Squirrel Girl and Nancy have returned! From SPACE! After all the extra-terrestrial shenanigans, it’s time to catch up on things back on Earth where, thankfully, no giant crimes have been committed in SG’s absence and she and her crew can reunite and get back to business. Or so they think.
Side note: Doreen checking on Twitter that Tony Stark isn’t an AI by putting her responses in Capchas is hysterical. I’m still giggling over it.
In a nod to the voyeurism inherent in today’s culture (those dang criminal kids and their TwitchTubes), SG and the gang work to stop EpicCrimez, a villain who uses that “z” like it was 1997 and posts videos of his crime spree online, asking for subscribers and likes. With a super cool weapon he stole from a spaceship, EC zaps Doreen and Nancy into hyperspeed, forcing them to work on a way back while everyone around them was essentially frozen. While this is a well-worn path (Syfy’s The Magicians did something similar this season), the exploration of how Doreen and Nancy spend their time stuck in hyperspeed is one of the most genuine and loving takes on friendship that has been put into comics in a long, long time.
With notes left tucked into people’s hands, hung from the Brooklyn Bridge, and pinned to Tony Stark’s suit, the two live out an entire lifetime in the space of a weekend in real time. They work to save literally everyone in the city from any sort of calamity, including those who, after realizing that no one would get hurt the entire weekend, began sleeping as they drove to work, or diving purposefully off of buildings in hopes of sweet, sweet upvotes. The two spend weeks, months, and finally, years, working to build a machine to bring them back to real speed and, hopefully, to travel back in time to the moment they were zapped, restoring the years they were losing in these frozen moments.
The two most impactful scenes in the comic were, first, when the team watched canvases appear, disappear, and be repainted over and over again as the duo learned to paint and improved their skill over the “years” while Brian and the rest could only stare in wonder. One painting, however, never changed. One of Doreen and Nancy posing together. This leads me to the second moment that truly moved me. The final moment, when the duo realizes that they must make a final decision about their lives, both the ones they left behind and the ones they created in hyperspeed. The portrayal of true love and friendship shown through Erica Henderson’s art and Ryan North’s dialogue is pure, wonderful, and an inspiration.
This issue of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl takes direct aim at one of the key elements missing from most superhero stories: joy in the everyday. Squirrel Girl is an extension of who we all want to be, including in her relationships with her friends and co-heroes. In the midst of the normal hilarity, North and Henderson have put together a story about friendship and love that both should be incredibly proud of. Where other comics would have a “villain of the week” throw away after such a big space epic series, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl takes them time to deliver a heartfelt and moving issue that should be read and appreciated by all comics fans.