Hot take: Squirrel Girl is a different type of hero from nearly everyone who dons a cape or wears a mask in any universe. Her motivations are genuine and pure, something missing from both the real world and the world of comic book heroes. Even Tony Stark, the first hero she met in her first ever appearance, questions the motivations of others, ever wary of inevitable betrayal. Squirrel Girl just has never had that particular hang up about anyone. From Kraven the Hunter to Galactus, she seeks the good in everyone around her and just makes them better people. Forget having the powers of both a squirrel and a girl, that is her super power. Doreen Green has always and will always make those around her want to be better.
In The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #40, writer Ryan North brings Doreen to the forefront of a potential Earth-shaking battle with the Skrulls, the shape-shifting warrior race currently hyping up the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A young Skrull has deserted the Skrull military, hiding on Earth as a light pole and, later, a squirrel, to avoid confrontation with the humans she sees and their prejudice against both her own people and Earth-born mutants. After meeting Squirrel Girl and her pal Nancy, the Skrull, G’illian, decides to try and be human. On top of being a Skrull shape-shifter, she also is a mutant who can reshape her body into everyday objects, like a more creative Reed Richards. Her final move was to fake Squirrel Girl’s death, not in an evil way, but in hopes of convincing the Skrulls watching Earth that she had been killed so that they would not come back and try again to destroy the planet.
On top of the great story involving the Skrulls, mystery, mayhem, and malarky, the secondary antagonist for Doreen is her first super pal, Tony Stark. Tony has really good reason to not trust Skrulls after being replaced by them leading into the Secret War. It is his practicality that comes to a head against Doreen’s implacable optimism. Her plans are childish in their complexity and sincere in every way, but they are risky, trusting in the goodness of others to succeed. Somehow, she is very nearly always right. If anyone else stood up to Tony Stark, he would not budge. He didn’t budge for Captain America. For Squirrel Girl, however, Tony will listen.
Artist Derek Charm will be joined in the upcoming issue #42 (the 50th issue of USG) by previous USG artist Erica Henderson. Charm truly has cemented his version of Squirrel Girl, diverging quite drastically from Henderson’s style since he took over the reigns. His amazing double-page splash of a fight between Skrulls and the OG Avengers adds incredible action to the issue. His clarity of design lends itself so well to Squirrel Girl’s aesthetic, I can easily see it converted to an animated series considering the popularity of both the comic and Marvel Rising.
As someone who loves stories about truly good people working to help others, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is always a hard yes. Every time my kids ask me what superhero I want to be, I say Captain America. That’s not entirely true, though. Most days, I wish I could have Doreen’s powers, her enthusiastic joy, and her faith in others. When I grow up, I want to be Squirrel Girl.