writer: Ryan North / artist: Erica Henderson / Marvel Comics
The first thing you need to know is the melody of the Spider-Man theme song. This is important. If you don’t know it, you won’t be able to sing along on the very first page of this issue when our adorable heroine Doreen Green, aka “Squirrel Girl”, introduces herself and her equally adorable best friend, Tippy Toe (a regular squirrel). This introduction sets the tone for many genuine laugh out loud moments full of camp and nostalgia.
In this issue, we see that our little Doreen of the Great Lakes Avengers is (still) growing up. While there is no reference made to her nanny duties for Luke Cage and Jennifer Jones, we see her packing her belongings and leaving the attic of the Avenger’s mansion to begin her freshman year at Empire State University. She confides to Tippy Toe that she has decided to adopt a secret identity in order to protect her loved ones, even though from what we can tell, her “loved ones” can be narrowed down to Tippy alone. Tippy herself has no powers, she’s just a normal squirrel who serves as SG’s loyal companion and sounding board. As quirky as that duo is, when we meet Doreen’s new Blerd roommate Nancy Whitehead and her kitten Mew, you can feel the potential for crew hijinks skyrocket. In keeping with the excellent pacing of the issue, shortly after we meet Nancy we meet this issues villain, Kraven the Hunter. We know it’s Kraven because SG keeps a deck of Deadpool’s Guide to Super Villains cards handy to assist with bad guy identification.
The next few pages are spent giving new readers some necessary exposition about why Doreen is called the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and a few laughs later we reach both the end of this issue and a cliffhanger involving the one and only Galactus.
Artistically, everything is as it should be for a light hearted romp such as this. While Henderson’s style is not exactly my taste, it works marvelously well, including Squirrel Girl’s new character design. Her claws are gone while her buck teeth remain. Early on in the issue she removes the headband that her ears are mounted upon and stuffs her tail into her pants, effectively giving herself a “conspicuously large and conspicuously awesome butt”, and I can’t help but to wonder if the Black dude on campus who offers to help carry her boxes one page over was as much of as fan of her full figure as I was. Henderson does a great job of illustrating the energy our girl has and her slightly cooky personality, and she even captures a full range of squirrel emotion on Tippy. Of course it’s North’s writing that really shines. The pacing, the personality, the tone…The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl knows exactly what kind of comic book it is and makes no apologies for it. Doreen is excitable and joyous, she loves her powers and who she is. She is confident and her exuberance is contagious. She is, dare I say, the kind of mutant I would love to be were I born with rodent DNA.
Bonus round: Take a second to read the Letters From Nuts section in the back for even more fun!