Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Review – Trade Waiter
Maybe the coolest thing that the big two comic companies do is create continuity across a large comic book world. In the DC universe, for example, if Superman picks up and moves a car while fighting Lex Luthor, it’s possible that later that day Bruce Wayne might get stuck in the traffic created by the misplaced car. Dozens of stories drawn and written by a diverse but unified group of authors make for a huge, densely populated world.
And, while some of the main roads of the DC and Marvel universes would be familiar to all moviegoers and children’s Halloween party attendees, cul-de-sacs are inevitable. Less popular characters attract their own devotees. Weird heroes and villains like Dazzler or Stiltman never need to be retired in a world where Batman has been in prime fighting shape for 80 years.
One such weirdo is The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, a confident, optimistic squirrel-human-mutant-chimera with an army of squirrel friends/assistants/mentors. If that sounds to you like a slight or goofy idea for a comic, I agree. The character was introduced in 1991 – and, while that is a long time ago for us, what with Michael Jordan then battling the Lakers for his first championship, in comics, the landscape was set and most of the “good” superhero animals were already taken: Spiderman, Catwoman, Batman, even, deeper cuts like Wolverine had been taken 18 years earlier.
In the story, written by Ryan North and drawn by Erica Henderson, the creators lean into The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl’s goofiness. The character design lacks the clichés common to Superheroes. Squirrel Girl is not overly muscled or part of a creepy sex fantasy (cough, Wonder Woman, cough) she’s a normal looking teen aside from the tail and squirrel teeth. Henderson’s round cartoony style sets the tone for a breezier more fun book.*
The story for this Trade is a fish-out-of-water comedy about a superhero who talks to squirrels, crossed with the traditional supervillain-of-the-week. The superhero is in her first weeks of college. The bad guys are always vaguely insulted at the idea of having to fight a C-list hero. For her own part, Squirrel Girl doesn’t think she’s C-list. She’s a strong female protagonist, not in the boring sense of a bland over-achiever or sensible straight woman. She’s interesting and lovable precisely because she’s not nearly qualified enough to take on the challenges she jumps into headfirst.
But best of all, this comic makes you laugh. In continuity, Squirrel-related heroics lend themselves to wacky adventures – and the jokes play. This is the perfect book for a comic fan to read to a kid, but I’d also recommend this to anyone who wants a funny superhero book with a light tone.
*So many comics are horribly overwrought, it’s enough to drive you to review kids comics.