The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 5 (April 2016)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5

Squirrel Girl. Squirrel Girl vs. Dr. Doom, which feels like the longest absurd battle of all time. It just seemed like it was going to go on forever. This issue makes it all worth it, this issue has North bringing all the elements together–and there are a lot of them and he creates more problems to solve here–and presenting them to the reader. There’s so much time travel stuff. North is thoughtful about it but not overly serious about it. It’s a great time travel storyline. In Squirrel Girl. Involving Dr. Doom.

Henderson has a lot of different stuff to draw, but she’s got to keep up an insane pace. North is hurrying the reader. He’s not in a hurry, he’s intentionally hurrying the reader to control expectation. It requires Henderson to convey a lot of information without taking up room, both on the page and in the reader’s imagination.

I really like this comic. It started pretty strong and North and Henderson just work to make it better and better. Even with a silly villain like Dr. Doom, they’re able to turn in some excellent mainstream work.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan North; artist, Erica Henderson; colorist, Rico Renzi; letterer, Travis Lanham; editors, Chris Robinson and Wil Moss; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 4 (March 2016)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4

I’m only going to complain a little but I am going to complain. North really can’t handle this arc; I mean, this issue isn’t a bridging issue, it isn’t an anything issue. It’s too much a part of the story arc–Squirrel Girl back in time trying to stop Dr. Doom from taking over the future–so nothing else really builds. There’s also not much to do build in the past. Or at least North isn’t going that route.

Instead, he’s got a lot of talking heads. Lots of planning, lots of Doom ranting. Just lots of talking. There’s some good art–Henderson can keep up with the talking, but she also gets to do a bit of variety–future Doom-world, 1960s New York. Henderson is really pushing things here, which is good. The book needs energy from somewhere.

Some of the issue might just be Dr. Doom saturation. He’s such a “fun” villain, but he’s got limited character possibilities. While North gets to a good cliffhanger with Doom this issue, he takes forever to get there.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan North; artist, Erica Henderson; colorist, Rico Renzi; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Chris Robinson and Wil Moss; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 3 (February 2016)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3

There’s something so great about Dr. Doom as buffoon. Maybe because Dr. Doom as loquacious villain gets boring fast. But does anyone actually use him as anything but a buffoon anymore? Squirrel Girl marks the second thing I’ve read from Marvel in the last year featuring Doom–and I’m pretty sure I’ve only read three Marvel series–so he appears, as comic relief, in two-thirds of the Marvel comics I read.

And they’re better for it.

The thing about North is he loves his characters. He loves Doreen, he loves Nancy, he loves Tippy. He loses track of himself with the characters, even when he has this rather complex time travel story with Doom. It’s not present Doom, it’s past Doom, going into even further past, pre-Marvel Age era. I’m not even sure I get it all. But it’s cool North has this much thought for his time travel paradox. It’s care. Squirrel Girl is made with care.

Henderson’s art does a great job with the flashback setting. She initially conveys the era just through clothing (before opening up to exteriors for the fight scene) and it’s awesome.

Squirrel Girl is a good comic.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan North; artist, Erica Henderson; colorist, Rico Renzi; letterer, Travis Lanham; editors, Chris Robinson and Wil Moss; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 2 (January 2016)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2

I’m not an expert on time travel stories. I like them, with all their in-jokes and so on, but I don’t really care. They’re a special event and should be rare ones. So I wasn’t expecting Ryan North to write the best time travel story, in terms of in-jokes, references and so on, since Back to the Future. Doreen and Tippy get sent back in time to just before the dawn of the Marvel Age. Maybe by Dr. Doom. Doesn’t matter; the details are never going to be as awesome as North’s execution.

Henderson’s art is essential–the mood and pace of the time travel tropes North acknowledges, utilizes, and ignores get conveyed more in how Henderson breaks out the page than in how North scripts the scene. It’s action-packed talking heads.

But North also has Nancy in the present trying to find her. Amid the great time travel story, there’s this neat (not as exceptional, but really neat) look at how technology has changed since the Internet. Squirrel Girl is a comic with real constraint–it’s about Squirrel Girl–but North and Henderson do deliver a very modern “retro” comic. It’s sixties Marvel done for the Twitter age.

It’s quite good.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan North; artist, Erica Henderson; colorist, Rico Renzi; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Chris Robinson and Wil Moss; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 1 (December 2015)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1

I didn’t finish the last Squirrel Girl series, which is getting a very soft reboot here. I think there was a Secret Wars crossover. I’m not sure why I didn’t finish it. No good reason.

