Every 10 years, Marvel tries to find a new Spider-Man--a ground-level hero who resonates with your average comic reader whilst engaging those who might've never read their adventures before. In 2013, Marvel found their new Peter Parker with Kamala Khan in Ms. Marvel. No one could've guessed that just a few years later the House of Ideas would manage to bottle lightning once again with a reimagining of an old Jack Kirby character who'd only existed for nine issues in the '70s.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur was that book, put together by the creative team of Natacha Bustos, Brandon Montclare, and Amy Reeder. The comic introduced us to the charming, cute, and dynamic Lunella Lafayette--who also happens to be the smartest person on Earth--and her giant pink sidekick, Devil Dinosaur. With Marvel's Legacy relaunch around the corner, we sat down with Brandon and Natacha to talk about creating Lunella and the responsibility of reintroducing some of Marvel's most famous family!
From the offset, the creative team was totally committed to their story and characters, with all of them deeply involved in the conception of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. As Brandon Montclare explained to Nerdist, "When the creative team started to gel with Amy Reeder and Natacha Bustos and myself, and later Tamra Bonvillain and Travis Lanham, I knew the comic was really good. And when you have that, you certainly hope it will be successful. But elbowing for room next to Iron Man, Captain America, X-Men, Ms. Marvel--it's daunting. But Marvel put all their strength behind Lunella Lafayette. They were as enthusiastic and as hard-working as the creators to get people to give Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur a chance."
Bustos agreed with her collaborator, adding that fans have had a huge part in the book's success. "Since the beginning, the whole team has been deeply involved in this comic because we knew it would be special," she said. "Now we have a fan base that unconditionally supports the book, and we receive a lot of samples of their affection through social networks and in their numerous fan mail letters. That’s great. It encourages us a lot."
The world of Lunella Lafayette is as bright, beautiful, and fun as the character herself, something driven by Spanish illustrator Bustos. "I found it easy to create the visual world of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur because these kinds of science fiction stories that take you to other worlds are always very funny and I'm grateful to get the chance to draw them," she said. "Tamra Bonvillain [the book's colorist] is having a good time too, and you can see it in the incredible color palette she has created in the scenes of outer space."
Montclare was just as effusive in his praise of his collaborator, saying, "Natacha always knocks my socks off. She's the driving creative force on this book."
Montclare, Bustos, and Reeder have a mammoth task on their hands with their upcoming Legacy title, as they're reintroducing some of Marvel's most iconic characters. We'll see Lunella teaming up with none other than the Human Torch and Ben Grimm! For Bustos it was a huge privilege to bring Kirby's classic creations to life. "It's inspiring," she said. "The characters of Kirby are amazing, I feel very honored to draw them. Ray-Anthony Height did a great job introducing The Thing in issue 14 and I hope to do it as cool as him."
For Montclare it was a story that made a lot of sense, as Lunella was someone who'd always had a deep affinity for King Kirby himself. "I always tried to connect Lunella Lafayette to Kirby himself," he explained. "And I like to think of The Thing as the closest thing to Jack in the comics. It isn't an accident that Lunella lives on Yancy Street, the home of Ben Grimm and the fictionalized neighborhood where Kirby was a kid. And then she has a strong tie to Mr. Fantastic, with Reed Richards passing the torch of Smartest There Is. So getting to tell a story that pulls her closer to the Fantastic Four--in the story but also spiritually--is going to be fun."
With this book returning Moon Girl back to Earth, "The Fantastic Three" will be an exploration of how Lunella's local community deals with the cosmic power of the Silver Surfer, Galactus, and some other surprise additions. But with the return of Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm, what we really want to know is: Could this Fantastic Three be the beginning of a return of a very familiar Four?
Montclare wouldn't share too much but did leave us with this exciting tease: "I don't want to spoil what we're building in the current 'Girl-Moon' arc. But Moon Girl, like The Thing and Human Torch, are longing for a complete family. And the three of them, now together, maybe don't quite get there. But who--if anyone--could possibly make four?"
Have you already discovered the magic of Lunella Lafayette? Will you be checking out the Legacy issue of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur? Let us know in the comments!