Looking back at the Super Heroes who have advocated for public health awareness!

Do you like healthy life practices, low-key dinosaur hot dog heists, and Super Villains composed entirely out of bees? Then you, dear reader, have come to the right place!

This Wednesday, June 6, Lunella Lafayette and her best pal Devil Dinosaur go on a special mission to fight the real-world threat of smoking and addiction in Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, and Ray-Anthony Height‘s delightful MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #31!

Now, Lunella isn’t the only hero to have tackled the difficult subjects of smoking and addiction; on the contrary, Marvel heroes have a long history of awareness campaigns and health advocacy—and some of them have been downright revolutionary. So, in celebration of Moon Girl’s fresh take on the issue, we decided to look back at some of Marvel’s most memorable stories about addiction, public health, and wellness.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #96#98

The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #98

The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #98

  • Published: July 10, 1971
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Gil Kane
  • Cover Artist: Gil Kane
What is Marvel Unlimited?

This early ’70s Spidey story, the wallcrawler tackled the concept of drug use and addiction. At this period in time, the Comics Code Authority was a highly influential regulatory body in the industry. If a comic’s content broke any of the CCA’s exacting rules and regulations, the Authority would withdraw their valuable seal of approval.

That’s why it was such a big deal when Marvel decided to run three issues of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN against the wishes of the CCA, who had banned all depictions of drug use, but the creative team decided to do this arc after working with the U.S. Department of Health to promote awareness about the problem. The story saw Spider-Man taking on a group of drug lords in what would turn out to be a landmark moment for the medium.

DAREDEVIL #179

Daredevil (1964) #179

Daredevil (1964) #179

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Matt Murdock was the next hero to take a stand on the subject. In this 1982 issue, journalist Ben Ulrich was warned to stop smoking cigarettes because they were dangerous to his health. At one point Ulrich even ominously exclaimed, “Lousy cigarettes. They’ll be the death of me,” before his smoker’s cough alerted a villain to his hiding place, resulting in his death.

While this was more of a subtle anti-smoking PSA, this issue marked another step in taking on the real-world villain of substance abuse.

SPIDER-MAN, STORM AND POWER MAN

Spurred on by the success of the DAREDEVIL issue released earlier that year, there was a desire to go further with an anti-smoking message…and who better to showcase that message than the one who started it all a decade earlier: Spider-Man! With the support of the American Cancer Society, SPIDER-MAN, STORM AND POWER MAN–BATTLE SMOKESCREEN was released.

The story followed track star Bret Jackson, who started skipping training in favor of getting hooked on cigarettes and hanging out at a seedy club. This fall from grace was orchestrated by a villain named Smokescreen, who wanted to sabotage the runner in an attempt to win a bet on Bret’s race. Luckily, his plan was foiled by Spidey, Storm, and Power Man, who confronted Bret on the dangers of smoking (including its connections to cancer).

CAPTAIN AMERICA GOES TO WAR AGAINST DRUGS

The next big moment in Marvel’s awareness activity was led by Captain America himself. This 1990 two-part story started out as a pretty standard deal: a kid named Keith told Cap about his friend Mitch, who recently used drugs before accidentally hitting someone with a baseball while incapacitated.

This incident proved to be just the wake-up call Mitch needed. He stopped using drugs before finding out that the dealer he got them from was an alien attempting to see just how conquerable Earthlings might be. Steve Rogers aided in the fight, but ultimately Mitch redeemed himself to take down the alien threat and overcome the dangers of drugs.

SPIDER-MAN, STORM AND POWER MAN…Again!

Spider-Man fought Smokescreen several more times in various reprints of the original issue, but 16 years after their first foray, the story received updated interiors. Using the same plot as the first, the story was refreshed with new art for a new era in this vital retelling of a classic awareness issue; David Tata, Norman Lee, and Chris Dickey teamed up to present the heroes with their updated costumes in iconic ’90s style.

This version, like the previous one, would go on to be reprinted several more times throughout the years as the heroes of their Marvel Universe brought their power and influence to the fight against smoking and addiction. 

Join Lunella Lafayette and the best dino in the Universe for MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #31, available on June 6!

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Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder tell TWIM about a big issue being tackled by Lunella Lafayette!

This Week in Marvel has something for everyone! Ryan and Jamie not only bring you their picks of the week, but because it’s a very special release week, we have LOTS of Spidey talk! If you haven’t already read AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #800, you can get an in-depth run-down on this week’s podcast. Plus, TWIM celebrates the 40th anniversary of Japan’s “Spider-Man” series — we may have included its amazing theme song, too! (You’ll have to listen to find out!)

