The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Volume 1: Squirrel Power

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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Volume 1: Squirrel Power Cover Image
By Ryan North (Text by (Art/Photo Books)), Erica Henderson (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780785197027
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Marvel Comics - September 1st, 2015

This book was so much fun! With four decades of comics reading under my belt, this book is exactly what I am looking for in a graphic novel: an optimistic hero, a dash (strong dash) of silliness, and world saving adventures.

As a parent of daughters I also find it a consistent annoyance that so many female superheroes are portrayed in such a questionable manner. I’ve lost count of the number of team books with bulky male heroes clad in head to toe armor, while the wispy female heroes often seem to place cleavage and bare legs at the top of their costume must have list. So having Squirrel Girl be a strong lead, with a realistic costume and body proportions is a real plus. It is nice to have an entertaining comic I can share with my young daughter without qualms. The book reprints the first four issues of the comic book series and includes the letters pages from the comics. Normally this would strike me as annoying filler, but Squirrel Girl is such a revolutionary, affirming character that in this instance it is enjoyable to share in the excitement of other readers discovering the series and building a community.

The book abounds in novel ideas. That necessary recap of the previous issue that comics can’t seem to escape? Done here as a series of tweets that are so fun I would miss them if recaps were deemed unnecessary.

Additionally, any comic book, whether it is technically a solo title or not, is essentially a team book—a good supporting cast makes or breaks a book with a fringe lead. This book is off to a good start with SG’s roommate Nancy Whitehead. Nancy is a well-written, quirky, not-quite-everyman. She provides a fine snarky counterbalance to Squirrel Girl’s naïve optimism.

This book is tied into Marvel Comics regular continuity. This is a plus and a minus. As a long-time comics reader I love the way the author is playing with the Marvel Universe here with a unique but faithful rendering. After this arc I will never look at Galactus the same again. It took a character I didn’t previously care much about and really redefined him in a way I supremely enjoyed. However, this book tosses three long-time Marvel villains into the mix, all of whom have fairly significant back-stories. Newer readers, especially younger ones, may be a little confused as to the whos and whats of some of the characters in play. Squirrel Girl would benefit from having some original villains without so much Marvel baggage.

At the end of the day though, I strongly recommend this to anyone who likes some comedy in their comics; readers in search of positive, female leads; and any fan of the Marvel Universe—it is worth a read to see just how much the envelope of existing continuity can be pushed while remaining faithful to decades of comics history. I will definitely read future volumes of this series.