Character Reference is a weekly spot where I provide a letter of recommendation for a series you should try, kicking off with a selection of comics! Every Thursday will have an overview of a fantastic comic book series that you might otherwise have missed, covering a range of genres, styles and characters. Enjoy!
After the doom, gloom and gore of the last two recommendations, I felt it was time to mix it up and go nuts. Nuts. Because Squirrel Girl. Get it?
Okay, bad jokes aside, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is the most fun I’ve had reading a comic since I first picked up Scott Pilgrim. With all the polish of the best Marvel titles combined with the refreshing irreverence and young female-centric storytelling that is more common from an indie series, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is a truly all ages comic book.
From the fun, colourful cartoon-style art, to the cool easter egg jokes hidden at the bottom of each page, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is a joy to read from start to finish. As a tonic to the preferred gritty anti-heroes often seen nowadays, Doreen Green’s Squirrel Girl is playful, punny and self-aware; the family-friendly teenage girl equivalent of Deadpool (by the way, Squirrel Girl has canonically served the Merc with a Mouth his shapely ass on a plate; despite the cutesy name she’s earned the unbeatable title). The tone of the comic is a delicious balance between sincere and cheeky, with characters such as Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boi making appearances, with the writer mining humour from them, but never reducing them to just a joke. The whole comic just zings off the page, with everything from the art to the layout being pitch-perfect; lots of potentially good comics suffer from inconsistency between the different elements, especially when it comes to C-list female superheroes, but here it really feels like everyone knows the story and style they want for Squirrel Girl.
Doreen Green is a wonderful example of Marvel getting a female superhero right. Starting university to study computer science, Doreen thankfully avoids the usual sexualisation; she looks wonderfully normal, with average proportions and clothes (no microscopic waist or boob windows here). Without ever feeling like it’s talking down to its readers, the comic follows Doreen as she deals with relatable real world problems, like making friends at university, in addition to ‘super’ concerns, like telling Tony Stark you borrowed his Iron Man suit. She has an infectious enthusiasm for life, rather than being another world-weary or battle-hardened, emotionally detached avenger.
Another triumph is the supporting cast. Squirrel Girl’s roommate Nancy Whitehead is just the sort of person I found would myself hanging out with at university; no nonsense, whip-smart and with a strange knitting habit. She also has an adorable cat called Mew that no one is allowed to talk smack about. Talking of pets, I can’t miss out Tippy-toe, Doreen’s squirrel sidekick. With a fetching pink bow, Tippy-toe knows when to call in the squirrel cavalry to help our eponymous heroine.
This series is fun, quirky and a wholesome antidote to dark, brooding superheroes. It is also the perfect one to start reading with young girls who are just getting into comics; Doreen Green is a great role model for the bright eyed and bushy tailed.
Title: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
Genre: Superhero, Coming of age
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Erica Henderson
Best for: Fans of goofy, lighthearted superhero shenanigans, lovers of small, bushy tailed rodents
Words: Heidi Teague
Tweet Heidi @TeagueHeidi