Written By: Ryan North
Art By: Erica Henderson
Published By: Marvel
I’m starting to wonder if my first true foray into Marvel comics shouldn’t have come from what I can only guess is the obscure, in-joke of the…universe? I believe that’s the right word. Like most, my working knowledge of superheroes primarily comes from the movies and what bits and pieces I scrape together off the Internet. In the case of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (or Doreen Green), I ran across her on Neogaf a few months ago and then forgot all about her until this review copy showed up.
So I’m new to this side of comic books; however, I do understand what “#1” means when it’s plastered on a cover.
First issues are jumping off points and introductions, and that’s pretty much what this issue is from start to finish. There’s even a “Starring!” section at the very bottom of page two, giving us little snapshots of the five characters present, three of which are superheroes, one of which is a talking squirrel, and the last of which is a regular girl and Doreen’s new college roommate.
While we’re promised a big cast of characters, we only follow Doreen, Nancy, and Tippy-Toe (the talking squirrel) around; the other two are regulated to the background and eventually shoved off screen as Doreen and Nancy go to meet Doreen’s parents for lunch.
As far as superhero comics go, there’s less superhero-ing and more sitcom drama built around background information. Also, apparently Doreen isn’t a mutant and that’s super important—I imagine because Fox still owns the movie rights to X-Men and those are mutants, leaving Marvel with non-mutant mutants. It’s all pretty cute, on the whole, and I couldn’t stop hearing a thick Midwestern accent in Maureen’s voice. She just feels like a jolly mom from Michigan!
There’s no real sense of danger to be found anywhere though, but it is a first issue. I also don’t think this series will ever really have “danger” like one expects from a superhero comic. Doreen is The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and “unbeatable” comes with the big implication that she never loses.
Danger doesn’t really fit in with the tone anyways.
As far as jokes go, the comic is amusing. The problem is, even as a first issue and jumping off point, there are still plenty of references to other comics and characters. I get the nod to Deadpool, kind of, but not the others. This might not be an issue for anyone else, but as someone who has no frame of reference for any of this, I was hoping a first issue wouldn’t rely on the big universe as a whole to introduce a new character, even if it mostly involves a few jokes here and there.
Superhero comic books are daunting to outsiders, and this certainly doesn’t help.
On the art front, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl looks alright. The characters are all pretty cute looking, and what little action takes place is fluid and easy to follow. However, the whole thing really looks “comic booky,” if that makes any sense. I’ve been reading comics from Image for so long now, and most of them are really unique; this one looks like how I think all Marvel comic books look.
I’ll be honest, I’m not quite sure how to judge Issue 1 of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl because I don’t entirely know where it’s coming from. It’s hard to tell where the joke ends and an actual story begins, especially given that Doreen is now a New Avenger. She clearly has a bigger part to play than a one-beat joke. But as a one-beat joke, the issue certainly has charm, and I’m willing to follow it a little further to see where it might go.