Tuesday, November 02, 2021

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 11: Call Your Squirrelfriend by Ryan North, Derek Charm, and Rico Renzi

I think this volume - second from the end, for those counting down - is the first in Unbeatable Squirrel Girl history to credit only men on the cover, which is a slightly sad thing. (Naomi Franquiz and Erica Henderson each draw a few pages of the first issue collected here, so it's an asterisked sad thing: there is some work by women here, but only a bit and not cover-credited.)

I could spin that out into a whole thing, but this is corporate comics, so Girl Power! always was going to be subject to the vagaries of the market - and most of those men are the same ones who were in from the beginning (writer Ryan North and colorist/occasional card-art creator Rico Renzi). So I'd have to hang that sadness on the transition from original artist Henderson to Derek Charm, who took over about a year before the comics collected here, and that feels like it would be picking on him for getting a good gig and doing good work at it. So, anyway: here are some stories about female friendship and girl power....made by men.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 11: Call Your Squirrelfriend departs from the usual model of the previous volumes by having its one-off issue up front, rather than at the end. That's the big fiftieth-issue celebration - a team-up of the Squirrel Girls of three ages (roughly 12, 20, and 60) to defeat Kang the Conqueror - which is #50 only if you count the 2015 eight-issue series that was immediately rebooted for purely commercial reasons into the second, otherwise identical, series with exactly the same title and creators and direction. (Corporate comics, man! They're stupid even when they don't have to be. It's like they go out of they way for it.)

The rest of this volume collects a crossover story, I'm mildly sad to say. I don't know how the rest of "War of the Realms" - in which a secondary villain from Walt Simonson's Thor was dusted off and came thisclose to conquering every one of the ten canonical Norse mythological realms, including Earth/Midgard - went, though I expect worlds lived, worlds died, and nothing was ever the same...until the next big crossover two issues later. Here's it's mostly an excuse to send SG (aka Doreen Green) off to Canada without her usual supporting cast to battle the Frost Giants who have taken over North America. (Apparently, "War of the Realms" saw my man Malekith first conquer every other Norse realm, perhaps for practice, and then use all of their combined forces to invade and conquer Earth, so each of the various kinds of mythic creatures could have their own discrete continent to invade and dominate. It's all very wargame-y, frankly - the kind of thing that seems like it was more fun for the people planning than in the actual storytelling or reading.)

SG does get to team up with Her Greatest Enemy, or at least Her Greatest Enemy Connected To Norse Mythology, which is close enough for government work. So she and Ratatoskr, the "Asgardian chaos squirrel god," have to bicker and team up to defeat the Frost Giants and do their small piece of world-saving. She does foment a political revolution - at least as far as we see - among the Frost Giants by quoting John Locke at them, which is mildly amusing, though part of me wished she went full hardcore Marx/Lenin.

But I am getting a sense that the team was running out of SG stories at this point, and/or getting dragged away from their comfortable Girl Power! corner of the Marvel Universe, which may be why the whole series ended just a few issues later, with the actual #50. But I'll have to see about that when I get to Vol. 12.

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