or, “I Heart the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl”
I finally finally picked up the first tradeback of “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” (called “Squirrel Power,” naturally) which has the first four issues and a bonus reprint of the first appearance of Squirrel Girl (in “Marvel Super Heroes #8”). It’s everything I hoped it would be and I’m going to get subsequent tradebacks.
First, a disclaimer. In real life, I don’t like squirrels. Like, not at all. They get in my garden and eat my vegetables. That wouldn’t bother me so much because a squirrel’s gotta eat, but they just take a few bites and then toss the veg to the side and repeat with a new, perfectly good veggie. My friends also had some particularly destructive and/or stupid squirrels that tried to eat the shingles off their roof and did some significant damage. I had a friend survive two assassination attempts from squirrels gnawing through the propane lines to his gas grill. The over-sized squirrels at the University of Notre Dame form roaming street gangs and harass students and visitors alike for food. If you refuse, they give you a truly hairy eyeball. I’d call them tree rats, but that’s an insult to rats. One of my best friends as a kid was a rat. I think of squirrels as furry seagulls.
However, in various media, I think squirrels are great. Slappy Squirrel was one of my favorite characters from Animaniacs. I really enjoyed Kronk’s unexpected ability to talk to squirrels in The Emperor’s New Groove. Even squirrels in viral videos, gifs, and memes are fun too. Therefore, it should be no surprise I like Squirrel Girl.
From her very first appearance, she was meant to be a fun, goofy character but surprisingly effective. She’s a mutant with a squirrel tail (the ears are fake), buck teeth (with one that can gnaw through wood), a knuckle spike for fighting (which seems to have been phased out), fingernail claws for climbing, the proportional strength, speed, and dexterity of a squirrel, and can communicate with squirrels. She wants to be a superhero and ends up in a fight with Dr. Doom because she’s trying to impress Iron Man (she thinks the X-men are stuck up). And then she (and Monkey Joe) legitimately beats Dr. Doom and saves Iron Man’s life.
Doreen Green has gone through ups and downs. She featured most prominently on the Great Lakes Avengers, which was a surprisingly dark-toned comic. The attitude of the people to the GLA was that they were second-stringers are best and weren’t to be taken seriously. The team lead, Mr. Immortal, had no powers but couldn’t die (despite trying repeatedly), and Doorman ended up a servant of Oblivion. Boy howdy, those were some light, fun characters… In the course of the series, Monkey Joe sadly perished at the hands of a rejected candidate. Squirrel Girl got a new companion and sought revenge, as you do. Squirrel Girl bounced from comic to comic, spent a bit of time in the New Avengers as a nanny, defeated Wolverine, but was treated way too seriously for all that.
In the world of grim and gritty and relentlessly dark comics, “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” is such a refreshing change of pace. The writing is light-hearted and the artwork is a bit cartoonish, but it all works. Honestly, seeing a sexy version of Squirrel Girl in New Avengers (and her and Wolverine apparently having hooked up in the past) was just all wrong. This kind of comic art style and writing feels just right for a character like Squirrel Girl. With her squirrel companion, Tippy Toe, she’s trying to better herself by going to the oft-blown up Empire State University to major in computer science. She’s trying to maintain a secret identity and navigate the usual problems of college – weird roommate, messed-up class schedules, crushes, and so on.
There is so much I love about these comics. I like the art style for this kind of comic and while Squirrel Girl is not sexy she is still pretty, but her body shape makes sense for her power set. Her teeth are still somewhat prominent. I like the writing too because it is clever (the unreliable narrator adds commentary at the bottom of some pages) and because Squirrel Girl doesn’t just punch her way to victory. She actually has to think her way through the situation because, well, the powers of both squirrel and girl generally don’t go very far in a fight with Dr. Doom. I like the Deadpool trading cards she consults about the villains she faces, which are a handy way of introducing them to the audience as well. I like the recap pages (although thus far neither Squirrel Girl or Tippy Toe are meta enough to read that page). I like a female lead in a comic book. I love the sense of fun and the care obvious from the creative team. I love the clever writing. I love everything about it and everyone should read this comic.
In short, get this series! You’ll go nuts for Squirrel Girl.