Defusing the Tension in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 38

By Drew Baumgartner

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 38

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

You guys, I love The Thing. That’s the John Carpenter movie, not Ben Grimm (though he’s cool, too). I’m a sucker for parlor mysteries in general, but the thought that “the killer” might actually be an imposter adds room for extra little twists that make the mysteries more mysterious and the tension more tense. Ryan North and Derek Charm play with this concept in the opening scene of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 38, as Doreen and her computationally-minded friends devise a perfectly logical means of verifying everyone’s true identity. In Squirrel Girl’s world, there’s no white-knuckle blood-test scene, just the shortest route to diffusing that tension. It’s a choice North and Charm make throughout the issue, and while it sounds like it would rob the scenes of drama, it actually helps keep the pace moving along at a dizzying clip. Continue reading

How The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 37 Hides Everything in Plain Sight

By Drew Baumgartner

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 37

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

Doreen Green’s honesty is a key part of her character. It allows her to find nonviolent solutions to so many of her conflicts, helping her adversaries find a better path forward. But it also means she’s not great at subterfuge. It’s a weakness that Ryan North and Derek Charm lean into hilariously, as Doreen and Nancy don some truly absurd costumes in order to infiltrate Squirrel Girl’s own funeral.

Bass Lass and Fish Miss

As silly as these costumes are, they also reinforce Doreen’s natural honesty — she’s simply incapable of selling a lie convincingly. It’s a philosophy that North and Charm use to inform the whole aesthetic of the series, which tends to overshare and lampshade niggling details we might have otherwise overlooked. But unlike Doreen’s compulsive honesty, North and Charm can use our trust against us, landing a thrilling twist in this issue’s final page. 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

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

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.

Continue reading

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