Doreen, Tippy and the whole gang are back. Including a couple new people who must’ve come into the comic after I stopped reading it.

The first third of the comic is setting up the new ground situation. Doreen is a sophomore, she’s living with Nancy in an apartment. She has a crimefighting partner who controls chipmunks or something. It’s cute. Ryan North writes some gently funny, amiable dialogue for the characters and it’s fine. Erica Henderson’s art’s good.

But it feels very perfunctory. Until the third act, after Doreen’s mom shows up and there’s a superhero fight scene. Not between Doreen and her mom, but between Squirrel Girl and a Hellboy villain. The fight scene isn’t even the good part. It’s after the fight scene, when North shows why Squirrel Girl is a different kind of book.

North and Henderson are fully aware of where they can go for the joke, but they don’t want to go for the low-hanging gags. They work until they get somewhere with the comic. There’s an infectious, precious sincerity to Squirrel Girl.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan North; artist, Erica Henderson; colorist, Rico Renzi; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Chris Robinson and Wil Moss; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 4 (June 2015)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4

Writer North understands the lunacy of Squirrel Girl fighting Galactus but he’s also writing a comic called The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl so he’s got to come up with something good. And he does. He doesn’t take the comic too seriously, which helps because Squirrel Girl doesn’t need to be realistic, it needs to obey internal logic and amuse.

It does both.

North turns Galactus into a great banter partner for Squirrel Girl–and Tippy Toe–while keeping a decent amount of action in the comic. Henderson’s style doesn’t seem a fit for comic book space opera but she really gets it. The Galactus encounter on the moon is full of memorable shots and set pieces.

There’s even tension–which should be difficult since North has a bunch of framing devices but it all works out rather nicely. If Squirrel Girl can take on Galactus and win, it can do anything.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan North; artist, Erica Henderson; colorist, Rico Renzi; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Jon Moisan and Wil Moss; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 3 (May 2015)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3

It’s another good issue of Squirrel Girl with a whole bunch of action. Doreen gets into a big fight with Whiplash–while I get what North’s trying to do with the dialogue, the Whiplash dialogue isn’t any good, which might be my only complaint about the dialogue–and then has to save her roommate from bank robbers.

And then get to the moon and deal with Galactus. It’s a busy issue, no doubt.

North knows how to pace that busy issue out in a way it reads fast and never has to slow for the exposition to set up the next problem. Some of that comes to how North blocks out sequences–emphasizing Doreen talking to her squirrel over her adventures in an Iron Man suit–but it’s also just the approach to the comic.

Fast and fun; it’s got depth because North’s able.

Though he does endanger many squirrels.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan North; artist, Erica Henderson; colorist, Rico Renzi; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Jon Moisan and Wil Moss; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 2 (April 2015)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #2

Cruel, cruel cliffhanger. So cruel.

After an awesome–Doreen would agree with the adjective–issue of Squirrel Girl, writer North finds the perfect spot for a cliffhanger. Not so much for what’s going to happen next, but because of what’s happened just before. The way North plots the issue is fantastic. There’s a combination of Doreen in college, Doreen in the Marvel Universe as Squirrel Girl, Doreen as her own as Squirrel Girl.

Well, with Tippy-Toe, of course.

North has the most fun with the plot in the second half of the issue, with Doreen having to break into Stark Tower, but his best work is in how he establishes her friendship with roommate Nancy. North’s use of thought balloons reminds why they’re a great tool in the comic writer’s cache.

Henderson’s handling of Doreen on art is the important thing. The expressions have to work. And they do.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan North; artist, Erica Henderson; colorist, Rico Renzi; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Jacob Thomas and Wil Moss; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 1 (March 2015)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1

Ryan North fits a lot of story into this issue of Squirrel Girl. Not only does he set up Squirrel Girl as a crime fighter, introducing her new life as a regular college student, he introduces her roommate, a possible love interest and gives her a great fight with Kraven.

Things move a little fast at times–Squirrel Girl has a few realizations where North doesn’t draw the reader a logical path–but there’s enough personality to make up for those rushed moments. Squirrel Girl’s sidekick squirrel, for example, grounds the scenes. Seriously. The talking squirrel (only to Squirrel Girl) grounds things.

The comic, at least in this first issue, has limited appeal. There’s a lot of Marvel trivia and it sometimes overshadows Squirrel Girl, but North tries to plot the issue so anyone can appreciate it.

Nice art from Erica Henderson–lots of personality to her New York City.

CREDITS

Writer, Ryan North; artists, Erica Henderson and Maris Wicks; colorist, Rico Renzi; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Jacob Thomas and Wil Moss; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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