Yes, it's true that Squirrel Girl's title isn't burning up the sales chart, but a title has rarely had such devoted followers. The letters page shows that the book's audience isn't just a community, it's practically a family. Creators Ryan North and Erica Henderson engage with readers every month, with the letters page often proving as entertaining as the comic itself. Featuring contributions from readers of all ages, it contains far more than standard feedback. Many readers send in photographs filled with squirrel-related goodness, and it's a constant treat to see younger fans proudly showing off their Squirrel Girl collection or dressing up as their favorite hero.
And what is it that these fans find so appealing about Squirrel Girl? There's the fact that her adventures are always consistently enjoyable, but equally important is that Doreen Green is one of the most fully realized Marvel characters - not bad for someone who has been written off by segments of fandom as a 'joke character.' In truth, part of this statement is true. Squirrel Girl's title is often hilarious and filled with jokes, and pun-tastic wordplay, but perhaps of even greater importance is that in a time when many heroes spend their time either fighting each other or wallowing in self pity, Squirrel Girl takes the revolutionary approach of being content with who she is. Quite right too. After all, as the comic's slogan proclaims, she eats nuts and kicks butts.
This trait has always been part of Squirrel Girl's adventures, but was evident from the beginning of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl title in 2014. In the opening pages of the first issue, Squirrel Girl changes into her civilian clothes to begin her new life as a College student. All seems well until she realizes there's one slight problem: the large, furry Squirrel tail that she's sporting. Her response isn't to don a trenchcoat and wallow in misery like The Thing, or to curse her bad luck like Peter Parker. Instead, she simply tucks her tail inside her pants, pleased that she now appears to be a girl with a conspicuously large and conspicuously awesome butt.
A female superhero promoting healthy self-image is undoubtedly a positive thing, but what makes this even better is that Squirrel Girl doesn't act this way in only one area of her life, it's a central part of her whole character. Infamously, she defeated Doctor Doom in her first appearance, and when Dan Slott brought her into the Great Lakes Avengers, this theme of her achieving victories over vastly overpowered foes was cemented as a key element of the character. While immensely frustrating to some fans, what makes this so great is that Squirrel Girl doesn't achieve these victories through excessive force or succumbing to base instincts, she achieves them simply by being herself.
In the first few issues of her ongoing series alone, she defeated Kraven the Hunter, Whiplash and Galactus. Defeated is perhaps the wrong word because there were no epic beat-downs delivered, just a genuine attempt to put herself in the shoes of the 'bad guys.' She doesn't lead with her fists, she listens to the bad guys, assesses their jerkiness, and often resolves the problem by talking and good advice. She not only managed to stop Galactus from eating the Earth but also schooled him in linguistics and dinner etiquette. Reed Richards and his fellow Fantastic Four members should take note.
It's precisely because she is such a decent, honest person that Doreen Green has such a varied supporting cast, made up of fellow heroes, 'reformed' villains and good friends. Squirrel Girl could not be further from the tortured hero archetype, which makes her all the more enjoyable to read about. Of course she has problems and dilemmas to deal with, but more often than not she faces them as she does the world: with an open mind, a big smile and a can-do attitude.
So, will the world, and even comic book readers in general, soon fall for Squirrel Girl's charms and take her to new heights of success? If there's any justice in the world then it will happen one day, leading to a glorious future where movie theaters and school playgrounds are filled with fans role playing as Doreen Green, while the nation's woodland is filled with fans attempting to track down their very own friendly squirrel. And if this doesn't come to pass? Squirrel Girl wouldn't hold a grudge, just another reason why she's the hero that we need.