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Marvel's Devil Dinosaur: 12 Facts To Take You Back To The Mesozoic Era

Making his debut in the first issue of his very own ongoing series in 1978, Devil Dinosaur is one of the exceptionally strange Marvel characters that truly makes comics great. A great big dinosaur that hails from a place called Dinosaur World? Sign us up immediately. Devil Dinosaur works best on a team, and his partners in world-saving, Moon-Boy and Moon Girl, have both proven to be delightful in their own rights. Though periodically slipping off the radar, Devil Dinosaur has still had pretty impressive staying power for a character that could have easily been reduced to the status of a failed gimmick after the conclusion of his debut nine-issue series.

Rocketing to the top of Marvel's enormous list of superstar concepts with a new Disney+ animated series alongside his best pal Moon Girl might seem like a pretty big deal, but let's face it, Devil Dinosaur is used to the spotlight. Sure, he didn't experience the joy of an ongoing series co-starring Moon Girl that clocked in at nearly 50 issues (for contemporary Marvel comics, 50 is a lot) and granted him unprecedented focus until 2016, but that doesn't mean our bright crimson friend hasn't been across the Marvel Universe and then some over the years.

A Kamandi ripoff?

Jack Kirby has an unparalleled comic book legacy, having created or co-created many of Marvel's biggest characters — the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Black Panther, and the first wave of X-Men, to name just a few — during his creative partnership with Stan Lee in the 1960s. Yet in his lifetime, some of his best concepts were buried under his need to turn out work-for-hire projects to keep food on the table at home. According to the magazine Back Issue! #21, Devil Dinosaur's creation came about due to Marvel executives wanting to cash in on the popularity of another Kirby creation — DC's Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth. Unless you spend a lot of time flipping through long boxes, you might not immediately think "instant classic" when you hear the name "Kamandi," but in the late 1970s he was popular enough for his series to run for six years.

Working off of the popularity of "Planet of the Apes," Kirby had created a similar concept for "Kamandi" — it's a post-apocalyptic tale in which a young man wanders a world that suffers a disaster that causes animals to hyper-evolve. Today, Kamandi is mostly forgotten outside of occasional deep cuts and the occasional attempt at a reboot. Kirby flipped the script and traveled to the distant past for Devil Dinosaur and his caveman-inspired companion Moon-Boy.

He wasn't born red

The cover of "Devil Dinosaur" #1 refers to Moon-Boy as "the first boy," a likely intentional riff on Kamandi. Yet, that still leaves a lot of questions for the casual observer about why exactly this kid covered partially in fur and hailing from a tribe of volcano-dwelling hunter-gatherers known as the Small-Folk is hanging out with Devil Dinosaur. Well, it's (kind of) simple. As a kid, Moon-Boy comes across a horrible sight — a tribe named the Killer-Folk needlessly attacks a family of dinosaurs — killing the mother and two out of her three children. The skin of the remaining youngster is newly scorched red from the torches that destroyed his family. Moon-Boy sympathizes with the orphaned diney and takes him in, naming him Devil.

Despite this tragic backstory, the happy part of this tale is that Devil and Moon-Boy become BFFs, so much so that when the Small-Folk insist that Moon-Boy choose between them and Devil Dinosaur, he chooses the dinosaur and it's not even close. The two of them are inseparable for much of their continuity until a skirmish with the Killer-Folk leads Moon-Boy to be gravely injured at the start of the "Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur" comic series. A hero to the end, but more importantly a caring friend, Moon-Boy insists that Devil Dinosaur go on without him.

Dinosaur World

The Marvel Universe is no stranger to dinosaurs, and from human-dino hybrids like Reptil, Sauron, and Dinah Soar to the many prehistoric creatures that call the Savage Land home, Devil is in good company. Yet, as with so many of those characters and creations, the true nature of his origins remains a bit inconsistent. Initially, his home, Dinosaur World, was intended to function in a semi-historical capacity, representing the end of the dinosaur era as mankind gained its foothold on Earth. Naturally, there is a pretty wide margin granted for creative license here, but it's a pretty straightforward concept to follow. Yet, anyone who knows Marvel knows that "straightforward" isn't always on the agenda.