That’s not all! This Week in Marvel also welcomed the creators of MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR, Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder, who wrote a special issue to recognize World No Tobacco Day. In MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #31, Lunella is faced with her whole neighborhood suddenly becoming addicted to cigarettes. But the enemy is a lot more insidious than peer pressure! Tune in to TWIM to hear more about the story — and the mission behind the story!

You can listen to the whole episode here:

Subscribe to This Week in Marvel on Apple Podcasts or download the episode from Marvel.com/podcasts!

With new episodes every Friday, This Week in Marvel delivers all the latest Marvel discussion and news about comics, TV, movies, games, toys, and beyond! Tweet your questions and comments about the show to @AgentM@jamiefrevele, or @Marvel with the hashtag #ThisWeekinMarvel!

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The making of the mixed media cover by Natacha Bustos!

Few things grab your attention like a comic book cover that looks different from the rest. That was just part of the thinking behind the upcoming cover of MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #32, the beginning of a new arc by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder. Lunella Lafayette and her community are going to be facing a problem that’s very familiar to the real world: the closing of her public school by Mayor Fisk. And a story that has roots in the real world deserves a cover that includes the real world too!

Series editor Chris Robinson let us in on how the Marvel team came up with covers that go beyond just art and put characters in real-life New York City. With the intention of putting out a series that looked “fresh” and different, Robinson worked with the MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR creative team plus cover artist Natacha Bustos and photographers Rachel Orlow and Judy Stephens to combine photography with comic illustration. He noted that the “Save Our School” storyline hits so close to home in New York City — so why not feature the real New York City on the covers? The process included a bit more logistics than a typical cover would, but it resulted in a series of standout covers that join the ranks of other innovative Marvel Comics covers that featured photography.

We gave you a sneak peek at a preview gallery of the mixed media covers — one featuring This Week in Marvel host Ryan Penagos! MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #32 will feature Mayor Fisk and his daughter, new character Princess Fisk, on the cover, looking like they’re ready to cause a hefty amount of trouble for Lunella, DD, and New York City.

Watch the video for a closer look at the process behind the cover!

MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #32 will be available on June 27! Be sure to pre-order your copy with your your local comic book store!

 

 

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'Marvel's Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur' is currently in development.

If this past weekend’s release of Marvel Studios “Black Panther” has taught us anything, it’s that brilliant young girls run the world. Lunella Lafayette, it’s time for you to take center stage!

Marvel TV today revealed that “Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” (working title) is in development. Based on the hit comic book series, the animated project follows the adventures of nine-year-old super-genius Lunella Lafayette, an African-America girl who teams up with her crimson-colored dinosaur and uses her smarts to save the day. Lunella, A.K.A. Moon Girl, was created by Brandon MontclareAmy Reeder, and Natacha Bustos (and colored by Tamra Bonvillain) in 2015—and the world’s smartest person hasn’t looked back since!

“Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur” is being produced by Marvel Animation and Cinema Gypsy Productions (Laurence Fishburne and Helen Sugland, producers of “black-ish” and “grown-ish”) with visual and animation development services by Titmouse, Inc. The animated project is in consideration for a Disney Channels Worldwide series.

Want to know more about the smartest there is in the Marvel Universe, head over to Marvel Unlimited or stop by your local comic shop and read the source material!  

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (2015) #1

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (2015) #1

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Kate Leth, Amy Reeder, and Kelly Thompson speak out on several subjects!

We continue this month’s celebration of Women’s History with a roundtable discussion consisting of some of Marvel Comics’ most talented creators: Kate Leth (PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT!), Amy Reeder (MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR), and Kelly Thompson (HAWKEYE). We wanted speak with these creators not only to know who influenced their work but also to get an idea as to how and where they see women affecting the industry as a whole.

Marvel.com: To kick things off, I’m curious who you think are the most significant female super heroes in the Marvel Universe and why?

Kate Leth: I think that right now, Ms. Marvel, Squirrel Girl, and America Chavez are probably the most influential, at least to the women I know. I have personal favorites, of course—She-Hulk tops the list—but I think each of those three and their respective titles—including YOUNG AVENGERS—have really pushed Marvel in a new and better direction. None of them are cookie-cutter bombshells or plot devices; they’re all fully-realized and reflective of the real world.

Amy Reeder: Historically, I’d say Storm is pretty significant; talk to any random person on the street and they’ll know who Storm is. And that’s not nothing! Something about her has clearly made a lasting impression on the world, and I’m not sure if that’s her amazing design, cool powers, or just general command of presence. I would love for her to come more to the forefront than she already is. She is a true leader.

On a current note, I’d say Ms. Marvel has kicked off a whole new era of comics at Marvel, that is focusing both on the importance of representation, and the originality of story and art. It feels like we’re experiencing a renaissance.

