Doreen Green has been a staple of Marvel Comics for 25 years at this point. Not a bad run, considering she started as a joke. Created by Will Murray and Steve Ditko as a happy-go-lucky alternative to the dour heroes of the ‘90s. Squirrel Girl debuted in 1991’s “Marvel Super-Heroes Winter Special,” where she teamed up with Iron Man against Doctor Doom. The one-off gag character returned for brief, comedic cameos in comics for years after, and referencing her existence became a running joke in “Deadpool.”
That all changed in 2014, when Marvel made the unlikely announcement of an ongoing “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” series, written by Ryan North with art by Erica Henderson. Off the back of this All-New, All-Different relaunch, she’s joined “The New Avengers,” starred in a YA novel, and is going to be among the core cast of Freeform’s upcoming “New Warriors” TV show, all with a strong comedic streak. Come get to know Doreen and her unique sense of humor better with these 15 funniest Squirrel Girl moments!
15. HER STRANGELY FAMILIAR THEME SONG
Every superhero needs a theme song. A memorable ditty can boost your popularity, and simultaneously introduce newbies to all the key facets of your personality and abilities. The surprise announcement that Squirrel Girl, who until that point was an oddity known only to hardcore fans, would be getting her own solo book necessitated a quick recap on who exactly Doreen Green was. Therefore Marvel released a prologue, which introduced the world not only to the creative team of Erica Henderson and Ryan North, but also their new favorite theme tune. Really, all comic recap pages should be musical.
The song manages to provide a handy oversight of her power set (talking to critters, having a tail), career history and modus operandi. It also had a familiar rhyming structure. Disturbed during a hang out with her long-tailed friend Tippy-Toe, Squirrel Girl makes quick work of a group of crooks while singing her signature theme song, which turns out to follow the same tune as the classic opening titles to the ‘60s “Spider-Man” animated series. All together now: “Squirrel Girl! Squirrel Girl! She’s a human and also a squirrel…”
14. DEFEATING KRAVEN
Kraven the Hunter is one of Spider-Man’s most feared enemies, a big game hunter imbued with mystical powers who is always on the lookout for a new, challenging prey. In “Kraven’s Last Stand” he came closest to any of the web-head’s enemies in putting him down for good, drugging the wall-crawler and burying him alive. All of this ignores the fact that he’s a patently ridiculous figure: a member of the Russian aristocracy whose costume is a pair of cheetah-print orange tights and a jacket made out of a lion’s head.
“The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” is switched on to this inherent ludicrousness, introducing Kraven as the first supervillain Doreen faces in her solo series. Unlike most of her peers, though, Squirrel Girl prefers not to beat her foes into submission. She negotiates, befriends and works out people’s problems. Kraven turns out to be a tough one, since all he wants to do is hunt, and she genuinely, hilariously considers just flinging him up into the air for the rest of her life to keep him out of trouble.
13. BEFRIENDING GALACTUS
Not that Kraven is the only misunderstood villain to receive some rehabilitation in the pages of “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.” A good couple of years before the planet-eater was transformed into a life-giver in the pages of Al Ewing and Kenneth Rocafort’s “The Ultimates,” Doreen hijacked a suit of her buddy Iron Man’s armor to head outside the stratosphere and face up against Galactus, the Fantastic Four villain whose appearance usually leads to a huge, planet-wide panic and the teaming up of every Marvel hero going to beat him back.
Again, beating back isn’t really Squirrel Girl’s style. What she does instead is convince Galactus into letting her find a tasty alternative to consuming the planet Earth like a Thin Mint, getting him to admit that all the people and skyscrapers kind of hurt his mouth. In your average Marvel comic book, an encounter with Galactus ends in some Roland Emmerich-level destruction, cosmic action and an against-the-odds victory. With Squirrel Girl, it ends with a planet made of popcorn and a selfie.
12. BREAKING THE FOURTH WALL IN GLA
There was a somewhat quiet period of downtime for Doreen following her debut, during which she made only fleeting appearances as a one-panel gag or as a super-powered babysitter for Jessica Jones and Luke Cage’s infant daughter. She finally got a consistent full-time gig in the pages of Dan Slott and Paul Pelletier’s relaunched “Great Lakes Avengers” series. If it wasn’t clear by the name, the GLA are a satirical super-team made up of Z-list heroes like Flatman, who can flatten himself…and that’s it.
It’s slightly insulting that Squirrel Girl should be admitted into such an inauspicious fraternity, but she turns out to be more self-aware about how the comics reading audience sees her than her GLA teammates. During the fourth-wall-breaking series, it’s Doreen and squirrel pal Monkey Joe providing the self-referential humour, delivering the recaps at the start of the book and interjecting with lines like “a vigilante operating as an urban myth only works for the first year of continuity, tops.”