Enter: Earth-78411, otherwise known as ... well, still Dinosaur World. However, some major changes to Devil's backstory play out over time, with some creators sticking to the original idea of Devil coming from the Marvel Universe's prehistoric era, while others have gone the route of making Devil and Moon-Boy extraterrestrials from a distant planet. The most recent twist on Devil's origins is the notion that Dinosaur World is its own planet in the Multiverse in which dinosaurs never went extinct and occasionally befriended humans. Despite the fact that Dinosaur World is an epic idea, there hasn't been a ton of exploration around this concept. Here's hoping it pops up in the cartoon.

He met Godzilla

Let's be clear about one thing right off the top — Godzilla is actually a dinosaur, even if mostly only during the 1990s and according to a handful of films starting with "Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah" in 1991. (So maybe it's more accurate to say Godzilla is sometimes a dinosaur — but you understand our point.) Though he may look like a T-rex, now and again, Godzilla is actually Godzillasaurus, so hopefully that clears some things up. 

He's also occasionally a Marvel character and has a wild history of interacting with Marvel heroes like the Avengers, and, well, Devil Dinosaur. Though the chaotic licensing of Godzilla is the kind of headache we reserve for its own article, we can say that Godzilla isn't currently appearing in any Marvel comics, but that doesn't mean he never will again. (So stay tuned, true believers.)

In a story called "The Doom Trip!" that unfolds in "Godzilla" #21 and #22 from 1979, Godzilla falls into a shark tank, and it's up to a group called the Godzilla Squad and some odd ducks called the Fantastic Four to fish him out. They take him back to the Baxter Building and, naturally, use Doctor Doom's time machine to send Godzilla back in time. As Dinosaur World is still considered Earth's distant past at this point in Marvel canon, Godzilla runs into Devil Dinosaur and Moon-Boy. They team up to fight some lizard men, then Reed Richards uses the time machine to transport a very upset Godzilla right smack dab in the middle of New York City out of nowhere. Frankly, Reed, you might have sat this one out.

Devil Dinosaur: The Movie

Sure, Devil Dinosaur has charisma and star power to spare, but he always seems fairly down-to-earth, at least as far as enormous, beet-red dinosaurs go. Yet, the world knows what it wants, and in "Thing" #31, the world wants "Devil Dinosaur: The Movie." 

While he's best known as the heart and soul of the Fantastic Four, Ben Grimm is also fun during his occasional solo series, and this ongoing from the 1980s is no different. Kicking off when his wrestling federation (long story) gets investigated by the National Safety Commission, Ben is granted a two-week leave during which he hopes to spend time with his steady, Sharon Ventura. Yet, this turns out to be its own problem, as Sharon is working on location as a stuntperson on a little film titled, appropriately enough, "Devil Dinosaur: The Movie."

When Ben shows up, he immediately smashes an animatronic Devil Dinosaur to bits, which doesn't help Sharon's standing on the film. Ben continues jumping into superhero mode and it puts a strain on his relationship with Sharon, who is only trying to do her job and doesn't need to be saved. Meanwhile, a very random dinosaur (not Devil) pops up out of the ocean and fights with the animatronic Devil before returning to the sea. Like so many one-off Marvel comics of its era, this story is completely bonkers, with Devil Dinosaur playing a major role in the story without ever actually making an appearance. As for what happened with the film, we aren't sure, but we're guessing it's definitely an in-universe cult classic.

