Thursday, August 09, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #221: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 5: Like I'm the Only Squirrel in the World by Ryan North & Erica Henderson

The parade of odd would-be world-conquerors continues in this collection of Squirrel Girl's exploits -- I almost said "latest collection," but I'm still running almost two years behind, so it's not. She hasn't turned grimdark in the meantime, has she? That would be sad.

Anyway, in the five issues from late 2016 collected in (deep breath) The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 5: Like I'm the Only Squirrel in the World (exhale), our intrepid Squirrel Girl, Doreen Green, spends three issues battling a supervillain who breaks apart into smaller versions of himself when punched -- something which makes it very difficult for the heroes of the Marvel Universe to apply their usual problem-solving heuristic [1] to.

Doreen occasionally uses other solutions to problems -- oh, she can punch, too, she wouldn't last long in a Marvel comic if she couldn't -- so this becomes her problem to fix. Also, it's her comic, but that's pretty meta.

(By the way, this is volume five -- I've written about the first four here and here and here and here.)

And, yes, she does save the world: that's the point of a superhero comic. She does get some help from Ant-Man -- the ex-criminal one, not the movie one, or any of the three or four dozen others -- but more fun is Brain Drain, her friend/protege/sidekick/coincidentally also an ex-villain, who is a brain in a jar in a robot body and who is more nihilistic than anyone in a Marvel comic is generally allowed to be.

Well, that takes up three of the five issues collected here. What else? Doreen fights the Taskmaster -- whose power of "understanding how to do something perfectly by seeing it once" is always vastly overrated, since he doesn't actually get the superpowers to fly or shoot eyebeams or punch someone through the side of a building [2] -- in an issue entirely from the point of view of her cat.

And then issue #16 is the amazing 25th anniversary celebration of Squirrel Girl. And, since it's a big anniversary, it's entirely taken up with a retelling of her origins...well, actually, her entire career, more or less.

It's all fun and amusing in the Stunning Squirrel-Girl Manner, but it's all the same kind of thing as previous Squirrel Girl stories by writer Ryan North and artist Erica Henderson. [3] It's still somewhere in that nebulous middle ground between "like a normal Marvel comic, only funny and not entirely serious" and "science and girl power for parents and their pre-teens," and it does manage to avoid any crossover events that might have been cluttering up its universe at the time.

It's just more of the same: that's what I'm saying. If you liked it before, you'll probably like the reprise. But, at some point, you might want to hear a different song. [4]

[1] Is opponent attacking? Then punch.
Is opponent resting? Then declaim.
Is opponent defeated? Then monologue about justice.

[2] Squirrel Girl defeats him because she has a tail, which he can't replicate, and that would be cool if we didn't see him on previous pages fighting Hulk (superstrong), Iron Man (flies, shoots force beams), Spider-Man (shoots webs), and Ms. Marvel (stretches), every single one of whom can do at least one thing Taskmaster cannot replicate. But none of them is the star of this comic, which is Doreen's real superpower.

[3] Thought I was going to forget to mention then, didn't you?

[4] HA! I may be overly optimistic here: eighty years of superhero comics, and the neckbeards are still obsessed with their one song.

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