Thanks to Marvel’s recent “Secret Wars” event, this is the second time in 2015 Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” #1 has hit shelves. Fortunately, this second go-round hasn’t lost any of the first series’ charm or silliness, even as Doreen and Nancy go up against a new foe and gain a new classmate.
North makes “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” #1 (and the series in general) work with a strong sense of humor and a distinct style of superheroism. The core super-powered plot of this issue deals with an old and slightly obscure HYDRA villain that Doreen and Nancy find in their building. When you look at it strictly from that angle, it’s somewhat standard. The duo go up against the bad guy, try to save their sidekicks (or, in this case, animal friends) and ultimately find the bad guy’s weakness to defeat him. Because this is “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl,” however, it’s never quite that simple. Similar to the fight against Galactus in the previous series, North takes the need for conflict in a superhero comic and turns it on its head. We learn more about the villain’s motivations, and what starts as a simple takedown transforms into something far more interesting. This isn’t simply a bad guy attacking, and Doreen and Nancy’s ultimate solution on what to do with the defeated enemy is clever and holds some strong possibilities.
At the same time, North doesn’t lose sight of the need for humor; this is, after all, a book where the title hero is named Squirrel Girl. The end result is a nice mix of two different humorous sequences. The part about Doreen being a member of the “New Avengers” cast is suitably silly and deliberately ridiculous, just like the great interactions between Doreen, her mother Maureen and Nancy. Nancy’s reactions to Maureen and her embarrassing stories about Doreen are gold, and they’re the sort of moments you’d find in a top-notch family-themed sitcom. It not only gives our characters some more depth, it’ll make you chuckle, too.
Henderson adds a stripped down, super-simplistic style to the book. The characters seem a little more cartoonish with each issue, and — while that occasionally makes them look a bit flat — it works for series on the whole. It’s at its best when we get moments like Nancy looking dumbfounded when she learns how Doreen got her name; I’d normally be a little irritated at the lack of backgrounds in that sequence, but Henderson’s characters just look so funny here that I don’t think you’d want anything else to distract from their expressions. While the action sequence is short, it’s easy to follow and ultimately works well in that regard.
“The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” #1 is silly as ever; after all, this is a book which manages to give us a sly wink to the fact that mutants are under a different media-rights contract than other Marvel characters in such a brash and ridiculous manner that it spotlights the backflips that Marvel goes through in the films. “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” is consistently fun; North and Henderson have created something suitably silly and well worth your time.