The first eleven episodes of Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur were watched for review. They are currently available for streaming on Disney+. This review may contain mild spoilers.

The animated adaptation of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is a high-octane delight that fires on all cylinders. Whether you are a fan of Marvel Comics, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, animation or just great storytelling, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur has something for you.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur‘s story follows genius 13-year-old Lunella Lafayette and her superheroic adventures defending the Lower East Side (LES) alongside her partner, Devil Dinosaur. Here’s why you should check out this unique and outstanding animated series.

The Cast

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur boasts a stacked deck of voice talent, both in terms of the main cast and the guest stars. Diamond White as Lunella Lafayette anchors the series. Not only is this the biggest role of the show, but it also involves singing the incredibly catchy theme song.

Fred Tatasciore plays the role of her co-star, Devil Dinosaur. The experienced voice artist easily turns the guttural growls of Lunella’s prehistoric partner into auditory gold. And Libe Barer plays Casey Calderon, Lunella’s best human friend. As the only person who knows Lunella is Moon Girl, Casey also serves as the superhero’s social media manager.

RELATED: Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur First Look and Guest Cast.

Rounding out the main cast is executive producer Lawrence Fishburne as The Beyonder. In addition to playing a direct role in at least one episode, The Beyonder also serves as an omniscient narrator. When a new character shows up, a breakaway scene narrated by the cosmic entity will fill in the blanks for the viewer. As anyone who has watched The Matrix is aware, Fishburne is ideal for this expositional role. 

Sasheer Zamata as Adira, Jermaine Fowler as James Jr., Diamond White as Lunella, Gary Anthony Williams as Pops, and Alfre Woodard as Mimi. They are celebrating on a stoop.

Lunella’s family.

Meanwhile, Lunella’s family plays an integral supporting role in the young superhero’s stories. This includes the always-excellent Alfre Woodard, who plays Lunella’s grandmother Mimi. Sasheer Zamata plays Lunella’s mother Adira, Jermaine Fowler plays Lunella’s father James Jr., and Gary Anthony Williams plays her grandfather Pops. Over the course of the series so far, a lot of time is spent with the Lafayette family, which is a delight.

The guest stars are also excellent, beginning with Alison Brie as Aftershock in the show’s first episode. And Trekkies take note: Tatasciore and Woodard are far from the only Star Trek alum in the cast. Also appearing are Wilson Cruz, Ian Alexander, Kari Wahlgren, Daveed Diggs, June Diane Raphael, Paul Scheer, and even real-life astronaut Mae Jemison.

The Music

Libe Barer as Casey Calderon and Diamond White as Lunella Lafayette. They are smiling and pointing at one another.

I thought you knew!

The series features music by Raphael Saadiq, with many songs that are performed by the cast. As mentioned above, White performs “Moon Girl Magic,” the show’s theme song. Another song is performed by Diggs in the episode in which he guest stars. A further standout number is performed by Fishburne to fully introduce his character, The Beyonder.

RELATED: Magical Mystery Trek: 11 Star Trek Musical Moments.

Episode after episode features a climactic scene based on music. Furthermore, these songs draw from a variety of genres, reflecting the characters and thematic content in singular and engaging ways. This may not be a full-fledged musical, but it’s close, and that’s something to celebrate.

The Comics

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur characters are not carbon copies of their comic book counterparts. This isn’t a problem at all; in fact, it is one of the show’s strengths. Unencumbered by the responsibility of perfectly replicating the source material, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is free to adapt itself to its new medium.

However, the series is still filled with references and Easter eggs that celebrate the source material. Here’s one example: in the 2015 run of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur that debuted Lunella and brought Jack Kirby’s Devil Dinosaur into the modern era, the eponymous duo share a psychic link that causes them to switch minds. This is referenced in the episode “Goodnight, Moon Girl.” However, in the show, the brain swap occurs because of a device invented by Lunella. In the comics, it transpires because Lunella is Inhuman.

Diamond White as Lunella Lafayette.

Lunella is the smartest there is.

Another example is the way we learn that Lunella is the smartest person on Earth. In the comics, it happens because she solves a puzzle designed by Doctor Bruce Banner. But in the show, the all-knowing The Beyonder reveals it. Differences like these retain the spirit of the source material. Further, they fit well into the animated world Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur has crafted for itself adjacent to the respective continuities of Marvel Comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

RELATED: What to know about Ms. Marvel.

The many Easter eggs included in the show will delight fans of Marvel. My favorites include a “Battleworld” comic shop and an outstanding visual gag featuring Lunella in homage to The Uncanny X-Men #141’s seminal cover by John Byrne and Terry Austin. And speaking of Easter eggs, there are also multiple references to The Matrix in these episodes.

The Animation

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur’s energetic animation builds its own tone. This is distinct from the aesthetic of her comic book appearances. However, the comic book inspiration for the aesthetic is clear, including in the way sound effects and dialogue are sometimes underscored with on-screen typography (or emoji). 

Fred Tatasciore as Devil Dinosaur and Diamond White as Lunella Lafayette in Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur.

Visualizing…

This technique is used in a variety of innovative ways. My personal favorite was from “Check Yourself.” When LOS-307 (Asia Kate Dillon) and Lunella exchange pronouns, “They/Them” and “She/Her” appear in the air beside the respective characters.

RELATED: Podcast review – Marvel’s Squirrel Girl: The Unbeatable Radio Show.

Another nice animated flourish is the interstitial buffers, which are included even if you’re streaming the show sans commercials. The abstract imagery and sublime music provide a welcome rhythm to each episode.

The Themes

But perhaps where Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur succeeds best is in its smart exploration of themes that reflect the world outside your window. One of the central and recurring themes addressed by these episodes is the gentrification of the LES, where Lunella and her family live. 

This theme is addressed in the first episode when Aftershock attempts to appropriate the electricity of the LES for her own selfish ends. It recurs in episode eleven, “Like Mother, Like Moon Girl,” this time through the Muzzlers (Raphael and Scheer). This affluent white couple attempts to use technology to silence the voices of the LES residents. 

RELATED: Podcast spoiler review – Marvel’s Squirrel GIrl: The Unbeatable Radio Show.

Another episode, “Teacher’s Pet,” examines the consequences of rejecting a potential member of one’s community based on personal insecurities. This is dramatized through Devil’s rejection of Angel the class hamster. As a result, Angel ends up running afoul of the Rat King (Diggs). This aptly-named supervillain commands an army of rodents, an embodiment of the dark potential of an unfulfilled need for belonging.

Diamond White as Lunella Lafayette and Fred Tatasciore as Devil Dinosaur in Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Moon Girl is striking a pose in the foreground. She is surrounded by a crowd. They are in the park.

Lunella Lafayette’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Other themes include navigating social media, mindfulness during family time, and the importance of community and friendship. The universal nature of these ideas means that, no matter what direction you approach Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur from, you’ll find something there to dig into.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

Young or old, Marvel fan or music enthusiast, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur will meet you where you’re at. Fortunately, this irresistible series has already been renewed for a second season. Catch up with it today!

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is available to stream on Disney+.

This review was originally published on 3/23/23.

NYCC 2022: MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR Scores Second Season

Avery Kaplan