiterating her objectives and concerns about her Inhuman genetics, and she manages to be both grating and endearing at the same time. Like most kids, she manages to balance being endearing and a horrible id monster.
Devil Dinosaur is distracted by a distinct smell, however. Up in the school, for some questionable reason, Montclare and Reeder chose to confuse me by cutting to a panel back in the class room where Lunella's teacher, who looks like a flat out mad scientist (more evidence to support my "she's secretly a villian" theory) as she shows the students a lit Bunsen burner. It feels like a proposed false lead that even the creators didn't feel like pursuing after one panel.
|That is the face of an evil schemer.|
|"Squawk! It's a living"|
Lunella comes up through a sewer manhole cover that she should not be able to lift by any stretch of the imagination and she tries to assess the situation until her new friend bursts onto the scene, literally bursting up through the street, causing a lot of property damage, as any self-respecting time-displaced dinosaur is wont to do. Lunella gets him to use his head back and tail to act as an emergency slide to get her classmates to safety.
|This kid gets it.|
Just when all is said and done, the class rescued, and Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaurs are the heroes of the day, instead of a cheers and thanks, we are treated to a cameo from a character who confuses our favorite red-hued theropod for a bad guy. Because it wouldn't be a Marvel crossover unless the heroes fight first and bond later. Enter: Amadeus Cho, the Totally Awesome Hulk. Of course, Lunella being Lunella, she instantly assumes he's an idiot. Okay, as horrible as she is as a child, imagine how well prepared she's going to be for deflecting unwanted advances when she gets into her teen years.
|Aw yeah! Next Issue: Me fangirling over Amadeus Cho.|
This book is ridiculous and it charms the pants off me. I've said different variations on that for the past three issues, and I'm worried I'm starting to sound like a broken record.
For the next few weeks, I'm going to be doing something a little different. After all, we have officially arrived both at my favorite time of the year as well as my least favorite part of my country's four-year election cycle. I've got some ideas on how to tackle both these, but you'll have to wait and see...