Moon Girl Review

By | Monday, February 20, 2023 Leave a Comment
The Disney Channel apparently started releasing their new Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur series on February 10, with it showing up on Disney+ several days later. I say "apparently" because I've seen very little in the way of promotion for it. Despite logging into Disney+ almost daily, I only realized it was available after someone else mentioned it in my Mastodon feed. Weirdly, I watched all of the first six episodes on Disney+ by last Wednesay, but the Wikipedia article on the show says the episodes 3 and 4 weren't released until this past weekend with 5 and 6 not dropping until next weekend.

I had read some of the Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur comics a few years ago (I thought I had mentioned them on my blog here, but I can't seem to find that, so maybe I never did) and I honestly didn't really care for them. They weren't bad necessarily, but I didn't find them engaging at all and any of the guest stars that cropped up seemed to be written only vaguely in-character. So it's possible that whatever promotions Disney had been doing for the show was in a kind of self-imposed blind spot for me. But for however much I didn't care for the comics, I feel the show is doing an oppositely fantastic job with with the characters and stories.

The premise, if you're unfamiliar, is that Lunella is a super-smart genius girl that accidentally creates a dimensional portal which Devil Dinosaur pops through. The two quickly bond and, because the Avengers never come to the Lower East Side, Lunella adopts the Moon Girl indentity and, with Devil, fights for the safety and justice of and for her community. While some of her adversaries are existing threats from Marvel continuity -- from compartively minor threats live Devos the Devastator to enormous ones like the Beyonder -- many have been created for the show, and reflect its more overtly light-hearted nature. A chess-playing computer called LOS-307 ("Los Bot") and Mane, Lunella's hair that had fallen out and gained sentience, for examples. In terms of tone, it's very reminiscent of other modern cartoons along the lines of Craig of the Creek or Big City Greens but the visual style is much closer to Into the Spider-Verse. However, Moon Girl doesn't feel redundant or repetitive in the wake of those; it still maintains its own voice. Largely, I think, from involvement of Lunella's family: her two parents and two grandparents. While other shows certainly have strong familial elements to them, Moon Girl's focus is a little more squarely on the Black family experience. The villain Mane that I mentioned, for example, comes expressly as part of an extended discussion on Black hair -- not a topic I've really seen tackled in any other cartoon.

My understanding is that the writers and directors are all women of color, and they'd been expressly asked to lean into their own experiences in making the show. This is probably how we got Lunella's best friend being of Puerto Rican descent with two gay fathers. And that's why the show stands out against something like Craig of the Creek; they're leveraging their authentic voices to tell more authentic stories. Couple that with the good production values the show has, and you've got a winner that I was frankly not expecting.

Given the lack of promotion, the seemingly confused roll-out, and their own website not even mentioning the release schedule, I can't help but wonder if there's an effort to undermine the show's potential success right from launch. Whether that's a deliberate move because someone there really hates producer Laurence Fishburne or if it's just a casual racism thing where it's being dismissed as "a Black show" and the marketing folks just aren't bothering to put any effort in or something else, I don't know. But for as much effort went into promoting, say, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (if you want to stick with Marvel properties) or The Bad Batch (if you'd prefer to stay with Disney-owned cartoons), there's clearly a decidedly lower amount of effort being put against plugging Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur by comparison. Which is a shame because it's a damn fine show, and very worthy of your attention, even if you haven't liked the characters from the comics.
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