The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #16
Writer: Ryan North with Will Murray
Artist: Erica Henderson with Steve Ditko
Cover Artist: Erica Henderson
Release Date: January 11 2017
Publisher: Marvel Comics
By: Chris Martinez
When I first learned of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl with the powers of both squirrel and girl I shrugged my shoulders and moved on. A few days later my friend whose taste in comics is similar to mine insisted I would enjoy it and he was right, I found myself fully invested in four pages. Yes, Doreen Green has the powers of both squirrel and girl but those are the least of her abilities. She is also intelligent, independent, and extremely capable. Squirrel Girl embodies what I feel is a well-balanced member of society and a positive role model for all. Her instinct is to converse with villains and criminals thinking she can find a peaceful resolution and if they don’t come around then its right in the title, Squirrel Girl is unbeatable. The comic industry and pop culture in general are finally getting to a place of mutual acceptance. A place where we can have lead characters that are allowed to carry their stories with brains instead of bust, it is fantastic.
Ryan North’s super smart writing bounces between funny and heartfelt while the art of Erica Henderson is quirky and engaging. The two work together to create a wholly unique comic book experience. That’s not to say that they’re the first to use some of these devices, they’re just very good at it. An example of this is every issue of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl has a running commentary that lines the bottom of each page, these thoughts can be anyone’s from the author to a squirrel. Another page will read ‘Heist Planning Montage Sequence – Play cool heist planning music while reading this page to full effect’. You never know when they’re going to hit us with something new or simply a van pun. Kraven drives the Kra-van, it’s amazing. This book truly manages to hold on to a one of a kind voice all the while retaining a core theme that we’ve already seen countless times, just be nice and accept people for who they are.
This latest issue just happens to be Squirrel Girl’s 25th anniversary celebration and it offers up some nice treats. The first page shows Doreen’s parents Maureen and Dorian (I know) meeting with subsequent panels of them falling in love and leading to the birth of their daughter. We learn that Doreen was born with her tail and abilities which she was forced to hide from her classmates out of fear because we all know how tolerant the Marvel Universe was twenty years ago. When she was ten years old Doreen befriended a squirrel named Monkey Joe and it was he who inspired her to become a hero. Doreen then designs her first costume in a great panel that features art by renowned co-creator Steve Ditko.
Next the story skips ahead to Doreen’s fifteenth birthday when she fights alongside the Hulk against Abomination. This sequence was written by Squirrel Girl co-creator Will Murray and gives us a good example of how in touch Ryan North is. I have yet to read the early appearances but, if the humor is as evident here as it always was then, North is definitely the right person for the job.
Back to present day and its now Doreen’s twentieth birthday. She is celebrating at a table filled with costumed heroes and the Red Skull blows a whole through the wall. He immediately realizes his mistake but she punches him through the roof then hits him with her tail. Oddly this is one of the few times in the whole series she attacks first. The last page skips ahead another five years to reveal that Squirrel Girl leads the Avengers.
This book’s biggest fault is solely because its mostly flashback. I know that’s harsh but the writing is solid, as usual, and the art is as always beautiful. Overall, I can’t recommend this series enough. If you haven’t read The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl yet do yourself a favor and pick it up. Can’t wait for #17!