The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 (2015)
Writer: Ryan North
Art/Cover: Erica Henderson
Trading Card Art: Maris Wicks
Colors: Rico Renzi
Squirrel Girl debuted in the 1992 comic, Marvel Super-Heroes #8 and has since appeared as mostly a joke or parody character. She was a big part of the Great Lakes Avengers (especially in their mini) as well as the second volume of New Avengers, where she was performing the duties of a super powered nanny. Throughout all of her appearances, it is eluded that she has immense power and has taken down Galactus, Bi-Beast, Dr. Doom, and Thanos (though he swears it was a near perfect clone). She is also responsible for breaking Wolverine's heart at one point as well as many other curious acts. Squirrel Girl has mutant genes and her abilities include strong teeth, enhanced agility and strength, having a long and bushy squirrel tail, communication with squirrels, and lips that taste like hazelnut. Oh yeah, her sidekick is currently a squirrel named Tippy-Toe (who took the place of her deceased squirrel sidekick, Monkey Joe). Intrigued yet? Good! Let's discuss the issue.
Ryan North has most notably been the writer of the Adventure Time comic book series, so that should give you an idea of this book's tone. The story starts with Squirrel Girl kicking the snot out of some muggers while singing about her exploits to the tune of the Spider-man theme. After a quick dispatch she creates her secret identity of Doreen Green, who will begin attending college that very day. As she attempts to move into her dorm and out of the Avenger's attic, she is having a discussion with the curious Tippy-Toe, which of course gets the attention of the students around her. She's humorously bad at the whole secret identity thing. Anyway, once she drops her stuff off she discovers that she must face a classic Spider-Man villain who has appeared on the campus! Luckily she is prepared thanks to her Deadpool's Guide to Super Villains trading card collection! I'll leave the details of the fight and what happens next up to you guys, but that snippet should give you an idea of the fun in this issue. The book is filled with witty dialogue that will not fail to make the reader chuckle at least once, and under every page there is a quick commentary from Squirrel Girl. Forrrrr example, after she sings her theme song the commentary reads "You now have the Spider-man theme song stuck in your head for the rest of the issue. You're welcome." Funny stuff!
Squirrel Girl's personality and intent are so clear with every line of dialogue, and it shows that she is a ridiculous and fun character without hammering the point home too hard. One quality that is extremely important is how confident Squirrel Girl is, whether she is super heroing or being a normal person, she is always sure of what she is doing. This is most apparent as she develops her secret identity for the first time, and notes and appreciates how big her butt looks with her tail tucked into her pants, showing that she in not only confident, but also body positive. This would be a cool detail for a character to have in any book, but is especially important for kids to see in an all ages title. The message is clear and important.
Erica Henderson (to me, most notable for her work on Subatomic Party Girls) is no stranger to the YA/all-ages genre, and enhances the image of Squirrel Girl that North depicts. Squirrel Girl herself, as I'm sure you can tell by the photos I've included, is a curvaceous character (further portaying the body positivity) with 2 big bucked teeth and an enormous squirrel tail. The title character is silly, and while Squirrel Girl might not think so, all of the other characters in the story do, and they have humorous facial expressions and actions as they try to keep up with her and her secret identity. It is very clear that Henderson worked hard to make sure the characters/characterization are the clear focal point of this story, and teamed with North's dialogue and Rico Renzi's colors this is even further achieved. The action scenes are a constant reminder of Suirrel Girl's strength and fighting prowess. Also of note is Maris Wicks illustration for the Kraven trading card, I hope we see more of these in future issues.
When it comes down to it, this fine work that Henderson, North, and the rest of the creative team has concocted is a gleaming example of positivity, confidence, innocence and fun that many comics lack these days. With something for everyone, regardless of age, I would be hard pressed not to recommend it. My son saw it and now plays as the character constantly in Lego Marvel Superheroes. The first issue of this story came out a couple weeks ago at a cover price of $3.99. Do yourself a favor and check it out, if the "to be continued" at the end is any indication, the next issue is going to be a doozy!