Not enough people remember than Steve Ditko and Will Murray created Squirrel Girl. A superhero with a big tail and the ability to control squirrels which, en masse, proved a rather powerful adversary.
Rediscovered by Dan Slott for Great Lakes Avengers, she was an anachronistic, happy go lucky character who could, apparently, take down Galactus if she so wished. She’s a joke character, but one that has drawn a lot of affection from readers and her appointment as a nanny for the Avengers, looking after Jessica Jones and Luke Cage’s child was seen by some as a demotion.
Well, this week’s Fear Itself issue tries to put pay to that. Not only does she take down Wolverine in a sparring match, but then she has to put up with the big Nazi monsters attacking her with full force, with only a baby on her mind.
Brian Bendis also uses the power allegory in an unusual way here. The classic superhero allegory is the adolescent experience, feeling powerless against a world especially at that age, the superhero provides a power fantasy. Here Squirrel Girl is tapping into a different emotion, that of not living up to your own expectations. Working in a job that you’ve settled for rather than the one you really want but have been unable to achieve. The world is full of this experience, here it is expresses in superpowers. To work in the Avengers mansion, to come so close to having your dream yet not achieve it. How many people work as waiters, receptionists, runners, sales, in and around industries where they wish to be at the creative centre? Hoping that their mere presence will either help their dreams occur or that they’ll manage to tickle their dreams along by proximity? This is their comic.
The book starts with Squirrel Girl jokes but it ends in deadly seriousness.
Mike Deodato is seriously loosening up with this issue, absorbing what seems like the linework of Neal Adams in places. He’s always been a bit of a chameleon, fitting whatever style editorial demands of him, from a Jim Lee clone to a photo realistic take to this… mix of hairy fight scenes and gurning for the “camera” in the Avengers Audio Monologue thing that kicks the book off. It’s been derided by some but it’s a very effective narrative device that sidesteps the usual “Previously Seen On Buffy The Vampire Slayer” montage that most books use. And it beat internal captions or thought balloons too. A person expressing themselves as they wish to be seen before we dive into the action that reveals who they actually are. And then juxtaposing between the two.
And it looks like the Squirrel Girlness doesn;t end here as there’s a big Continued end to the issue as well.
If you like Squirrel Girl, then fill your boots. If you don’t… well maybe this comic wil go some way to changing your mind.
And if it doesn’t… well. We all know who’s coming next. I wonder if he’ll use her on his new team?
Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics, London.