11. HER ONLINE DATING DISASTERS
Romance isn’t as important in Doreen Green’s life as eating nuts and kicking, but in “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” #8, she finds out that college study buddy and superhero cohort Chipmunk Hunk has to rush off after a team-up because he has a date. Turns out Doreen has been holding a candle for the Hunk since they bumped into each other during orientation in the first issue, and she’s “SUPER NOT COOL” with this new development. Her college roommate, Nancy the voice of reason, points out that Squirrel Girl at this point has not acted on that crush for a year, and perhaps needs to move on.
To facilitate this, the Squirrel Girl brain trust put their heads together to help Squirrel Girl write an online dating profile. Such a farce has not been seen since a similar story in “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” as Doreen refuses to take the exercise seriously (giving out her secret identity in her draft bio,) the fiercely protective Nancy demands the solving of math problems to secure a date with her pal, and squirrel pal Tippy-Toe struggles to write convincingly as a human being.
10. THE CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN-ADVENTURE ADVENTURE
Besides their upholding of Squirrel Girl’s intended role as a sunny balancing force to the grim-dark side of superhero comic books, Ryan North and Erica Henderson have also pushed their ongoing Doreen Green series into even more daring and innovative directions in which mainstream sequential art has rarely ever even looked into. There was an issue told entirely from the perspective of Nancy’s cat, an enemy defeated using computer code, and, best of all, there was a choose-your-own-adventure issue.
Borrowing the mechanics (and cover design) of the heyday of Bantam Books, “Be the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” is a showcase for Henderson’s impeccable layout and pacing decisions, and North’s singularly silly sense of humor. Naturally, there are decisions you can make which lead to devastating dead ends, once which even the fictional characters acknowledge are the wrong move, and a panel of Howard the Duck sitting on the can while eating a hoagie.
9. THE SQUIRREL SUIT
She’s a member of the “New Avengers” (and now “U.S.Avengers”), she fights crime on her own time, and she’s in the middle of a college course. Doreen Green is awesome, but she’s only one person, you guys! Which is why, after having assembled an armor made of squirrels clamped around her body to deal with a super-strong enemy early on in “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl,” it became a recurrent presence in the book. Turns out, you don’t actually need anybody in the suit.
This is how the squirrel suit has gone about solving crimes, locking up bad guys and receiving plaudits from local community leaders while the actual Squirrel Girl has been off busy doing other things. Those clever little critters. Doreen has outsourced her superhero work on a couple of occasions to her furry friends, including covering for a missing Tony Stark by having a cadre of them scurry into a suit of Iron Man armor in order to give a presentation to stockholders. It…it didn’t go great.
The bovine population is seriously underrepresented in comic books. There was “Batcow,” rescued during a mission by Batman and Damian Wayne’s Robin, who inspired a new vegetarian diet in the young ward. There were the shapeshifting alien Skrulls who the Fantastic Four turned into a group of docile cows, who were then minced into burger meat and fed to unwitting fast food patrons who inherited their powers. And then there was Hellcow, a Steve Gerber and Frank Brunner creation first seen in 1975’s “Giant-Size Man-Thing” #5.
Bessie was just a regular cow living on a Swiss farm, until Dracula came along. Hellcow mostly disappeared from view until “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” #6, which opens with Squirrel Girl describing the character to her long-suffering college dorm mate Nancy, who expresses incredulity at Doreen’s insistence on referring to the vampire cow as “a dracula,” and characterization of the “bell that give you give a cow if you like that cow a lot” around her neck.
7. TAILS OF THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL
She may not have as storied a history as some of Marvel’s A-listers, but Squirrel Girl has been around long enough to have moved through several different incarnations and creative teams, from innocent superhero to comedy character to unbeatable badass who fights for friendship. All these evolutions and plenty more besides are featured in “Tails of the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl,” a pun-tastic one-off story where trapped civilians (including Nancy) share their SG stories.
The “Rashomon”-style group storytelling exercise reveals some notably peculiar reads on Doreen Green. There’s an elderly woman swears up and down that she was a sidekick and possible romantic interest of Captain America back in the ‘60s, a comic book geek who imagines a “Clone Saga” rendered in Todd McFarlane/Erik Larsen artwork, another posits that she’s from the future, and then Nancy puts a stop to things just as a pitch-perfect parody of Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” gets going.
6. NAMING THOR’S ABS
Marvel’s 21st century “Secret Wars” event really shook things up, taking all of their regular series off the stands for a few months and replacing them with weird, wacky and wonderful out-of-continuity tales which allowed creators to do some great stuff that really stretched what superhero comics could be. One of the digressions outside Marvel’s usual purview was a throwback to their romance comics past, albeit starring modern superheroes, in anthology book “Secret Love.”
Borrowing the characterization from North and Green’s revival, Doreen Green appears in Marguerite Bennett and Kris Anka’s “Squirrel Girl Wins a Date With Thor.” It’s one of those does-what-it-says-on-the-tin deals. As a prize for winning the “Annual Supertriathalon for Animal Welfare (Brought To You by Stark Enterprises),” the Odinson takes Doreen to Asgard for an evening of drinking, dancing, and tearing his shirt off to put out a fire and then naming each of his abs individually.
