Warning! Spoilers ahead for Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur (2022) #1Even though she’s one of the smartest characters in the Marvel Universe, Moon Girl was recently forced to learn a lesson about the relationship between people of color and the police in modern America. Marvel Comics has never shied away from exploring modern cultural trends, politics, and social issues throughout its history. “Super” as they may be, Marvel’s heroes have never been above the very real human issues that regular people face every day. Even 9-year-old Lunella Lafayette, better known as the hero Moon Girl, recently found herself being taught an important lesson about the world around her.
At the conclusion of a series of one-shot team-ups throughout 2022, Lunella’s identity as the young hero protecting Yancy Street in New York’s Lower East Side was revealed to her parents. Her parents, James and Adria Lafayette, understandably have concerns about the fact their elementary age daughter has been moonlighting as a superhero outside of class. Their worries, however, extend beyond the inherit dangers of Lunella’s battles with supervillains and the fact her partner is a twenty-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus rex.
Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur (2022) #1 from Jordan Ifueko and Alba Glez picks up with Moon Girl in a precarious position in her life: while she’s been re-united with Devil Dinosaur following his abduction, it has come at the price of revealing her identity to her parents. More troubling, during the events of Devil’s Reign by Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto, superhero vigilantism remains illegal in New York City following a decree from former mayor, Wilson Fisk. Lunella laments she hid her identity as Moon Girl from her parents out of fear that they would try to protect her or possibly go to the police. Her father agrees that as parents it is their job to protect their daughter, he’s clear they’ll never involve the police: “We’d never trust the cops to protect a black girl with abilities like yours – let alone our daughter.“
Moon Girl’s Parents Don’t Trust The Police To Protect Her
Moon Girl’s conversation with her parents comes after a resurgence of protests in America sparked by high-profile incidents of police brutality, often against Black Americans. While not monolithic, research and polling data indicates that Moon Girl’s family are far from alone in how they view police. Per a Marist Poll conducted in June 2020, roughly two-thirds of Black Americans at the time generally distrusted police to treat them fairly and equally, a stark contrast to over half the general American population believing police will treat people equally. Per Gallup a year later, while Black Americans’ trust in policing has rebounded to historic numbers, it remains significantly lower than the rest of America. The Lafayettes’ attitude is reflective of millions of modern Americans, their distrust further galvanized by Mayor Fisk’s efforts to put a legal target on the back of superheroes.
Marvel Has a Long History of Exploring Social Issues
This isn’t the first time Marvel has addressed modern social issues in its pages, nor the first it has broached the subject of policing. In Punisher #13 (2018) by Matthew Rosenberg and Szymon Kudranski, the Punisher encounters a pair of police officers who idolize him. Mortified, Frank Castle reminds them they’re supposed to work within the law: if they don’t, he’ll come for them next. The 2006 Immortal Iron Fist series from Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction cast its hero in a new light, delving into the topics of colonialism and Danny Rand’s own privilege. The most famous example, however, is undoubtedly the X-Men. Composed of mutant superheroes born innately different, the X-Men have long served a stand-in for those fighting oppression and discrimination. Created by Stan Lee and Jacky Kirby in 1963, the X-Men have drawn comparisons to the Civil Rights movement, with the robotic Sentinels a literal manifestation of violence imposed by those that hate and fear the mutants.
In this new chapter helmed by writer Jordan Ifueko, Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur joins Marvel’s long heritage of exploring societal issues in the real world. As Lunella Lafeyette endeavors to secretly continue operating as Moon Girl, it remains to be seen if the series will explore this topic further.
Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur (2022) #1 is on sale now from Marvel Comics