What’s a young woman to do with her life when she’s got the proportional strength, speed and agility of a squirrel and can speak Squirrelese? Why, go off to Empire State University and study computer science. Such are the life aims of Squirrel Girl, a.k.a. Doreen Green, as Ryan North and Erica Henderson this week bring a new lease of life to one of Marvel’s more oddball super heroines in her first ongoing series.
First, I really want to talk about the art direction that Erica Henderson has gone for in this issue. It’s not that weird realistic look comics often get, as Squirrel Girl has typically been portrayed in the past, and she doesn’t draw Squirrel Girl in an overtly sexual way: Squirrel Girl/Doreen looks like a normal young woman who just happens to have an actual tail and squirrelly teeth. Considering the character designs of a lot of female super heroes, the design of SG/Doreen was a pleasant surprise and really helped me to identify with the character. It also helps to reflect the overall nature of SG/Doreen as being someone who is really approachable and has everyone’s best interests at heart.
Humour and nuts
If there’s one thing, other than Erica’s fantastic art, that you’ll notice in this issue, is the amount of humour that Ryan North has managed to pack into issue one. It’s not a joke a page, but there’s this great level of pacing going on, as SG/Doreen tries to settle into her new life and identity. Ryan really helps to give us a sense of what Squirrel Girl is about without having her state everything, her actions are allowed to speak for her. I would say that the humour on show here is a several steps above what you might normally find in a Spider-Man comic, it’s a bit more thoughtful and includes some nice touches, and goes beyond quippy one liners.
And I’m not sure whether it was in Ryan’s script or Erica doing her thing, but our first look at Doreen’s new dorm room showed a huge appreciation for the kind of audience who’d be interested in reading a comic like this. Touches like this and the overall tone of this first issue make me believe that Marvel are definitely looking to serve readers who don’t fit the usual “big two” demographics.
If you are currently looking for a funny, light hearted series to start reading and don’t want to be bogged down with too much Marvel comics lore and don’t always want a quip per page, then this is a great series to get started with. Squirrel Girl/Doreen Green is a really aspirational character and so fun to read. I’m definitely going to be checking in with issue two once it’s out.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl issue one is out now. Our reviewer bought their own copy.