The Many Irreconcilable Definitions of Redemption in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 34

By Spencer Irwin

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

Kraven the Hunter is not only the very first enemy Doreen Green defeated way back when Ryan North and Erica Henderson launched The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, but he’s also the first enemy she reformed. Unlike the other villains whose lives Doreen has helped turn around, Kraven has continued to pop up as a recurring character ever since, allowing the creative team to explore life after redemption and just what, exactly, Kraven looks like as a “good guy.” With this image now firmly in place, North and artist Derek Charm use The Unbeatable Squirrel 34 to muddy and complicate it in fascinatingly complex and nuanced ways. What redemption means for Kraven may not be the same for Doreen, or Spider-Man, or the police, or the people of NYC, and there may simply be no way to reconcile these various viewpoints.  Continue reading

Themes and Team Make for a Dream in Squirrel Girl/Ms. Marvel 1

By Taylor Anderson

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

On paper, the team-up of Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel makes too much sense for it not to happen. Both heroes are young protagonists. Both are second tier Marvel heroes next to the headliner Avengers. And perhaps most importantly, both of their series are strikingly modern and fun. But just because a team-up makes sense in theory doesn’t mean it will really work in practice. Artistic differences and such often derail the best laid team-up issues. Baring this in mind, does Marvel Rising: Squirrel Girl/Ms. Marvel 1 strike gold or strike out? Continue reading

Character Drives the Drama in Marvel Rising Alpha 1

by Drew Baumgartner and Ryan Mogge

Marvel Rising Alpha

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

Drew: For most of my mid-20s, I worked for an academic summer program — basically, summer camp for nerds. As with most work with youth, the job was both rewarding and frustrating, with unexpected problems often interrupting the flow of what we might imagine a “normal” day to be. Indeed, those unexpected problems came up so regularly, that my boss’s regular refrain was “don’t let the urgent crowd out the important” — that is, don’t forget the part of the job that isn’t putting out fires. It’s straightforward advice, insisting that every part of the job is important, but I think it’s particularly salient when dealing with kids — you don’t want the loudest, most poorly-behaved students to command all of the attention, as the quiet, well-behaved students might be struggling just as much. It’s a hard balance to strike, especially for the college-aged students we hired as instructors, so I understand exactly why Doreen Green makes the missteps she does in Marvel Rising: Alpha 1. Continue reading

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 32: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson and Michael DeLaney

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 32

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

Taylor: Usually when I go to work, I wear contact lenses instead of glasses. Generally, that’s a decision I make based on comfort, or more accurately, on how late I wake up that morning. This being so, people at work don’t see me in my glasses that often and frequently express surprise that I’m bespectacled. My students think it’s hilarious to lovingly (I think) mock me by calling me “Professor Anderson” in their best nerd voice when they see my Clark Kent look. This just shows that superficial changes to one’s appearance often lead to you being seen differently, and the same can be said of comics. Being a visual medium, how things look matters. And when that look changes, it’s a total gambit as to whether it works or not. Continue reading

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 30: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson and Patrick Ehlers

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

Taylor: A couple days ago, Erica Henderson announced on Twitter that she would be stepping away from artistic duties on the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. For fans of the comic, particularly those who have been reading it from the beginning, this comes as crushing news, which is only moderately softened by knowing Henderson is stepping down of her own accord. While that makes the situation a bit easier to swallow it’s still is weird to consider a Squirrel Girl comic not drawn by Henderson. Luckily, there are still a few issues left to appreciate Henderson’s artwork and the 30th issue provides a great example of why she’ll be missed so much. Continue reading

Friends Start as Foes in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 29

by Taylor Anderson

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

Back when the first Avengers movie came out, audiences were thrilled to see a fight between Thor and Iron Man. Fast-forward to last year, and many of the same audiences were similarly thrilled to see Thor fight the Hulk. That audiences love to see heroes fight each other is nothing new. There’s a very specific reason why people enjoy fights between comic book protagonists so much: it’s essentially a cinematic version of arguments comic book nerds have been having for ages — “who would win in a fight?” And truthfully, it isn’t only comic book fans who have been asking this question. Comic book creators have been discussing the question in issues for decades now. This debate continues in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 29, only now it’s accompanied by Ryan North’s distinctive humor and irony. Continue reading

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 28 Piles on the Grifts

by Drew Baumgartner

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 28

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

Loki stories are fun — and have been for literal millennia — because of the dynamic way storytellers let us in on his tricks. Sometimes, we’re only tipped off to the trick after the fact, allowing us to be fooled along with his audience. In other cases, we get to be “in” on the trick, effectively seeing it from his perspective. Or our perspective can shift at any point, allowing us to be fooled for a time before revealing the trick to us halfway through, introducing that bit of dramatic irony that makes trickster stories so fun. Ryan North and Erica Henderson understand the fun of all of those approaches, and mix and match them to glorious effect in Squirrel Girl 28. Continue reading

Avengers 675: Discussion

by Drew Baumgartner and Michael DeLaney

Avengers 675

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

Drew: The Marvel Universe is big. That much is clear from the very beginning of Avengers 675, which skips across the globe to catch up with Marvel’s countless superhero teams and fictional countries as they deal with the Earth suddenly being transported…somewhere. Characters helpfully repeat each other’s names (and the names of their respective teams) to orient us, but being overwhelmed is kind of the point — these characters are facing down utter chaos, and that chaos is everywhere. Crossover events will often feature these kinds of “cash in all the chips” moments, straining our familiarity with Marvel’s lesser-known characters to really sell the massive scope of the story. But that’s where this issue differs from the standard crossover; where other stories simply revel in the bombast of throwing all of these characters together, Avengers 675 uses it as a cover to inject a new character into the narrative. [Phew, are there SPOILERS to follow.]  Continue reading

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 27: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson and Ryan Mogge

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

Taylor: I’ve had this misconception for a long time now that Squirrel Girl is somehow not connected to the Marvel Universe at large. This almost certainly stems from Squirrel Girl being a comedic title that tonally doesn’t match the rest of the Marvel Universe (save for maybe Deadpool) and which often portrays superheroes as being goofy and inept rather than noble saviors of the planet. However, no matter how unique Squirrel Girl may be amongst Marvel titles, it’s still part of the universe just as much as any other comic, which is a fact made obvious in issue 27. Continue reading

Epistolary Irreverence in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 26

by Drew Baumgartner

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 26

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

The provenance of epistolary texts are always weird. Actually, it’s probably less weird than traditional narratives, where we might somehow be privy to the private thoughts of the protagonist or even the perspective of an omniscient narrator, but epistolary texts necessarily draw our attention to the weirdness in a way that more traditional narratives don’t. Because we’re reading documents composed within the diegesis of the epistolary narrative, the ostensible writer of those documents are a character, even as the actual writer attempts to become invisible. That tension, between our hyperawareness of the fictional author, and purported obliviousness of the actual author, puts epistolary narratives in this weird netherworld of headspace, embracing the self-awareness of postmodernism in an attempt to produce an entirely un-self-aware story. It’s a concept that already folds in on itself, but writer Ryan North adds a few more wrinkles, confusing the notion of self-awareness enough that the confusion starts to be to point. Continue reading