Marvel has reopened their vault to bring back a long-forgotten character, but maybe they shouldn’t have. Doreen Green is Squirrel Girl, a Marvel superheroine with all the powers of a squirrel trying to navigate her freshman year of college while also working as a full-time vigilante. There is serious potential for comedic genius here, but unfortunately, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1 falls far short. In their enthusiasm to bring in new readers, Marvel has recently made severe creative changes to the books they publish and the types of stories they try to tell. Some have been rewarding and noteworthy creative ventures, but Squirrel Girl does not rank among the standout titles.
Overall rating: 5.3 out of 10
Creativity of Concept: 6/10
A superhero balancing college, heroism, and talking squirrels sounds like a fun ride. Comic books can be hysterically funny when the right creative cogs mesh together and flow nicely. Unfortunately, Doreen’s daily life is not as exciting or funny as the writers probably wanted it to be. Yes the college drama is relatable, and yes the moments where she sings her own theme song have humorous undertones, but when strung together the book feels juvenile, and in parts, downright boring. I would go as far as to say that maybe Marvel should have just left the original Squirrel Girl alone.
The art certainly matches the tone of the book, but when the tone doesn’t land neither does the artwork. Though Doreen is a young adult, the artwork looks like the sort you’d find in a children’s book. There is certainly quality, but much like the writing, the art seems to talk down to the reader. It’s colorful and clear enough to appeal to a young child, but the writing and plot situations are (poorly) aimed at an older audience.
When I talk about readability, I typically am referring to the enjoyment of the read. Do I find myself losing interest, or turning pages frantically looking for the next plot point? The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl became an extremely slow read. I lost interest after the first ten pages, then begrudgingly continued along hoping to find something enjoyable. There were a few jokes that made me chuckle, and Doreen’s fangirling over the Avengers is somewhat charming, but overall I couldn’t wait to put the book down.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl serves as a clear example of dumbing down and softening the superhero genre. The story was lighthearted, but almost frustratingly so. It certainly was not my cup of tea. I would not recommend it to most of the comic readers I know. There are far better options for a lighthearted superhero comic (Ms. Marvel, Black Canary and Zatanna, and Starfire to name a few), I would recommend trying any of those first.