Now here’s a comic that came out of nowhere for many people, one starring Squirrel Girl of all people.
Count me among the surprised, but you know what? I like the character and I like a fun comedy, which this series is being marketed as, so I’m hoping for something enjoyable. Is it good?
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 (Marvel Comics)
Squirrel Girl has recently reached a decision. She’s going to college to study computer science for her superhero needs. Disguised as Doreen Green, she’ll be lying low and hopefully getting the education she wants. (And not getting into too much partying/college shenanigans along the way) However, even before moving in, she runs into some trouble.
[Insert “Is that a squirrel tail in your backpocket or are you just happy to see me?” variant here.]
The story in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 is pretty simple, but that’s fine for a wacky kid’s comedy. There’s nothing too complicated or deep going on with the narrative and more of a focus on the humor and personality aspects. The problem is that Squirrel Girl feels like it could/should be funnier. There are definitely a lot of situational jokes, silly or odd lines, and visual gags… but they don’t all hit the mark. Sure, I expected the humor to be fairly predictable given the intent of the book — it’s just a little too predictable. Of course, there are exceptions where the jokes are amusing (like Doreen trying to blend in and playing up her hero status), but I would say around 60% of the jokes don’t hit as well as they could.
Character-wise, the book is alright as well. Squirrel Girl is established very well in her first outing, and new readers should be able to easily understand what kind of character she is/her set of powers. Squirrel Girl is shown as being a bit naive and dumb in areas but overall she is competent, able to think quickly on her feet and has a good sense of justice. The second main character is Tippy-Toe, Doreen’s squirrel friend, who plays more of the straight man (or straight squirrel) to Doreen’s silliness and is at times, the voice of reason. Not much to him, but he does his job well. As for the rest, there’s not much to say since they don’t make much of an impression, like Tomas or Nancy.
Overall, Ryan North’s writing is perfectly fine and does its job. The pacing, storytelling and dialogue are all fine for the most part and as a comic meant for a younger audience, there’s nothing objectionable humor-wise, so if you were wondering if Squirrel Girl’s considerable powers would make this book unsafe for your children, worry not.
The artwork by Erica Henderson is solid also, with well-structured, smooth-flowing layouts. The coloring by Rico Renzi is fine as well. My only gripe is that there are several panels throughout the book with plain white backgrounds that are a bit dull looking. Henderson does a decent job depicting facial expressions, movement and emotion with the characters, though her rendition of Squirrel Girl looks a bit off: she doesn’t look like Squirrel Girl that much with the hairstyle, face, and physical stature. Isn’t Squirrel Girl supposed to be of college age in the current Marvel Universe? Here, she looks way, way older. It could be just the style (since frankly all of the superheroes shown on the cover look off as well), but the character doesn’t look all that right.
Is It Good?
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 is a perfectly okay book. It works well for its target demographic of young kids with its sense of humor, colorful visuals, and loveable main character. However, it’s hard to recommend for an older crowd since the humor is hit or miss, there’s not much to the story or cast, and the art style takes some getting used to. If you got a young kid interested in comics, get them this. For yourself, probably not going to do that much for you unless you a huge fan of the character.