Thursday, July 21, 2016

CBR The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1 Squirrel Power

This is it! The big #300 comic book review! Have I been doing these for that long?!

To cross this big milestone, I felt I had to review my current favorite comic book series. Which turns out to be Marvel's Unbeatable Squirrel Girl!

Tippy-Toe says: Read these reviews!

Comic title: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Volume 1: Squirrel Power
Written by Ryan North 
Drawn by Erica Henderson

Published by Marvel Comics 
From September 2015
Lineup Squirrel Girl series
Format: Trade paperback softcover collecting The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl issues #1-4 and Marvel Super-Heroes (1992) #8.

"Squirrel Girl".

I know, it's impossible to think otherwise, the first time you read that name you probably think to the House of Ideas Marvel Comics actually run out ideas. But the ridiculousness of the name was always part of the idea behind Squirrel Girl.

She was actually created Steve Ditko himself in the 1992 Marvel Super-Heroes Winter Special issue, Marvel Super-Heroes vol. 2, #8. The idea was to make a fun lighthearted vintage-style superhero as a throwback to classic comic books, comics had become so dark, gritty and overly dramatic after the likes of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns (and mainstream comics and superhero movies kind of still are to this very day).

Since that first appearance Squirrel Girl remained a fun character, msotly kept to the sidelines as a one-off joke character.

She would received much bigger prominence after joining Dan Slott's Great Lakes Avengers where she lived several self-contained adventures.

After her time with the GLA, she went back to obscurity... before knowing a second popularity once she became the nanny of Luke Cage and Jessica Jones' daughter in Brian Bendis' New Avengers series. This helped get some well-deserved spotlight back on SG and helped her get all sorts of cameos and appearances through different Marvel titles, video games and cartoons the last few years - such as a notable cameo on the 2006 Fantastic Four cartoon as well as the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series and the Super Hero Squad video games. There were even some solid rumors about her appearing in Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 for a really long while.

But who is Squirrel Girl exactly?

Originally introduced as 14-year-old mutant girl Doreen Green, Squirrel Girl has the proportional strength and speed of squirrels! She's just a regular girl with"squirrel powers" as well as the ability to speak with squirrels and command an army of squirrels! It's ridiculous and completely expected for such a fun lighthearted throwback to classic characters. She used to have a pet squirrel named Monkey Joe. In her first appearance she basically saved Iron Man from Doctor Doom himself! After that it became a recurring joke she could basically defeat anyone from Deadpool to Thanos, all thanks to her Squirrel powers!

She was probably created as in-joke about the whole ridiculousness of comic books and the Marvel Universe a whole! What kept alive Squirrel Girl "alive" and standout from many others was how this random low-key character was secretly Marvel's most powerful superhero! She probably took out most Avengers and all of the biggest bad guys at least once by now!

That's probably why Luke Cage and Jessica Jones hired this unbeatable nanny!

Following the Great Lakes Avengers miniseries she lost Monkey Joe. Since then she's been joined by new pet and sidekick Tippy-Toe!

Over the last few years several writers and artists tried pitching a Squirrel Girl project. Most notably Bendis after using her on his Avengers book.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl was finally launched as part of the Marvel Now lineup. The series last for 8 issues, from January 2015 to August 2015, before being relaunched following the Secret Wars event (although the book was simply allowed to continue with the exact same creative team despite a renumbering from #1).

This marks Squirrel Girl's first solo series! It comes from Adventure Time writer Ryan North and artist Erica Henderson!

Finally, Squirrel Girl gets a proper standalone ongoing title! Why did it take this long?

Our story opens directly following her previous adventures, which you aren't required to be familiar with to enjoy this book.

It's time for Doreen to finally leave the attic of the Avengers mansion where she had been leaving in secret all this time!

She wants a new start in her life! So she's starting college at the Empire State University, majoring in computer science and not squirrels!

At first things appear to be going smoothly. She gets a cool new roomate, Nancy Whitehead, who's obsessed with her cat! She has this cool new secret identity, which she never really had before! She even gets to fight some super villains!

Wait, why is Kraven trashing around the campus? She quickly disposes of him easily, sending him off to face some sea monster, Giganto.

But soon some cosmic-level threat is heading towards Earth! Galactus is hungry again! And only squirrels have picked this up so far!