He can lay eggs ... maybe

The Heroes for Hire are a fun concept that never seems to fully get its due, only appearing in a couple of relatively short-lived series and one-off guest appearances over the years. For those new to the concept, fortunately, the name of the team explains everything — it's a group of heroes primarily associated with Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Misty Knight, and Colleen Wing that steps in to take on jobs in which people with superpowers are needed. Eschewing the status quo concept of heroes being simply thrilled to risk their lives for free on the regular and apparently not needing money to live, Heroes for Hire takes on some wild jobs. Naturally, that's how they encounter our friend Devil and his apparent egg-laying capabilities.

Accepting a gig from SHIELD, the Heroes travel to the Savage Land in search of a kidnapped Moon-Boy, who has been separated from Devil. Oh, did we say "separated?" We actually mean ditched. Devil is found guarding a clutch of eggs that, to all appearances, he laid himself, leaving Moon-Boy to his own devices in order to protect them from predators. This baffles the Heroes for Hire, and they're not the only ones, although we think it's great that D.D. can lay eggs (maybe?) and (if so) fully support him doing so. Although this ability hasn't been mentioned much since the 2007 "Heroes for Hire" series, so who knows if it'll come up again.

His psychic connection with Moon Girl

The "Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur" ongoing series was brought to us by many creators over its 47-issue run, but the series and the character of Moon Girl, aka Lunella Lafayette, was created by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, and Natacha Bustos. One of its best running jokes and plot points is that Moon Girl and Devil share a psychic connection so strong that it occasionally causes them to swap bodies. At first, this happens entirely by accident as the two unsuspecting heroes are shocked to find themselves suddenly inhabiting each other's forms. The endless visual gags are worth the price of admission alone, but the character growth that comes from the revelation is an added bonus as the two end the story as better friends than ever before.

At first, Moon Girl is shocked to realize that she has special abilities beyond her incredible intelligence. When she's either angry or hungry, she has a tendency to lose control and swap bodies with Devil. Obviously, inhabiting the large, potentially destructive dinosaur body is a massively bewildering experience for her; meanwhile, in one instance, Devil in Moon Girl's form terrorizes a classroom by growling and hopping over desks. Though Disney and the MCU might change certain parts of Moon Girl's origin, there is no way the upcoming Disney+ series is going to let the comedic gold of the body swap pass it by.

He was in the Fantastic Four

The Fantastic Four are one of comics' most vital superhero teams, but like all superhero franchises, they are known to go through rough patches. Sometimes when Sue and Reed Richards are unavailable and Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm can't find any replacements, they're stuck carrying on as the Fantastic Two. Likewise, at one point, Moon Girl experiences a hard time when she comes to believe that Devil truly belongs with Moon-Boy and sends him away without allowing him to make the choice for himself.

Realizing she can't do the things she wants to accomplish alone, she teams with Johnny and Ben (and their robot companion, H.E.R.B.I.E.) to bring Devil back, at which time he puts on a classic "FF" costume of his own. Moon Girl is constantly frustrated by Johnny and Ben's antics, preferring a much more serious and scientific approach to superheroing. After an adventure or two, she announces that she and Devil will have to leave the team, telling them that they will all work better off apart from each other, but that Ben needs Johnny and she needs Devil. This story can't be oversold for how hilarious and heartwarming it is, but suffice it to say, Moon Girl and Devil are important members of the Fantastic Four, even if only for a very brief tenure.

The X-Men crossovers

As a character that exists in Marvel's sprawling continuity, there is no way Devil Dinosaur wasn't going to appear in an X-Men crossover, mini-series, one-shot, or guest appearance somewhere along the line. Though he doesn't interact with the X-Family too often, there are still plenty of dinosaur-mutant alliances from over the years. First up, the New Mutants spin-off series, "Fallen Angels." In the late 1980s, creators Jo Duffy and Kerry Gammill premiered an eight-issue mini-series in which Sunspot leaves the New Mutants and starts a new X-group. This series is a wild ride that has to be read to be believed, but the important takeaway is that at one point the ragtag team is teleported to Dinosaur World, and they bring Moon-Boy and Devil Dinosaur back with them for a stint on normal Earth.