Kelly Thompson: I think Captain Marvel is undoubtedly one of the most important characters out there for Marvel and with good reason. Storm, She-Hulk, and Black Widow are also super iconic and powerful to me. I also think some of the more atypical super hero cult favorites like Jessica Jones and Nico Minoru of Runaways, especially with TV shows—or upcoming TV shows—have the potential to leap to the front of the line. One thing I love about all of those I just listed is the variety; there’s no type there, they’re all very different characters the same way Wolverine and Spider-Man are different and that’s both important and a big change we’ve been seeing in the last five to ten years; enough female roles to see some real variety in the characters. In the end though, I think it’s impossible to understate the importance of Kamala Khan/Ms. Marvel. The impact of that character is massive. She’s a game changer, and I hope it’s a permanent change.

Marvel.com: Of course, you are all currently working on female-led titles for Marvel. I recognize it’s difficult to look at your work from a historical perspective since you are in the moment as we speak. All the same, how do you think your respective titles are affecting the shape and creative direction of the Marvel Universe?

Kate Leth: I hope HELLCAT is picked up again in years to come by people who realize just how queer it is. Not just in its characters, but its sensibility. I absolutely think straight people can write gay characters, but I think that Brittney and I, who are both queer, made this book something authentic and genuine in between all the puns and crime-fighting. As our book is ending, I look to others to pick up the glittering, rainbow torch. [Laughs]

Amy Reeder: Seeing as I created Moon Girl, it’s hard not to have high hopes on that front; I hope that she will be a solid mainstay in the [Marvel] Universe and our team has been working hard to see that happen. She is currently the smartest person in the Marvel Universe! So, it’ll be interesting to see how long she can hold onto that title. She’s now featured in three video games, and I do truly hope she can find her way into film or television, if only because this would be a great opportunity to have a young black girl hero on the screen. And past that, I hope that the success of our book sets off many more titles that keep representation in mind, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more young characters as well.

Kelly Thompson: I mean, obviously, Kate Bishop should be ruling the world, right? [Laughs] More seriously, I do think you’re right that it’s really hard to know what something you’re doing will mean to people or the market in a year, let alone five or 10 years. I’d love for Kate to not only continue being a fan favorite but to also level up to solid super-star A-list status—she’s obviously well on her way to that; and I hope we’re helping to make that happen, but she’s got a ways to go before she’s a household name like Storm or Captain Marvel or Black Widow.

More broadly I’d love to see more books like HAWKEYE that are allowed to have “smaller” stories. I love a good world ending apocalypse as much as the next guy, but sometimes I want something that stands on its own a bit and feels a little more personal. Those can be tough in this cutthroat market, but I think they’re really important stories, and also happen to be some of the best—and most critically acclaimed—stories we’ve seen in recent years.

Marvel.com: Taking things in a more personal direction, which women in comics have had a significant effect on you as comics creator?

Kate Leth: I would not be in comics if it weren’t for independent creators like Kate Beaton, Jess Fink, and Emily Carroll. That’s where I found my start and inspiration, through women who did it themselves and built a career on their own terms. There are the big names, of course—Kelly Sue [DeConnick] and Gail [Simone] have been incredibly supportive and inspirational to me—but Kate and Jess and Emily gave me the guts to just get out there and make the thing.

Amy Reeder: Ai Yazawa’s Paradise Kiss made a very early and lasting impression on me and how I think comics should be. Sophie Campbell has probably affected me more than anyone else, male or female—her love for creating unique characters echoes her passion for people in general. I’ve learned a lot from [SPIDER-MAN] artist Sara Pichelli—my sketches have gotten more life in them from looking at hers.

Also, MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR artist Natacha Bustos has been blowing me away with her art. I’m floored by her ability to draw all the crazy things we’ve asked for, and at an amazing pace. I’m learning from her how to stop myself from doing too many details, all while making panels look better and with more focus.

Kelly Thompson: Kelly Sue DeConnick. She’s not only written some fantastic and hilarious comics, super hero and otherwise, but she was certainly the driving creative force behind Captain Marvel’s book, and the character becoming a definitive A-lister at Marvel comics. And from where I’m sitting that pushed the needle forward in a really important way, both for Marvel and for female characters and super heroes more broadly. I also think not enough can be said about [editor] Sana Amanat and G. Willow Wilson’s work with MS. MARVEL; that’s some once in a lifetime magic there—a perfect pairing of creators and character. Kathryn Immonen’s WOLVERINE & JUBILEE and her JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY run are so great—wild and creative and fun and unexpected. Gail Simone is obviously a legend, she paved the way for so much, made so many things possible for those of us that have joined her in comics.

