With the news that Dorreen “Squirrel Girl” Green is going to be the star of her own TV series (along with the New Warriors, of course, but it’s going to be “Squirrel Girl and the New Warriors,” so she gets top billing), it looks like this comic book superhero is going to finish pulling off one of the most amazing rises from comic book limbo to comic book stardom of any superhero character ever.
Squirrel Girl was once the butt of jokes about lame superheroes and now she’s kicking butt as the star of one of Marvel’s most critically acclaimed comic book series (which is reaching a brand-new audience outside of the traditional direct market). Before she completes her rise to TV stardom, as well, here’s all you need to know about the unbeatable hero.
15. SHE DEBUTED IN A STRANGE BOOK
There was a time in the past when a comic book coming out on time was a much bigger deal than it is now. A typical term heard in the old days at Marvel was “the dreaded deadline doom,” which meant that something had to be changed because the book was late. Marvel and DC used to do things that would seem shocking to readers today, like just throwing in reprint stories out of nowhere. Marvel’s eventual solution was the development of the “inventory story,” scripts written (on the rare occasion, even drawn) in case a book was late; that’s when the inventory story would be inserted. Sometimes, these stories would be used even if a book wasn’t late, because Marvel had already paid for the story, so why not use it?
In the 1980s, Marvel even had a special series called “Marvel Fanfare” built on this premise — a whole series of inventory stories or stories that were delayed and thus no longer fit into continuity. When “Marvel Fanfare” ended, it continued as a quarterly series called “Marvel Super-Heroes,” which continued using inventory scripts or sometimes scripts from new writers. This was how Squirrel Girl’s first appearance came to be.
14. SHE AND SPIDER-MAN SHARE A “FATHER”
Squirrel Girl’s debut story wasn’t even promoted on the cover of the issue in which she debuted; instead, the Erik Larsen cover spotlighted Iron Man, who teams up with Squirrel Girl in the issue. Writer Will Murray wrote the script for the issue without any artist involvement, so he was solely responsible for the conceptualization of the character. However, the great Steve Ditko, co-creator of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange, was brought on board and he was the one who designed Squirrel Girl’s distinct look.
Will Murray later reflected, “Tom Morgan was originally going to draw it, but when he dropped out, I requested Ditko and got him. Ditko did a great job in bringing my baby to life. He invented that knuckle spike. It wasn’t in the script. I based Squirrel Girl ironically enough on a long–ago girlfriend who read comics and was into ‘critters’— wild animals of all types. Coincidentally, she was big Ditko fan.”
13. SHE BEAT DOCTOR DOOM
In the Murray/Ditko story in “Marvel Super-Heroes” #8, Squirrel Girl runs into Iron Man while he is running some tests on his armor in the woods. She knew that Stark Enterprises was in town, so she was on her way there to introduce herself to her personal hero, Iron Man, to ask if he would take her on as his partner. He told her that he was not interested in having a new partner, as he was a solo act. While they were talking, she mentioned that she had encountered a supervillain on the way and had attacked him to get ready for her “audition” for Iron Man. That villain? Doctor Doom!
Doom showed up, angry over her attack, and captured Iron Man and Squirrel Girl, taking them into his Doomship, which was flying low to avoid radar detection. He put Iron Man and Squirrel Girl into a death trap, but luckily, the ship was flying so low that it was near enough to the trees in the woods that an army of squirrels flooded into the ship and attacked Doom, forcing him to retreat. Her first appearance and she defeated Doctor Doom! How awesome is that?
12. SHE WAS AN OBJECT LESSON
Longtime Marvel editor Mark Gruenwald knew more about Marvel Comics continuity than nearly anyone and one of his obsession was the notion of the “wasted” character. His theory was that you shouldn’t introduce too many characters into the Marvel Universe, as it would eventually become ridiculous with how many are running around without a purpose. This was the idea behind his creation, the Scourge of the Underworld, who went around killing off supervillains Gruenwald felt were pointless and not going to be used by any writer.
In 1993, Marvel did a special event for their Annuals that year where each one would introduce a brand-new character. While discussing the new characters, Gruenwald explained how he didn’t want these characters to be like Squirrel Girl, a character who was introduced and was never going to be used again. So she just adds to their list of characters without helping the universe. So yes, Squirrel Girl was once a lesson in what not to do with a character (it’s important to note that Gruenwald personally liked her as a character, he just thought she was never going to be used, so she was wasted)!
While Gruenwald was ultimately proven wrong, for the rest of the 1990s, he certainly was proven correct. After her mention in that aforementioned article about the 1993 Marvel Annuals, she did not appear again in a comic book for the rest of the 1990s and well into the 21st Century, as well. Her lone appearance was in, of all places, a trading card set! Back in the 1990s, superhero trading cards were very popular. They were so popular that Marvel actually went out and bought a trading card company of their own, Fleer.
