Ahead of one of the biggest events of the comic book industry, New York Comic Con, this weekend, Marvel has already started their publicity machine running. Earlier this week, they announced via Entertainment Weekly that one of their most interesting comic book characters will be getting their own solo ongoing series for the first time. From the creative team of Ryan North and Erica Henderson comes The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl in January 2015. The titular character, whose alter ego is college student Doreen Green, has enhanced agility and strength, but most importantly, the unique ability to communicate with squirrels!
Don’t write her off too quickly though! Squirrel Girl is also (in)famous for having beaten some of the Marvel Universe’s greatest villains, including Doctor Doom, Thanos and even Galactus (as part of the running joke, most of these were off-panel). But there’s nothing to joke about Marvel’s serious ongoing commitment to creating new titles and diversifying genres.
Find out more about what Unbeatable Squirrel Girl means for Marvel’s future under the cut.
The creative team of Ryan North and Erica Henderson is a clear indication of what type of book Unbeatable Squirrel Girl will be. North is most famous for his extremely humorous webcomic Dinosaur Comics, which has utilised the same six panels for over a decade. More recently, North has written the Young Avengers story “Hidden in Plain Sight” in the Original Sins limited series anthology. Henderson is known mostly for her indie comics work on Monkeybrain Comics’ Subatomic Party Girls, but also provided art for a Captain America story in Original Sins #4.
When you bring these two talents together, it’s clear that Marvel wants The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl to be just a tad offbeat, maybe a little irreverent, hopefully laugh out loud funny. Yet, as this awesome ComicBook.com interview with creators Ryan North and Erica Henderson proves, they really get what makes Squirrel Girl different from Marvel’s other “joke” character Deadpool – says North “if you’re laughing at a Squirrel Girl book, I wanted you to be laughing WITH her, not at her”. We’re going to see Squirrel Girl both in her superhero persona, but also as her alter ego Doreen Green, who will be encountering “new and exciting CRAZY STUFF” as she starts college. North also insisted that the title would be accessible to new readers, saying “Squirrel Girl has been around for decades but this is her first starring role, which means she doesn’t have the baggage that you might get with other characters”
Despite making her debut appearance back in 1992, Squirrel Girl only returned to mainstream consciousness when writer Dan Slott included her among the Great Lakes Avengers back in 2005, and then writer Brian Michael Bendis made her the nanny of Jessica Jones’ and Luke Cage’s daughter Danielle in New Avengers in 2011, a move which admittedly, I wasn’t too happy with, but may have been just the popularity surge that the character needed. Since then, she has appeared both in animation as well as in video games, including Marvel: Avengers Alliance where, appropriately enough, she has been made available again for players.
More importantly, though, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl reaffirms three important steps that Marvel is taking.
Firstly, continuing to give female creators opportunities: Erica Henderson joins the growing ranks of women among Marvel’s artists, writers and editors that already include luminaries like Sara Pichelli and Stephanie Hans. It’s really important for Marvel to continue to take the lead and prove that women are just as welcome as men in the industry. Especially women that draw women LIKE women.
There are many reasons for me to be excited about Squirrel Girl but my top reason is that @EricaFails draws her like an actual real lady. ❤️
— knits or gtfo (@jurijuri) October 7, 2014
Secondly, Squirrel Girl joins Thor as being one of NINE female leads on a Marvel title. We’ve said it before, but it needs to be said again, this is an amazing turnaround from 2011, when they cancelled X-23 and Ghost Rider, leaving them with no female leading characters in a title. Amazing what three years can do.Thirdly, and most importantly, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is proof that Marvel will indeed try anything once, especially if it’s an unexpectedly popular character like Squirrel Girl. After the totally unpredictable popularity of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, which made a debuting Rocket Raccoon comic more in demand than Batman, Marvel realises now more than ever what a goldmine they’re sitting on. Given the right creative team, any character is a potential sleeper hit, and everyone is hoping that Squirrel Girl’s cult following will prove it with their wallets.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl debuts January 2015.