The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Volume 1: Squirrel Power! by Ryan North and Erica Henderson, Marvel Now!, 2015
At first glance, Squirrel Girl might seem like the most ridiculous idea for a superhero: a hero who is part human, part squirrel. However, in the capable hands of Ryan North and Erica Henderson, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is a hilarious romp through the Marvel Universe.
Doreen Green is an average college freshman studying computer science at Empire State University who happens to be part human, part squirrel. While facing the typical challenges of life as a college freshman, she also takes on and defeats some of the biggest villains in the Marvel Universe.
During this first volume, which collects the comic’s first four issues, as well as Squirrel Girl’s initial appearance from 1990, Squirrel Girl faces supervillains such as Kraven the Hunter, Whiplash, and Galactus, as well as foiling a bank robbery. In each situation, Squirrel Girl primarily uses her intelligence to save the day, though she does have assistance from her squirrel sidekick Tippy-Toe, an army of squirrels, and an Iron Man suit she “borrows.” While there is a good amount of dramatic tension in the battle scenes, especially while she is fighting Galactus on the moon, this comic never loses its sense of humor.
While the majority of volume one is focused on Squirrel Girl’s and Tippy-Toe’s fights against the villains, the reader does get some glimpses into Doreen’s college life. Whether it is moving in, meeting her roommate Nancy, or choosing extracurricular activities, Doreen approaches each challenge with unrelenting enthusiasm. Nancy Whitehead, Doreen’s knitting and cat obsessed roommate, seems brusque at first, but she and Doreen become quick friends. It is clear as the comic progresses that these roommates will have many fun capers in future issues.
This book is the perfect read for anyone in search of more humorous superhero stories. Doreen Green is smart, resourceful, and funny. While she might occasionally be awkward, especially while trying to hide her secret identity, Doreen is self-assured and confident in her crime fighting abilities. Even though she has superhero abilities, Doreen is one of the most relatable heroes. Anyone who has ever experienced the discomfort of trying to “fit in” a new situation will relate to Doreen and the challenges she faces.
Ryan North, best known for his long running webcomic Dinosaur Comics and To Be or Not To Be: That is the Adventure, a choose-your- own-path-version of Hamlet, brings his signature brand of humor to this story. Funny footnotes commenting on the action in the comic panels can be found on almost every page. Erica Henderson’s artwork is cute without being sappy, and Doreen and her friends are drawn realistically, unlike many female superheroes of the past. The comic’s second collection, Squirrel You Know It’s True, was published in December 2015. I eagerly await the future adventures of Squirrel Girl and her friends. Give this comic to anyone in need of a laugh or looking for a fun, strong female character.
Elizabeth Weislak works in the children’s department of the Mebane Public Library. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-563-6431.