I’m taking a break from my analysis of comics on “the shelf” to delve into a discussion about a *gasp* Marvel comic (yes, this blog is primarily DC-based, but that doesn’t mean I can’t branch out every once in a while. My blog, my rules). What’s more, I’m talking about a contemporary comic (because a girl can’t survive on 1970’s Batman comics alone).
The comic in question is The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, which embodies everything a comic should be. Long story short, it is FREAKING AWESOME. I could just write an entire post with the words “I love Squirrel Girl” over and over again, but that wouldn’t really do justice to the genius that is this comic.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl tells the story of Doreen Green, a girl with the physical strength and power of a squirrel. The comics begin with her kicking some serious bad-guy butt (all while singing her amazing theme song) before embarking on her first day of college. These first few pages provide a great introduction to her character in all her awkward, awesome glory.
I received the first issue of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (a reprint, released about a month ago) as a gift from Mistah J, who picked it up in all his infinite wisdom, thinking I would enjoy it (there is a family of squirrels that live in his neighbor’s gutter that I may or may not talk to (and feed) on a semi-regular basis). The cover was super adorable, and I figured it would be a fun little read, quick and entertaining, but maybe too silly for me to really get into for more than one issue.
OHMYGOSH how wrong I was.
This comic is brilliant, plain and simple. Ryan North’s witty, realistic writing pairs perfectly with Erica Henderson’s clever artwork, and creates not only a wonderful character but a completely engaging story.
How? I’m glad you asked (I’m sure you did).
The shining light of this comic is Doreen herself. She is smart and snarky and confident and completely believable. In a world of overly-drawn, rippled superheroes, Doreen is a breath of fresh air, looking completely normal (big bushy tail aside). When attending college and needing to be “in disguise”, Doreen tucks her tail in, proclaiming that doing so creates the illusion of a big butt, something she views as a major positive.
This alone is enough to endear me to her character and the story as a whole, but I was even happier to see this in the following panel:
This small detail is subtle, and certainly easy to overlook, but I’m thrilled that it was included. Should Doreen’s butt be the focus of the comic? No, and it’s not. The sly inclusion of this detail though creates a clear signal that says, “Hey girls, guys might actually like your butt a little big”. I don’t want to go off on a tangent about the unattainable standards girls hold themselves up to, because that’s not what this post is about. I have to point out this detail though, because it provides a perfect example of why this series is so great.
Doreen is relatable. Squirrel characteristics aside, she is just a regular girl, concerned with making friends, appearing normal, and getting tongue-tied when a cute guy talks to her. Even if Doreen didn’t have any super powers, I would still want to read her story.
That being said, the superhero aspect of her story is equally as awesome as the girl-next-door side. Doreen is not a member of The Avengers (though she really wants to be), but she still finds herself constantly tossed into life and death battles (okay, sometimes she seeks them out). One of my favorite stories so far was when she had to go up against Galactus, consumer of planets. Aided by her ever-faithful squirrel sidekick Tippy Toe, Squirrel Girl *borrows* an Iron Man suit and sets out to head off Galactus before he can get to Earth.
I hadn’t thought the comic could get any better, and then I saw the Iron Squirrel Suit. You know that’s freaking awesome, don’t even try to pretend it isn’t.
Since this is a newer comic (and not 50+ years old like most of the comics I’ve written about on here so far), I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but take my word for it: Doreen’s encounter with Galactus is well worth the read. I wondered how one little ‘ole Squirrel Girl could take on such a colossal foe, but she manages to hold her own and save the planet (NOT a spoiler. We’re all still here, so obviously she succeeded).
Another brilliant addition to this series is the inclusion of footnotes on just about every page of every issue. Although not essential to the story as a whole, I highly recommend reading them as they add an entirely new dimension of humor to the comic. Indeed, some of my favorite lines from the comics are from the footnotes. I can’t say for sure whether such an approach is unique to this comic, but it’s certainly well-suited to The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, providing us with a little more insight into an already endearing character’s mind.
I said it before and I’ll say it again, I FREAKING LOVE THIS COMIC. Doreen is the type of superhero I would want my kids to reading about (if I had kids). A little awkward, a little clumsy, but completely strong and self-sufficient. The jokes abound, and the humor’s witty and entertaining. I still maintain that this comic could easily be turned into a television cartoon series, with epic results. As in, the next “Batman: The Animated Series” epic. Somebody make this happen and I will love you forever. Also, in said cartoon, can I be the voice of Doreen? Pretty please?? I’m awkward and have a certain affinity for squirrels. That has to earn me some bonus points. Dibs on playing her in a live-action version as well. I can act squirrelish when need be, and they wouldn’t have to pad my butt for the tail-tucked-in scenes.
But I digress.
If you haven’t discovered this gem of a comic yet, I recommend you go out right away and buy it (I’m still devastated that I can’t find issues 6-8 anywhere. I have 1-5 collected in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1, but can’t find the single issues for the life of me. Luckily, Vol. 2 comes out in December. I’m pretending I’m okay with waiting that long.) If you’ve already read Doreen’s epic adventures, than you know what I’m talking about, and we should be besties and talk about how awesome squirrels are and how much we want to be in the Avengers and have little squirrel sidekicks.
…Or you could just leave me a comment saying you like her too, like normal people probably do…
Oh, and in case you’re still not sold on the idea of Squirrel Girl yet? Her catch phrase is, “Eats Nuts, Kicks Butts.”
If that doesn’t make you instantly love her, we can’t be friends.