Friday, October 02, 2015

Reader's Diary #1198- Ryan North (Writer) and Erica Henderson (Illustrator): Squirrel Girl / Squirrel Power

Okay, so I'm officially demanding that Marvel starts selling Squirrel Girl merch. T-shirts. In men's sizes. (Then, they can't even seem to make a Black Widow toy, so I won't hold my breath.).

But yeah, I'd wear that shirt proudly. Squirrel Girl is fun. I mean a riot. Socially awkward, but happy anyway, quirky-as-all-hell, but owning it without faking it. Most of this credit can be given to North who squeezes as much humour out of page as possible. Even at the very bottom, in the tiniest, eye-strainingest font are self-aware jokes. His comedy ranges from the slapstick and punny to the ironic and irreverent. It's seldom mean though, and clean but without coming across as juvenile or aimed, necessarily, at children. (That said, I totally shared this one with my own kids.)

I say most of the credit is North's, because Henderson's influence is clearly there as well. She inserts her own sight gags from time to time and you can tell how much fun she's having with North's material. Her full-body armor of living squirrels is a hoot. However, it's the fan letter inserts and her replies  that really prove that, in the wit and comedy department, she can hold her own against North.

Henderson should also be given credit for the awesome job she did with the Squirrel Girl character. Finally a superheroine with a realistic body shape, with a costume that's cool and functional and fitting of the character's personality. Other Marvel characters who pop up are given just the right amount of caricature. You still recognize them, but all have a comedic bent.

My one issue, or minor concern really, is that I'm afraid the character will never be taken seriously by superhero fans. It's okay to have a humour comic. I love humour comics. But she's just such a kick-ass character, I would like to someday be able to see her in actual peril. Yes, she has the power of squirrels. I know she was never really intended to be given that much thought. But North and Henderson have made such a likable and enjoyable character, that it's impossible not to want her to have more of the limelight. I see that she's in the A-Force, the all-female Avengers team, which I haven't read, so my fingers are crossed that she'll prove more than comic relief. I think she needs a less buffoonish adversary. She is "unbeatable," I get that, but her enemies have so far been too easy to defeat. Kraven the Hunter and Whiplash are just silly mosquitoes, slapped away, and while there was a huge build up to Squirrel Girl's encounter with Galactus, it fell a little flat. Don't get me wrong. I still loved this series. I'm just saying that while North and Henderson nailed the humour and the art, they just need to tweak the action a bit.

An added bonus to this collected volume was the inclusion of Squirrel Girl's first appearance in Marvel Comics from 1991where she meets Iron Man. It's interesting from a historical standpoint. By Will Murray and Steve Ditko, I thought it looked and read like something far more dated than it really was. Like something from the 60s or 70s. I'm glad they came up with the idea, sure, but huge props to North and Henderson for taking this character and actually making her compelling.

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