Review: Marvel’s The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 2 Beatable Only by Squirrel Girl Vol. 1
Squirrel you know it's true.
Hopefully, all of you who read my review of Marvel’s Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol 1 immediately ran out and got on board the Squirrel Girl train. Doreen Green is one of Marvel’s best characters right now, and you need to join in on her adventures immediately! That said, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol 2: Squirrel You Know It’s True, takes a bit of a dip in storytelling, and is slightly less successful as a collection.
Squirrel You Know It’s True collects Issues 5-8 of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl as well as the GLX-Mas Special #1 (“Egg Nog, Toilet Paper, and Peace on Earth”), The Thing #8 (“Last Hand”), and Age of Heroes #8 (“Nuts to This”), old-school Squirrel Girl stories, written by Dan Slott.
The main Unbeatable Squirrel Girl story begins with Nancy and a group of tourists trapped at the top of the Statue of Liberty as mayhem is going on outside. Squirrel Girl, the Avengers, and some other heroes are out there fighting a giant dinosaur. Which is all Squirrel Girl wants to do. As Nancy and Co. wait for rescue, the tourists regale each other with tall tales of Squirrel Girl’s exploits, each one more outlandish than the last. Nancy has to bite her tongue and not shout out that she knows Squirrel Girl, so she knows none of this is true.
After training a human hippo named Hippo Hippo for job placement and discovering the identities of Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boy (surprise! she already knew them!), Squirrel Girl comes face-to-face with a new hero on the scene. Girl Squirrel! She’s a squirrel, with all the powers of a…girl? It’s a whole thing. Turns out, this new squirrel on the scene isn’t a hero at all! She’s an escaped god-squirrel from Asgard called Ratatoskr who’s here to wreak havoc. Squirrel Girl needs to figure out how to defeat this evil squirrel (which really pisses her off, because she usually loves all squirrels!), and employs the help of some Asgardians – and also Nancy, who revels in the chance to get lived-in material to bring to her Cat Thor fan fic!
Once the story gets into the stuff with Ratatoskr and Asgard, it really picks up steam. Not only is it awesome to watch Squirrel Girl team up with Odinson and Thor, as well as an awesome Loki appearance, but this storyline also gives Nancy a chance to shine. Not only is her fangirling out about Asgard hilarious, but she also gets the chance to be a hero and contribute to taking this squirrel villain down!
However, the story arc was slow to get started. While the idea of having people tell tall tales about Squirrel Girl is cool in theory, we really didn’t need all of those people telling tales. It really did nothing to move the story forward, and kind of gave us an an inorganic story in an issue devoted to simply showing that Nancy can keep a secret. The issue with Hippo Hippo was cute and all, but it also seemed like a rehash of every story in USG Vol. 1: villain starts shit, Squirrel Girl responds by being chatty, there’s a fight, Squirrel Girl basically talks the villain into not being a villain. This is an amazing thing about her, don’t get me wrong. But this is the burden of being Vol. 2 – the novelty of the character and the humor have worn off. Now, the stories have to start getting more creative.
Thankfully, Ryan North continues to be hilarious, and Erica Henderson’s art continues to be an enormous part of why I love this series so much. In fact, the vintage issues that are included in this collection really drove home how important Henderson’s work is in my enjoyment of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. In those vintage stories, it’s clear how much Dan Slott loves this character. It’s palpable, and as we watch Squirrel Girl interact with the Great Lakes Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D, and other heroes (and villains!), she’s as charming and funny as always. However, I was surprised by how much not having Henderson’s art affected me.
Matt Haley’s clearly a talented artist, but his Squirrel Girl in “Egg Nog, Toilet Paper, and Peace on Earth” just has way too many….abs. It was a bit of a shock to see SG drawn like any other female superhero when she’s clearly unlike anyone else. His art tried to shove her in the same mold. Ditto Ty Templeton, who makes sure that SG’s ample bosom is heaving out over her fur costume. Erica Henderson giving us a younger, sturdier, less sexualized, ever-confident Squirrel Girl is a huge part of what makes this character special. And while I’ve always liked Squirrel Girl in the past, I love her now, and I hope that as her title continues, she continues to go against the grain and breaks out of the typical female superhero mold.
That said, if you’re looking for an awesome holiday gift for a comics fan in your life, I’d highly recommend getting them both Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1 and 2 if they’ve never experienced the wonder of Doreen Green.
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