“Errr why are you reading that?” was added to my list of derogatory comments that are frequently hailed at me whilst I read comics. I simply replied, “because it is the best comic out this week”. As a perplexed glance looked back at me, I then realised the worth of a frankly nutty comic. You look at its place in the comic realms and try to find a nice little squirrel hole to fit it into, and it’s damn hard search. That is because comics like the unbeatable Squirrel Girl are quite surreal and ridiculous when compared to mainstream comic lines. I often wonder whether it is the fitting in part, in general or within comics that prevents people from either picking this book up or truly enjoying it. There is quite an easy answer to these questions but that relies heavily on it being a comic directed towards young teenagers. But you would be wrong because it is not a comic for kids, not for adolescents or even adults because it is a comic for everyone. If you cannot enjoy this comic then it is the reader that has lost their ability to unashamedly laugh, and that has nothing to do with the creators of the book. I am even writing this review to tell you to go out and buy something that you really would not imagine enjoying, and to let go of misconceptions you probably don’t even know you have.
Ryan North’s dedication to the joke is so wholehearted that even the opening page, the recap “in a nutshell”, features real tweets between Galactus, Tony Stark and Squirrel Girl. Not only are these amusing, especially Galactus reflecting on his grand plan reveals, but they can actually be found in Twitter itself. The letters page is actually located on the third and fourth page of the book, because Ryan North wants you to believe that Squirrel Girl has actually defeated Galactus. The innovation of storytelling is at its height, especially when it comes to being humorous. And all credit to North for persisting with his page footer commentary, which can become a little arduous to continue devoting attention to. However it does pay off in time and is well worth the extra time. Amazingly I have only just described the opening two pages.
The concept of the book is that Doreen has enrolled as a first year computer science course at college. Whilst confronting various shenanigans she notices that Galactus is coming towards Earth, once again. She consults her Deadpool’s Guide to Supervillains and decides to steal an Iron Man armour to challenge him, in space. This issue recaps the events of said confrontation. Doreen may have the powers of a Squirrel but she has the determination and gusto of any hero inprint today. It isn’t her petulance and pluckiness that makes her so adorable but her fearless quick wit. You would never see any hero argue the toss about the use of gender equality pronouns with a world eater anywhere else. The writing is succinct and sharp, giving very plausible explanations to the events of the book. As much is the absurdity of Doreen confronting such an impossible foe, North does not denigrate Galactus in any way. The concept is what is difficult to wrap your head around, but once you accept it then the plot actually makes a great deal of sense. Not only that, but witty repartees such as Squirrel Girl calling Thanos a hipster and Galactus arguing the flaws of a herald, are so refreshing and incredibly funny.
It is not just the dialogue that the humour builds around but also the impressively comedic art. Erica Henderson employs a range of expressions, which is quite difficult given the squirrel like features she has to work with. Doreen wears her frustrations on her face as her eyes tweak inward and her top lip curls revealing a cute pair of incisors. Her rodent like nose twitches with emphasis lines when required and her eyes gape open in sheer delight. There are some wonderful panels framed perfectly and lit impressively. The opening page is a good example of this as Doreen sits of her foe and takes a selfie with the light of the phone lighting up his face. The most exceptional page however is the silhouette appearance of Doreen and Galactus sitting and watching the Earth spin. The way Erica highlights the big guy’s outfit as a silhouette is so wonderful to look at. The colours are vibrant and bright and are exactly as you would want from a light hearted and amusing story.
So the real question is, will you allow yourself to enjoy this comic? If you like the shenanigans of Deadpool with a constant breaking the fourth wall narrative then you will definitely enjoy reading about Doreen Green. The level of farcicality is no different except for the lesser degree of violence, and just because she has the power of a squirrel does not make her any less of a hero than a man wrapped in hideous scars. Though making a joke about tucking in your tail and looking like you have a great butt should win anyone over. What really needs to be appreciated with the comic is the wonderfully fluid story, filled with well-structured jokes, drawn with great vigour and emotion. There are few comics that have made me laugh out loud more than this one, and none ever that have made me fall for a squirrel with the power of a girl.
“Call me if you ever want to get into heralding”
Sounds like a fun series and I’ve always liked Squirrel Girl. I’d say that the main thing that makes me a little wary is actually the art. It’s really not my style, but the rest of the comic looks good. I’ll keep a lookout for it once the library gets the trade.
For sure! I can appreciate that but it does work very well with the humour and tone of the writing.