5. REHABILITATING BRAIN DRAIN
Created by writer Roy Thomas and artist Frank Robbins, Brain Drain was a recurring adversary for the World War II-era super-team “The Invaders,” fading into obscurity in the decades since his ‘70s heyday. “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” has never been a book to let a good, forgotten character lay dormant, however, even one with Nazi affiliation. Attacked by a malfunctioning Brain Drain during a lunch date with her mom, Doreen not only defeats the brain-in-a-robot body, she reprograms him.
In the friendly, sunnier world of Squirrel Girl, where getting to know somebody is preferable to physical fights, it’s revealed that Brain Drain was only evil because he was programmed that way. Computer science students Doreen and Nancy rewire him, creating a new member of the burgeoning “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” team. Owing to his logical, mechanical thought processes, though, he is more likely to quote nihilist philosophy during battle than quippy one-liners.
4. M’LADY MOLEMAN
There’s no contest regarding the best comic book cover of 2016: it has to be “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” #10, featuring the subterranean supervillain Mole Man tipping his fedora while a creepy “M’lady…” speech bubble comes out of his smirking, gnarled lips. A shout out to the MRA crowd, the issue continued a storyline where Doreen Green had to not only do battle with yet another classic bad guy, but also with the toxic social concept of the “Nice Guy,” which doesn’t often comic up in Marvel Comics.
A relatively recent coinage, so-called “Nice Guy syndrome” describes the entitled dudes who think that, by being halfway decent, polite and kind to a girl, they’ve basically earned the right to date them. This is exactly how Doreen and Mole Man’s courtship goes. As per usual, she refuses physical combat with the villain, and her interest in his feelings is immediately misinterpreted as a come-on. It’s a remarkably silly story, involving Mole Man threatening to level Manhattan if Squirrel Girl doesn’t go on a date with him, with some serious real-world grounding.
3. DEFEATING DOCTOR DOOM
Before her “Unbeatable” relaunch, if you asked any discerning comic fan what they knew about Squirrel Girl, the answer would invariably be the same: one time, somehow, she managed to defeat Doctor Doom. The Fantastic Four’s arch nemesis came up against Doreen during her very first appearance, and has become one of those hilarious bits of Marvel lore which have persisted despite reboots, retcons and re-imaginings, remaining in continuity to this day and referenced constantly.
It didn’t help Doom much that the final panel of that first “Squirrel Girl” story became something of a meme once the internet took hold, the image of the once-magnificent and feared villain flinging forest animals from his masked visage and bellowing, in his inimitable semi-Shakespearean manner, “Confound these wretched rodents! For every one I fling away, a dozen more vex me!” Murray and Ditko wanted a more light-hearted style of superhero, and they certainly achieved that goal.
2. CAT THOR AND CAT LOKI
The creative team of “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” clearly approve of the creative liberties taken in fan-culture. Ryan North’s “Dinosaur Comics” routinely feature a tyrannosaur dictating Batman and Sherlock Holmes fanfiction, Erica Henderson came up partly through sharing fanart on Tumblr, and cosplay photos frequent the book’s letters page. And then there’s the tacit support offered within the comic itself, with Doreen’s roommate Nancy finding solace in fanfic and drawings.
Refreshingly, Nancy is in no way embarrassed by her transformative works, even when befriending Squirrel Girl means she actually gets to meet some of the subjects she writes, reads and draws. Best of all was an Asgardian adventure where she met the real-deal inspirations of her “Cat Loki” and “Cat Thor” anthropomorphic animal cartoons. The Odinson wasn’t particularly impressed, but his brother immediately got on board, transforming his head into that of a feline to wind Thor up, and it was absolutely wonderful.
1. CHEF BEAR WANTING TO COOK ALFREDO THE CHICKEN
Talking to squirrels is Doreen Green’s main superpower — besides the standard’s heightened speed, strength, agility, and great big bushy tail — and it’s served her well over the years. Whether delivering huge quantities of acorns onto the heads of bad guys or subduing an enemy by swarming them, her furry friends are a force to be reckoned with. Still, what if she could talk to…other animals? That is the question posited by Melissa Morebuck, a wealthy benefactor who made her millions installing chips into animals.
With these chips, she has the ability to talk to animals and consult with quadrupeds. Her house is staffed with animal servants and she offers Doreen the chance to expand her animal vocabulary. But all is not as it seems. The ending of issue #17 reveals that she intends to have her chef, a grizzly bear, cook her supposed chicken friend, Alfredo. What a twist! And, surprisingly, now an ongoing serial on the back page which has been running for several issues, where a bear in an apron chases a panicked chicken across country. Absolute comic genius.
Be sure to tell us in the comments what you think is Squirrel Girl’s funniest scene!
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