In 1997, Fleer had a subset within their Marvel QFX card set called “Unsung Heroes,” spotlighting obscure characters and Squirrel Girl got a card in the set (along with Leech and Artie and Moonboy and Devil Dinosaur). All the cards in the set, by the way, were drawn by future Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief, Joe Quesada (hence the Q in QFX). Other than this card, Squirrel Girl’s only other “sort of” contribution was that someone joked that Deadpool had Squirrel Girl underpants at one point.
10. GREAT LAKES RETURN
During his run on “Avengers West Coast,” John Byrne introduced a team of misfit superheroes who dubbed themselves the Great Lakes Avengers. Hawkeye and Mockingbird actually took a break from the main Avengers to temporarily try to turn that group into a real superhero team. They eventually gave up. Joe Kelly then used them prominently during his “Deadpool” run, including a bit where they re-named themselves after the Thunderbolts (back when people didn’t know that the Thunderbolts were secretly the Masters of Evil).
In 2005, Dan Slott, Paul Pelletier and Rick Magyar gave the G.L.A. their own miniseries and they gained a new member, Squirrel Girl! In fact, even though she doesn’t officially join until later in the series, she (and her trusted squirrel best friend, Monkey Joe) break the Fourth Wall and narrate the story to the readers in hilarious fashion. This was the series that got Squirrel Girl back into the good graces of comic book fans everywhere. It wasn’t smooth sailing after this, though.
9. SQUIRREL GIRL’S SQUIRRELS
In the original Will Murray/Steve Ditko story, Squirrel Girl mentions one squirrel by name, Monkey Joe. So Slott, Pelletier and Magyar decided that Monkey Joe would be a special squirrel different from the veritable army of squirrels that Squirrel Girl could normally command. He would be her best friend. In fact, one of the best comedic bits were the little “Monkey Joe Says” sections where he comments on the story to the readers. However, Monkey Joe was tragically murdered by what appeared to be a revenge-seeking Doctor Doom in that first “G.L.A” miniseries (though it turned out to be a former member of the Great Lakes Avengers named Leather Boy).
Monkey Joe was then succeeded by a new squirrel companion (it is sort of like how Doctor Who always has a Companion) named Tippy Toe. Besides being a female squirrel (complete with a pink bow), there is no real difference between Monkey Joe and Tippy Toe, as they perform the same basic role (breaking the Fourth Wall and commenting on the stories). Tippy Toe is still around today.
8. EATS NUTS, KICKS BUTTS
Right from the beginning, the fact that Squirrel Girl defeated a major bad guy like Doctor Doom was a sizeable part of what people knew about her. She might have been an obscure character, but she was an obscure character who defeated a guy that Spider-Man hasn’t even really been able to defeat over the years! And Spider-Man once beat up a former Herald of Galactus! Therefore, when Dan Slott began using her as a member of the Great Lakes Avengers, he began to play around with that idea by having Squirrel Girl routinely defeat powerful villains.
Not only that, but Slott would also go a bit further with the joke, and also address the way that comic book fans like to write off the particularly bad defeats that prominent villains suffered as being a clone or a robot substitute. Doctor Doom and his “Doom-bots” have seen recurrent uses of this approach, as has Thanos and his Thanos clones, so Slott had the Watcher state that it was the real Thanos. Then, to further the gag, in an issue of “She-Hulk,” Slott revealed that Thanos had created a clone so good that not even the Watcher could tell the difference!
7. LOVE AND THE YOUNG SUPERHERO
In the 2006 one-shot, “I (Heart) Marvel: Masked Intentions,” writer Fabian Nicieza (who had co-written a few “Great Lakes Avengers” stories with Dan Slott by this point) revealed that Squirrel Girl had a crush on Speedball from the New Warriors, a fact that almost certainly will come into play on the new “Squirrel Girl and the New Warriors” television series. Through some machinations of Tippy-Toe, Speedball was clued in on her crush and proceeded to give her her first kiss.
When Speedball then was involved in a deadly explosion during a fight with supervillains that led to “Civil War,” he felt so guilty that he began wearing a costume that was filled with spikes that would constantly puncture his skin. Squirrel Girl, as a hilarious stand-in for the comic book readers who found that idea silly, explained to her crush that what he was doing was ridiculous. It didn’t work (at first). Luckily, he eventually came to his senses and ditched the armor.
6. SHE OUTGREW THE G.L.A.
A problem with Squirrel Girl on the Great Lakes Avengers is that the gag about her being able to beat powerful supervillains somewhat clashed with their gag of being a down on their luck group of superheroes. While obviously it was all intended as a joke anyway, it didn’t make a lot of sense that a team that had a member that could beat up Thanos would not be a more prominent super-group in the Marvel Universe.
By this point in time, Squirrel Girl and the Great Lakes Avengers had actually already registered with the United States Government (due to the whole “Civil War” deal about superheroes having to register with the government or be arrested) and had become the Great Lakes Initiative. Norman Osborn then took control of the country’s superheroes during “Dark Reign.” Eventually, Osborn was deposed (he tried to invade Asgard without the President’s permission) and the heroes of the world united again. At this point in time, Squirrel Girl quit the Great Lakes Avengers because she felt that she was overshadowing them.
