Farewell to Squirrel Girl
All good things must come to an end, and a great one wraps this month with “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” #50.
It’s the finale of my all-time favorite run of comics – 58 issues (including a relaunch) and one magnificent graphic novel, written by Ryan North, drawn primarily by Erica Henderson, with Derek Charm taking over on issue 32, and colored by Rico Renzi.
What follows is my rundown of the greatest moments of a comic that always delivered a clever, laugh-out-loud reading experience. (I wrote this prior to reading the last four issues, which will no doubt contain a few more worthy entries.)
10. Herald of Garfield (“Unbeatable Squirrel Girl” #26)
Perhaps the series’ most offbeat offering was the issue in which Squirrel Girl (nee Doreen Green) enlists her friends to create a zine to raise money for a library. One contributor is the world-devouring Galactus, actually “Garfield” creator Jim Davis drawing North-scripted strips with Galactus in the ravenous cat role and the Silver Surfer as Jon Arbuckle.
9. Defeating the Avengers, off-panel (Vol. 1, #7)
With the Avengers falling victim to a villain sowing seeds of discord, it doesn’t go well when Squirrel Girl and her friends try to get the team’s help. At the end of one page, it appears a fight is about to break out. On the next, “26 seconds later,” Doreen has taken down Spider-Man, Hawkeye, the Black Widow, Falcon/Captain America and an aged Steve Rogers, reinforcing her status as unbeatable.
8. Squirrel Girl beats Galactus (Vol. 1, #4)
North didn’t waste any time pitting Doreen against one of Marvel’s heaviest hitters. Issue 4 opens as she takes a selfie over a seemingly vanquished Galactus. It reveals she did not overpower him but convinced him to dine on another planet, uninhabited except for acorn-laden trees, rather than Earth. Solving antagonists’ problems instead of just fighting would become a hallmark of the series.
7. Striking down Vermin (“New Avengers,” Vol. 4, #16)
As part of Sunspot’s Avengers squad, Squirrel Girl defeats the New Revengers’ rat-controlling Vermin when her squirrel sidekick Tippy Toe convinces his rodent squad to begin a “militant strike action” for better working conditions. Not from North’s run, it’s included because it shows Squirrel Girl’s brand of outside-the-box crimefighting extends beyond the pages of her title.
6. Confronting Kraven’s villainy (#32-35)
In her first issue, Squirrel Girl talked her way out of a fight with Kraven the Hunter, starting an unlikely friendship. He became a recurring character in the series, despite continuing to act like a villain elsewhere. This storyline put that conflict front and center and tested Doreen’s belief in her friend’s underlying goodness.
5. Fun and educational (#11)
In a dream conjured by the villain Nightmare, Doreen uses computer science to defeat Count Nefaria, a villain she knows only by name. Assuming he’s really into counting, she teaches him a binary method that allows her to reach 31 on one hand and 1,023 on two. It’s one of many times North uses computer science principles in-story to terrific effect.
4. Nurturing nature (#43)
Squirrel Girl proves Ultron isn’t just a bad seed when a plant-like remnant of the killer robot she left in her parents’ care is revealed to have grown into a mighty oak that defends her Canadian hometown from invading frost giants. Dor and Maureen Green might just be the greatest comic book parents this side of Ma and Pa Kent.
3. Squirrel Girl owns time travel (Vol. 2 #5)
Trapped in the past and battling Doctor Doom, Squirrel Girl realizes she’s outmatched, so she calls in help … from herself. She goes back to the day before the fight over and over, hiding away to avoid classic time-travel pitfalls and paradoxes, until she has enough girl power to defeat the villain and set history back on track.
2. Friends to the end (#31)
In Henderson’s last issue as the regular artist, Doreen and best pal/roommate Nancy Whitehead (part of a stellar supporting cast) find themselves trapped at hyper speed, unable to interact with the rest of the world in regular time. While searching for a way out of their predicament, they use the situation to constantly protect New York and live to ripe old ages, culminating in an emotional farewell to Henderson and two characters we fortunately get to pick right back up with in the next issue.
1. Squirrel Girl is worthy (“Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe”)
With her doppelganger having done exactly what the title implies, Doreen is trapped in a life-or-death situation. Tippy Toe delivers a weapon to tip the balance: Thor’s hammer. Squirrel Girl joins a short list that also includes Captain America as being worthy to lift the hammer, cementing her status as one of Marvel’s greatest heroes.
Evan Bevins is the writer of the webcomic “Support Group.”