Doreen decides to "borrow" an Iron Man armor from "her old friend" Tony Stark,! But on her way to the moon she's attacked by Whiplash whom mistook her for Iron Man. And she's forced to send some squirrels off thwart a burglary.

And how exactly can put a stop to a cosmic entity like Galactus? Girl better figure something out...

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is without a doubt Ryan North and Erica Henderson's creation. The book is completely in their hands and they seem to be having a blast with it!

They were able to turn this C-list character into the protagonist of a great series! I like to see "fun" back in comics.

It's a great change from most current mainstream superhero comics. It's fun, fast-paced and hilarious!

Squirrel Girl even got her own theme song! You know "the one", which Spider-Man stole for his own cartoon series back in the 60s...

Erica Henderson's art is great and so unique! Some of the faces may took a while to get used to, specially if you're not used to read different type of comic books or cartoons. But the cartoony tone really works well for SG. Wit those bright bold colors!

The book is hilariously funny!

Squirrel Girl is such a great character!

Not only she can basically physically defeat most bad guys, but she's actually always prefer to use her logic to do so. She even tries to talk with the billains. She ends up giving Kraven a scarier monster to hunt instead of Spider-man!

She's a fun light-hearted superhero. She tries to help some of her villains!

This was a nice update to the character. They gave her a brand new fun costume, great quirky dialogues. Making her a very relatable heroine for all readers. of all ages.

Ryan North brought the same witty funny writing he's best known for. I love how he has SG try to not defeat all of her foes but sometimes befriend them.

I also really liked how he brought the same type of side-notes and commentaries he's best known for to the bottom of the pages (the same way he does on Adventure Time). Although there was a big lisibility problem in the first few issues with the letterer, I'm glad they changed the color later on.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is such a great example of a perfect creative team having fun with a book! Every panel is important here, every beat of the story is just as well executed! It's a really fun book that knows it's fun having a good time!

They even found a great clever way to work some exposition and information directly into the series thanks to the use of "trading card" Deadpool gave to Squirrel Girl! Those often feature the artwork of guest artists Maris Wicks, Kyle Starks and Mini Marvels creator Chris Giarrusso!

I like how they also kept the fanmail section written by Ryan North and Erica Henderson! Those were just as funny and a big part of the experience!

Are you tired of reading me say that?

It's just a great book!

It's great for both adults and kids alike! It's really funny. Great solid writing and I just fell in love with the art! It sure ain't your standard comic book art style, but it gives this book a unique direction. Give it a try and you might fall in love with it as well!

The book is called The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl for a reason!! It's not just to show how strong she is but it's also about her attitude in general. In a way it's kind of similar to that (great) Netflix show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - which sound both really similar in my eyes. (There's your SG casting right there!)

Finally the trade also reprints the 1991 classic Marvel Super-Heroes #8 issue, Squirrel Girl's first comic! It's interesting to have it reprinted here since the story arc also involved Iron Man.

The cover art gallery features various artists who all seemed to want to have fun with this new Squirrel Girl series, the likes of Skottie Young (!), Art Adams (!!), Joe Quinones, Jill Thompson and Gurihiru. All lovely pieces!

If anything this series really made me realize Squirrel Girl's probably Steve Ditko's 2nd best creation!

Overall, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is a great all-age title!

A really fun series. Marvel's been on a roll lately publishing a lot of great female-centric series (thanks to G. Willow Wilson's Ms. Marvel!). And this book quickly became my all-time favorite. It's both perfect for long-time continuity nerds with all the clever references, jokes and allusions - as well as a perfect new reader-friendly series. And the results show, it's simple really, it's easily Marvel's best-selling and best-reviewed these days!

It's A Must Read! If you honestly can't enjoy this book, you probably take your funny books way too seriously!

Squirrel Girl's biggest and more popular than ever! Since the launch of this series this volume and Squirrel Girl's history have both been getting several reprints. And even Marvel's "soft reboot" following Secret Wars, the All-New Marvel has not stopped this book! And she was now officially made part of an Avengers team, the U.S.Avengers comic (I still find this name really cheesy..).

And who knows, we might be looking at the possibility of a Squirrel Girl movie or live action series thanks to the success of this book. And if that ever comes to pass, just know Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn has shown interest in directing a Squirrel Girl movie (true story!!!). And actress Anna Kendrick has also said she would love to play the role eventually! (Not my first choice, but I could see it..)

I give it:
3 / 3 Howards!

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