You can read Moon Girl in print form or download it at ComiXology.
Just about the most dubious thing that can be uttered in a movie trailer are the words “From the studio that brought you [insert name of beloved film here].” Anyone with a modicum of discernment knows that it is chiefly directors, actors, and screenwriters, not studios, that serve as reliable predictors for the quality of a production. Suggestions to the contrary are usually veiled attempts to cover up the fact that the movie being advertised simply isn’t very good.
On that note, I should mention that Moon Girl comes from the same company who publishes Atomic Robo, which happens to be a very good comic.
To be fair to the book’s creators and promoters, though, they don’t really seem to be trying to hoodwink anyone by riding Robo’s coattails. Having debuted originally in 2010 as a comiXology digital series, Moon Girl’s content was already firm in place by the time the folks at Red 5 ever put it to print. If anything, it was my own overeager mind that misled itself into believing that, based on publisher reputation alone, I was about to stumble into the next great hidden gem.
The actual ad copy for Moon Girl makes its own bold claim, though, one that should have been equally suspect. “Mad Men meets The Dark Knight” it boasts, seeking to ally itself with beloved paragons of screens both big and small. In the midst of such an absurdly lofty comparison, it is possible to see where the tagline gets its angle, even if it is based upon the merest of surface details.
A period piece set in the New York City of 1955 (within a half-decade of Mad Men Season 1, I suppose), Moon Girl is the odd story of an Eastern European princess who immigrates to the United States in search of a new life as a moon rock-powered vigilante. The conflicts she finds there all reek of deeper meaning, the product of the creators’ earnest desire to follow in the classic superhero tradition of grand scale metaphor.
For instance, Moon Girl wishes to throw off the guilt and shame of her gilded past, so her chief adversary becomes a fellow refugee from the motherland who strives to pull her back into a life of monarchical privilege. When the heroine makes it her goal to inspire the public to greatness, her rogues gallery ends up being populated with overzealous followers who twist her message into one of mayhem and murder.
It is in these metaphoric bits that Moon Girl’s scripters seek to astonish, begging you to interpret this comic as a parable of personal sovereignty. Every encounter with the book’s villains comes paired with an extended monologue about ruling elites and the working class, freedom and subservience, or consumerism and the pacification of the masses. It’s all well-intentioned, but a weakly established setting and underdeveloped characterization leave it without firm allegorical footing. Unanchored to story, these ideas are mere fodder for a freshman college term paper.
Public reaction to Moon Girl’s exploits is set up to be an important part of the story, but too little of it is actually shown to make it feel genuine. In the rare moments that the characters take a break from their roles as sociopolitical ciphers, their dialogue is dull and unimaginative. Worst among the offenders are the exchanges between Moon Girl in her civilian identity and a hottie doctor she has a crush on, the spoken lines of which are too embarrassing to repeat here.
Visually, Moon Girl exhibits a style that suits the nostalgia of its setting, but it’s also one that isn’t particularly attractive. Artist The Rahzzah takes a cue from the world of pulp magazine covers, filling these pages with airbrushed characters who strike sensational poses. Like the ten-cent magazines that inspired such a look, the finished product comes across as looking rather cheap, especially when it goes for a photorealism that just isn’t there.
With a greater influx of talent, Moon Girl might have made all these elements come together as a potent and entertaining read. As it stands, the book’s overemphasis of subtext at the expense of the actual text reduce the finished product to a missed opportunity at best.
Raised on a steady diet of Super Powers action figures and Adam West Batman reruns, Chris Kiser now writes for Comics Bulletin. He’s currently in the midst of reading and reviewing every tie-in to a major DC Comics summer event and regretting every second of it.