Discussion and Respect at the Center of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 23

by Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 23 ends with Doreen in the clutches of a robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex, but the most important plot points involve discussion. It’s not quite My Dinner with Andre. We also get an explanation of the problem in the Savage Lands, a couple of montages, and the aforementioned robot T-Rex. Even so, the most important moments happen as Nancy talks it out with Stefan and then talks out that conversation with Doreen. Ryan North and Erica Henderson elevate these conversations by applying real caring between the characters and creating visual interest during these conversations. Continue reading

Making the Set Up a Joy in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 22

by Ryan Mogge

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

When you need to get a group of characters to a strange location in order for a story to begin, the first act can be a slog. A savvy reader knows that all is not likely what it seems. Therefore, when a character gets a letter from an uncle they never met or when our heroes win a vague contest which offers a trip to a mysterious place as a prize, it can feel like a stall before the real story begins. Ryan North and Erica Henderson are able to avoid those pitfalls in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 22 by capitalizing on humanity’s love for dinosaurs. Continue reading

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 20

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 20, originally released May 17th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.

Winston Churchill

Drew: We like to think that the truth in an unstoppable force, that its discovery is inevitable. It’s a comforting thought, and may very well be true over the long-run, but heaven knows it can be effectively obfuscated in the short term. This is exactly what Doreen finds herself up against in the depressingly timely Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 20, as Melissa Morbeck attempts to frame her for her own crimes. Ryan North and Erica Henderson pack the issue with enough parallels to the 2016 election to make the familiarity sting, but manage to keep it just as packed with jokes, maintaining their distinctive levity, even as things look their bleakest.

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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 16

unbeatable-squirrel-girl-16

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 16, originally released January 11th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: Part of Marvel’s brand is using vague, subjectively defined adjectives in the titles of their comics. Words like “Amazing,” “Astonishing,” or “Totally Awesome” don’t hold any absolute value, so ultimately don’t really mean anything. “Unbeatable” is different. “Unbeatable” is absolute. What’s “Totally Awesome” today may not be tomorrow (and vice versa), but whether a thing can or cannot be beaten is timeless in its objectivity. In this way, Squirrel Girl’s defining quality stretches across time, meaning we’ll always be able to recognize her, whether we’re looking into the past or the future. That idea is at the heart of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 16, an anniversary issue that reminds us that, whatever life throws at Doreen Green, she can always beat it. Continue reading

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 15

unbeatable-squirrel-girl-15

Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 15, originally released December 14th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: Looking back at Matt Fraction and David Aja’s run on Hawkeye, it’s hard to pick out a single, best issue. But press any comic reader hard enough and they’ll probably say that #11, the famous “Pizza Dog” issue, stands apart as particularly good. If you haven’t read it, the premise of the issue is fairly simple: what’s a day in the life of Clint’s dog, Lucky, like? It turns out that question is far more complex than it would seem, as Fraction and Aja use revelatory methods to show what it’s like to experience the world from the point of view of a dog. Taking it’s queues from this modern classic, Squirrel Girl 15 aka the Unbeatable Mew shows us what it’s like to experience the world not from the point of view of a hound, but from man’s other best friend, a cat.

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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 5

unbeatable squirrel girl 5

Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 5, originally released February 24th, 2016.

Spencer: I grew up on shonen anime, so “the power of friendship” has been a beloved trope in my life for as long as I can remember. It’s nice, then, to find an American comic so willing to embrace the idea; the power of friendship is so engrained into The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl‘s DNA that sometimes that friendship even comes in the form of Squirrel Girl’s time-displaced counterparts! Yeah, this issue is a zany romp full of complicated time travel shenanigans, but its heart beats with the same moral that has come to define this series: that victory is achieved, not through violence, but by reaching out to, and learning from, others. Continue reading

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 4

squirrel girl 4

Today, Spencer and Taylor are discussing The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 4, originally released January 27th, 2016.

Spencer: What does it mean to be “unbeatable?” When Squirrel Girl was mainly a joke character, it meant that she could take down any opponent in combat, albeit always off-panel. While Ryan North and Erica Henderson’s take on Doreen still has extraordinary physical prowess, her victories under their pens have instead come from a place of compassion, understanding, and compromise; Squirrel Girl’s “unbeatable” because she always finds a way to appeal to and appease the humanity of any opponent she faces. It makes sense, then, that Doctor Doom is the first enemy to truly flummox Doreen. How is she supposed to defeat someone with no humanity to appeal to? Continue reading

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 8

squirrel girl 8

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 8, originally released August 12th, 2015.

Taylor: I recently watched a video of a man who walked, without any safety harness, across a rope suspended 1,000 feet in the air. It’s an impressive feat, if not in bravery, then at least in balance. One wrong move, too much weight to one side, and that guy becomes a smear on the ground. In this case balance is obviously important, but for me it highlights how balance is important in almost everything do. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 8 similarly reminds that balance is important in a different way. Keeping in perfect equilibrium the nuttiness of Squirrel Girl and the gravitas of Thor, this issue expertly walks a fine line between comedy and adventure. And while it might not be nearly as breathtaking as slack-lining, it’s every bit as impressive.

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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 6

squirrel girl 6

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 6, originally released June 3rd, 2015.

Drew: Hero punches bad guy. Bad guy goes to jail. Hero winks at the camera. It’s an ending we’ve seen a million times, but after 6 issues, its clear that Unbeatable Squirrel Girl will never be quite so rote. That’s not to say that Doreen isn’t perfectly capable of punching bad guys (or winking at the camera), just that she may be more open to alternative solutions to her problems. It’s an approach that is surprisingly rare in the world of superhero comics, but makes perfect sense when you look at her character sheet: talking is one of her superpowers. Sure, the remarkable part of that power may be that she can talk to squirrels, but honestly, conversation powers are rare enough when it comes to superheroes to forgive the generalization. This issue reminds us of why that power is so key to who Doreen is, then pushes beyond it to show us what else makes her so special. Continue reading

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 4

squirrel girl 4

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 4, originally released April 22nd, 2015.

Patrick: Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab (of Community fame) have a little pet project in L.A. called Channel 101. It’s a sort of DIY 5-minute-TV show festival/competition that takes place once a month at the Downtown Independent Theatre. It’s pretty cool, and the shows that come out of it can really run the gamut from brilliant to moronic, from sharp and professional to shaggy as hell. It’s an intense artistic environment, and the sense of community surrounding every showing is palpable. I was introduced to Channel 101 by our very own Scott Baumgartner, and the two of us (and my co-editor Drew) attended one of their events in December of 2012. As it was the end of the year, we weren’t going to just another screening but the end-of-year award ceremony called “The Channies.” It was still a fun time, but 90% of what occurred on that stage, and on that screen, played against everyone’s expectations for a Channel 101 event. It worked like gangbusters on the crowd, most of whom had been submitting shows to the competition for years. With the conventions and expectations of a Channel 101 show so well understood, the award show’s producers were able to crank out one well of a subversive experiences — even if it was 70% lost on me and Drew. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 4 takes our shared expectations for comic books and flips them all on their head, pitching Squirrel Girl herself as Queen of Subversion. Continue reading