5. SQUIRREL GIRL: SUPER NANNY
Now that the New Avengers were no longer on the run and back to living in Avengers Mansion (which Luke Cage bought for a dollar), Luke Cage and his wife, Jessica Jones, finally had the opportunity to hire a nanny for their daughter, Danielle. The problem was, though, that they had already lost their daughter once during “Secret Invasion” when a Skrull impersonating Edwin Jarvis had kidnapped her. Cage had even had to cut a deal with Norman Osborn to get her back! So, they needed a super-powered nanny. Fans suggested Squirrel Girl in great numbers, so writer Brian Michael Bendis had them hire Squirrel Girl.
For the next few years, Squirrel Girl would appear regularly, but only in context of being Danielle’s nanny. She really didn’t have adventures of her own, outside of her spotlight issue during “Fear Itself” where she showed her stuff in protecting her charge from an invasion of evil Nazi robots.
4. HER WEIRD SITUATION WITH WOLVERINE
When Squirrel Girl took the job as Luke and Jessica’s nanny, she was surprised to find out that Wolverine was on the same Avengers team as them. When they saw each other, it was not only super awkward, but Squirrel Girl knew Wolverine’s real name, James. It certainly gave off the impression that she and Wolverine had been in a prior romantic relationship. That would be kind of strange, considering Squirrel Girl was a teenager now, so if they had a fling in the past, well, that would be pretty creepy.
However, they never specifically stated that their relationship was a romantic one. Wolverine is well known for his close friendships with young female superheroes, after all (Jubilee, Kitty Pryde, Armor, etc.). In one issue, Squirrel Girl and Wolverine sparred with each other and Squirrel Girl won (through her use of her squirrel friends). Making things creepier, though, when the X-Men entered Wolverine’s mind in a “Wolverine” story where he was possessed by a demon, they found a room in his mind with sexual fantasies, and Squirrel Girl was there. Awwwwwkward.
3. SHE BECAME “UNBEATABLE”
Once she was done being Luke and Jessica’s nanny, Squirrel Girl was somehow out of comics for nearly two years before she was given the shot at having her own series, “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl!” Doreen was now enrolling in college in New York City (so maybe she and Wolverine had a legal relationship after all). The series was written by Ryan North and drawn by Erica Henderson and it completely embraced the awesome nature of Squirrel Girl’s personality, as it was offbeat and over-the-top and wonderful.
They also introduced a great supporting cast in the series, with Doreen’s roommate, Nancy, being probably the biggest addition. Her personality plays off of Doreen’s beautifully. Squirrel Girl has also met a pair of awesome animal-themed superheroes who hang out with her — Chipmunk Hunk (who she had a crush on) and Koi Boi. Squirrel Girl’s series was relaunched after “Secret Wars,” but it remained the same awesome series. At one point, a bunch of squirrels piloted a spare Iron Man suit of armor!
2. SHE IS NOW A REAL AVENGER!
Following “Secret Wars,” Squirrel Girl received the biggest statement that she could get about her increased reputation in the superhero community — she was made an official member of the Avengers! Well, a team of Avengers, at least. You see, Sunspot had been recruited into the Avengers when they made a big expansion in membership a few years prior, joining with his best friend, Cannonball. During his time on the Avengers, Sunspot made a big move when he ended up actually deciding to avoid the standard superhero approach and just bought the supervillain group, Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), the evil super-scientist group.
Sunspot then had the group revamped into Avengers Idea Mechanics and set up shop on A.I.M. island, using their scientific genius to help people. He also had his own team of Avengers, including Songbird, Hawkeye (there to spy on them for S.H.I.E.L.D., which they all knew and were okay with), Wiccan, Hulkling and, of course, Squirrel Girl! Doreen had made it!
1. SHE IS A U.S. AVENGER
However, while she was thrilled to be an Avenger, she was less than thrilled about the new moral questions that she had to deal with, especially as being part of a team of heroes built out of a supervillain organization. The divide between her idealism and the pragmatic views of some of her teammates came into focus when Sunspot discovered that S.H.I.E.L.D. had kidnapped the former honorary Avenger, Rick Jones. They wanted to free Rick, but doing so might constitute declaring war on the United States by going up against S.H.I.E.L.D. This was a lot to handle, so when they expressed an unwillingness to do this, Sunspot kicked Squirrel Girl, Wiccan and Hulkling off of the team, but he let them take the name “New Avengers.”
In the end, Squirrel Girl decided that it was more important for her to be around Sunspot to watch him to make sure that he stays on the straight and narrow, so while her other teammates left the team, she rejoined Sunspot as he cut a deal with the United States Government to form American Intelligence Mechanics, as the team is now the U.S. Avengers!
What is your favorite Squirrel Girl moment? Let us know in the comments section!