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October 20, 2015 // No Comments

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1: Squirrel Power! Review


So whilst through pop culture and reading bits here and there, I am fairly knowledgeable about both the Marvel and DC universes, I have a confession to make. That confession is that I have never bought a single issue of either one’s comic runs.

That I remember, maybe I bought an X-men comic when I was like… eight or something, but in my adult life? Never.

The reason for this is that the manga style of sequential art is always more attractive too me. Western comics always seemed over-written and chock full of muscular bland meat slabs that I had no interest in. I liked watching these characters and stories on TV and in movies, but the comics never gelled with me.

However, as I get older I’m trying to move out of my comfort zone and my roommate has a large collection of DC and Marvel comics, so I’ve dipped my foot into that well a little. I’ve glanced at some Deadpool which I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen, I had already read and loved Infinite Crisis and I just got done reading the excellent Batgirl: Batgirl of Burnside first trade which it’s fantastic and would recommend a lot.

So as a result, I woke on Sunday with an strange craving. For some reason I woke up with the strong desire to read The Unbeateable Squirrel Girl. Why? I have no idea, my best guess is that I’d seen plenty of snippets on Tumblr of the characters latest run and decided I liked what I saw. The problem is I haven’t been on Tumblr in months and…

I just remembered I put the word ‘review’ in that headline and five paragraphs in, I haven’t said a damn word about the book.

Long story short, I bought the first trade of The Unbeateable Squirrel Girl and I loved it. For those not in the know, Squirrel Girl is a comedic superheroine in the Marvel universe with mutant powers that girl her all the powers of, well, a squirrel. This includes the proportional strength of a squirrel, the ability to climb trees really well and she can also speak to squirrels. Squirrel Girl obviously started as a joke – the trade includes her first appearance and it’s… special – but reading this trade made really enjoy her as both a funny character, and as a character in of herself.

Squirrel Girl – Doreen – is incredibly likeable. She’s bursting with positive energy and does not take herself seriously. She faces off against some pretty big super villains in these issues – Kraven the Hunter, Whiplash, friggin’ Galactus – but she never loses her sense of optimism. Things turn out well for her because she seems completely incapable of seeing that they won’t, and that’s really endearing.

Also the fact her voice of reason is a pink bow wearing squirrel named Tippy-toe is hilarious.

The plot of the trade is pretty straight forward. Doreen has decided to stop squatting at Avengers Manor and go to college to study computers because… they’re parodying Batgirl of Burnside. Yeah, there is no reason I can see why Squirrel Girl is suddenly at college other than to parody that run on Batgirl, and having read both it’s obviously an affectionate parody and not overt. Doreen moves into campus, meets her roommate and potential love interest and then hi-jinks ensue.

Said hi-jinks take the form of the eater of worlds, Galactus, heading for Earth and only Squirrel Girl can stop him because – and I’m not making this up – Galactus’ cloaking device doesn’t work on Squirrels. As a result, only the squirrels have noticed and instead of telling the Avengers, Squirrel Girl opts to steal some of Iron Man’s tech and fly off to confront the big bad herself, with hilarious consequences.

 

If there’s one criticism of this book I can make, it’s that if this is in canon, then there’s a lot of out of character behaviour here. From what little I know, characters like Kraven and Galactus are far more relaxed and silly than you’d expect. That said, that’s half the joke here, and all the jokes hit their targets with brutal efficiency. I loved out loud about four times before I’d gotten past page 2 of the book, and that pace was kept up throughout.

I get the sense Squirrel Girl is meant to be aimed a younger audience, the art style is very cartoony and the jokes are broad and appealing to all. It’s clear the intention here was to create a Deadpool for kids (hell Deadpool cameos a few times) and if that was the case, then I say mission accomplished. That said, while I liked it, I question the choice to include Squirrel Girl’s first appearance in the book. Yes, the story is referenced in the main issues, but it feels like the classic issue takes up more space in the book than the actual new stuff. It doesn’t, obviously, but I feel like a newbie picking this up would be put off flicking through by that part.

Also Squirrel Girl’s old design was baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad.

I also like that Squirrel Girl’s design is clearly meant to be more homely, with a little bit chubbiness to set her apart from the normal super heroine. Or maybe that’s just the big booty she appears to have most of the time due to shoving her tail into the back of her pants, who knows?

All in all, Unbeateable Squirrel Girl was my first purchase of a western comic book and I honestly have zero regrets about it. I am chomping at the bit for the next trade to come out – come on December – and it got me interested in reading other series like Spider-Gwen (pretty good) or Ms Marvel (earth-shatteringly good). I recommend this to anyone who’s seen snippets of the character on Tumblr, or to anyone who is looking for a lighter look at the Marvel universe.

Now, how long do I have to wait for a Squirrel Girl movie, Marvel?