The X-Men make some more minor appearances through the "Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur" series, but more recently, the one-shot "X-Men and Moon Girl" saw Moon Girl teaming up with Wolverine and Havok. With Devil kidnapped by the High Evolutionary and his link with Moon Girl apparently broken, she taps the X-Men to help her track him down.

There are a lot of Alternate Universe Devil Dinosaurs

As much as X-Men crossovers are fully unavoidable facts of the Marvel Universe, so is the Multiverse, and it may go without saying that a character that apparently hails from a parallel Earth to begin with has a handful of other incarnations across the many timelines. Some of these are one-off gags, some are significantly more tragic, but they are all sadly much too brief. For instance, in "What If...?" #34, Devil Dinosaur appears as the Watcher comically walks us through countless possible worlds, one in particular displaying a frazzled Howard the Duck heading up a team of anthropomorphic heroes as an animal-friendly version of the Avengers.

Other blips on the radar include a cybernetic Devil in "Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine," a Deadpool version of Devil known as Deadpool Dinosaur in the series "Deadpool Kills Deadpool," and a heel turn in "Mutant X" as a member of the Lethal Legion. Though not strictly an alternate universe, in NextWave, Devil goes completely off the rails as a mustache-twirling villain who is later revealed to be a clone. Finally, perhaps most prominently among the alternate Devils, he appears in the "Secret Wars" take on "Planet Hulk" as he teams up with Captain America to take out the Red King — a despotic version of the Red Hulk. Devil doesn't see a ton of characterization in that story either, but he's part of some pretty epic fight scenes.

Devil Dinosaur has already been on TV

As amped as we are for the "Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur" series, Devil Dinosaur has a surprisingly long history appearing in various Marvel animated series and films. Though most of these appearances are a blip on the radar and Devil isn't exactly the star of the show, it's still neat to think of how well the character's aesthetic translates to animation, even when he's only appearing in the background. In the many-chaptered tale "Six Against Infinity" of "The Super Hero Squad Show," Wolverine is dropped onto Dinosaur World where the High Evolutionary is mucking things up and causing problems, as usual.

In both "Avengers Assemble" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" animated series, Devil makes minor appearances, but he plays a fairly big role in "Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H." during its "Days of Future Smash" storyline. Though Devil is brainwashed by Sauron to help the Leader, he ends up helping the agents in opposing him. Not only do we get to see young Devil team up with a time-displaced Hulk, but we also meet a couple of alternate reality versions of our beloved dinosaur — a grizzled post-apocalyptic Devil going by the name El Diablo helps defeat the Leader in one universe, while a vampire version fights the good fight in another. Across the universe, Devil Dinosaur does alright. 

He's played by voice acting veteran Fred Tatasciore

We already know that "Marvel's Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur" features guest stars galore, with everyone from Cobie Smulders to Method Man to Maya Hawke to Wesley Snipes making appearances, but it will take a true mastermind to communicate the many grunts and growls of Devil Dinosaur in a way that works. 

Fortunately, the folks at Disney+ know their voice actors, and they've tapped some megastars for the series, including Laurence Fishburne stepping in as The Beyonder and Diamond White taking on the role of Lunella Lafayette. For D.D., the prolific Fred Tatasciore is handling the job. Tatasciore is no stranger to the world of superheroes, having portrayed the X-Men's Beast, the Hulk, and DC's Solomon Grundy at various points.

While we're thrilled to see what Tatasciore brings to the role, Devil Dinosaur has some pretty impressive voice actors behind him. In "The Super Hero Squad Show," he's portrayed by Dee Bradley Baker, known for megahits like "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and "Steven Universe." In "Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.," he's portrayed by none other than Steve Blum, known for his turn as Spike in "Cowboy Bebop." With all this talent pulling for Devil behind the scenes, it's a great time to be a Devil Dinosaur fan.