And if I start listing artists that have inspired and affected me we will literally be here all day: Becky Cloonan, Fiona Staples, Sophie Campbell, Tula Lotay, Meredith McClaren, Jordie Bellaire, Stephanie Hans, Annie Wu, Brianne Drouhard, Jillian Tamaki, Amanda Conner, Babs Tarr, Pia Guerra—so, so many.

Marvel.com: Which women working in comics today do you think are really pushing the medium and industry forward?

Kate Leth: I’m gonna get real self-serving for a second and say that the Valkyries, the group I founded years ago—that is now nearly-700 members strong and much larger than me—for women working in comics retail, are making a huge difference. As the group’s evolved, members have moved into publishing and creating, but those working on the ground in shops and libraries have made a huge difference. As a unit, they’ve got power, and influence, and their concerns are being listened to. For publishers to see this and realize they need to address it and cater to it is something that didn’t exist five, 10 years ago. That matters!

In terms of creators, I think the biggest change is coming from outside the Big Two. Nobody’s made an impact like Raina Telgemeier or Kate Beaton. I think that indie creators, people making webcomics and graphic novels, are the ones to watch. Spike Trotman, Taneka Stotts—with Sfé Monster—are publishing anthologies that traditional publishers might never have wanted to touch and are seeing huge success. I mention these names quite often, but I honestly think they’re crucial to this industry. While there are lots of indie creators I’d like to see tackle Marvel stories, I’m happy to see them flourish with their own work.

Amy Reeder: Dare I say it: I think most instances of the medium being pushed forward right now is through the work of women. We have women who are making major headway in the book market, like Kate Beaton and Raina Telgemeier. Steven Universe’s Rebecca Sugar has perhaps unintentionally inspired swaths of comics hopefuls with her art style; it’s all I see with art students. Most of the books with buzz surrounding them involve women creators and/or characters.

A lot of the up-and-comers are exciting, too. This gal Hannah Blumenreich recently did a short backup story in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #25, based on her awesome webcomic Spidey Zine. She’s someone to look at. I’m also really excited about this young writer-artist Tillie Walden—she tells stories in a way I never knew I needed, but the fact is, I do.

Kelly Thompson: Anyone that can move the needle like Kelly Sue DeConnick has and sort of permanently change the conversation, is an icon and a legend as far as I’m concerned. We’re all benefiting now from a lot of hard work she put in at Marvel and continues to put in elsewhere. Her creator-owned Bitch Planet, to me, is probably the most important book in comics right now. It also happens to be fantastic. And being both important and legitimately fantastic at the same time is no easy feat!

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Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder stack Lunella Lafayette against Marvel’s biggest brains!

The Marvel Universe comes second to none in the realm of ridiculously smart super folks running around, punching bad guys and saving the day. However, as we have learned in MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR, a relative newcomer now stands at the top of the heap: nine-year-old Lunella Lafayette!

Of course, we don’t expect you to just take our word for that, so before issue #14 hits on December 28, we talked with MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR writers Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder about how their heroine feels about some of her “competition.”

Tony Stark
“For a guy who’s so smart, he sure gets himself in a lot of trouble! That’s overly simple—but as smart as she is, you have to remember Lunella only has the worldliness of a nine-year-old. In that naivety there’s a confidence that only she can discover the very best way to change the world.”

Reed Richards
“It was fun while it lasted.”

Doctor Doom
“He never liked being second banana to Mr. Fantastic—now that he’s third it will really blow his mind.”

Hank McCoy
“She loves him! First, because he’s furry and blue and therefore lovable; second, she respects that he’s dedicated his mind to mastering the X-gene on top of being an adventuring super hero. Understanding the effects of Terrigenesis on Inhuman DNA is still a major goal for Lunella.”

Amadeus Cho
“She loved to dismiss Amadeus’ claims of being the Eighth Smartest Person. She said it was dubious and irrelevant. But that was before he called her #1! Now that she’s recognized in the top position, I think she’s a little obsessed with where everyone else ranks.”

T’Challa
“It’s a big world full of big brains and Lunella has barely been north of 14th Street. So Black Panther and the high technology of Wakanda seem impossibly far away.”

Hank Pym
“Lunella wishes she had a box of Pym Particles to sprinkle on Devil Dinosaur. Shrinking him down to the size of an action figure would make it much easier to keep him out of trouble.”

Bruce Banner
“She never got to meet the Incredible Hulk, but there’s a strong connection. Lunella tops the list by solving his “unsolvable” legacy invention: the Banner B.O.X. They have a lot in common. While anger doesn’t transform her into a raging green monster, she does have trouble controlling her incoming adolescent emotions.”

Lunella continues to strut her smarts in MOON GIRL & DEVIL DINOSAUR #14, available December 28 from Brandon Montclare, Amy Reeder, and Natacha Bustos!

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