The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1

squirrel girl

Comics will get boring if you don’t take chances. While the greats are always worth a read, comics like Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, The Avengers, finding little quirky comics that will never reach the levels of popularity but are still damn good reads are what makes comic books so damn fun.

With a title called The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, I couldn’t resist reading this. Even if it was bad, the title alone earned it some good points with me. Like some movies can get you in the theater based on the title. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! Come on. A title like that makes you want to see what kind of fucked up nonsense you’re going to see.

I initially thought that this comic was entirely new but that turns out to not be the case. It is based on a character created in 1992 by Will Murray and the great Steve Ditko. The creation of the comic was simple. They wanted a character that would be more light hearted than what comics at that time were. If you have read comics from any company from that era, you would know why comic creators would think about taking a moment to be a little silly and more light hearted. Not that comics were too dark or anything but similar to what Marvel did with their movies this year, taking the somewhat serious toned The Avengers: Age of Ultron movie and then releasing Ant-Man, which was much lighter in tone and in terms of scale much more smaller, the stories that were coming out during that era all had to do with some pretty serious consequences. So I can see why having a character who was a little silly and dealt with lighter stories could be appealing.

If I had to compare this comic to anything, it would be the Saturday morning superhero cartoons I grew up on or the new Ultimate Spider-Man show that is on the Disney Channel. While the stakes can get pretty high on paper, the tone of the story is light hearted from start to finish. I mean, it almost has to be. If someone wanted to make a dark and gritty Squirrel Girl story I would think they would want to take their comic making card away from them and banish them to a life of creating super market advertising jingles. This issue revolves around her moving out of her secret apartment in Avengers Mansion and starting her freshman year at Empire State University. While on campus, she runs into Kraven the Hunter. What initially starts out as a fight turns into Squirrel Girl convincing Kraven that since he is immortal, he should be taking his skills as a hunter against creatures that could actually put up a fight. He agrees and off he leaves. Squirrel Girl bonds with her new dorm mate and the next story is teased when her squirrel friends tell her that something is about to destroy the world. The last panel we see Galactus.

The story is told simple. Sometimes a little too simple. At least in the first issue the writer can’t seem to find the balance he wants between showcasing the silly aspects of the character while giving her real life situations to deal with. While I have no problem with her interacting with people in a realistic way, it is a little disturbing that she whips out a tail at a moment’s notice and pretends that no one can see that she has become Squirrel Girl. I almost thing that her starting college ended up making her appear more like a moron because if she thinks that no one noticed she turned into Squirrel Girl, than she is delusional at best, insane at worse. But that is more a minor issue I have. It was a little distracting because it took a light story and turned it into a story of a woman with mild mental retardation but it was still pretty interesting.

The artwork nicely fits the tone of the story. It mimics a bit the traditional style of Kirby and Ditko but makes it much more simple. It really comes across like an old coloring book come to life. If the artwork were a little more realistic it may have took the tone, and some of the issues I had with it, and turned it into more of a glaring issue. But the art does a great job of setting the tone from the first frame and keeping you involved in the story when the actual story itself tends to take you out of it.

Bottom Line:

I recommend this comic. Do I think it’s the greatest comic ever made? No. It’s a little too silly and does a little more harm than good when it comes to presenting a story you can lose yourself in. But for all it gets wrong, it gets more right in the end. You will find yourself laughing more often than not. The art does its best to save the story and it does an admirable job. While the character of Squirrel Girl is presented as a little dumb to put it nicely, her character is drawn in such a way as to be drawn to her, to pardon the pun. You like her from the first frame when she’s singing her own version of the classic Spider-Man song. The goal of any comic whether it is executed properly or not is to make folks want to read the next issue and you know what? I want to see Galactus face off against the squirrels of the world. If it took The Fantastic Four to almost get themselves wiped out before they could defeat Galactus, what could Squirrel Girl do to stop him? I have to know at this point.

Fantastic Four #48 The Coming of Galactus

Fantastic_Four_48

Jack Kirby is a legend. Jack Kirby is responsible for the visual representations of pretty much any hero you can think of. The Fantastic Four. The Hulk. Thor. Iron Man. Darkseid. The New Gods. While Stan Lee may be responsible for the words that created the characters, without Jack Kirby’s illustrations we wouldn’t have such amazing images to place along with the words. Jack Kirby would have been 98 today so in honor of his amazing work, we’re going to discuss one of his most famous works.

Here is a summary of Fantastic Four #48. (http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Fantastic_Four_Vol_1_48) As always I’ll start off with what I think worked.

The comic in question was the standard 22 pages but if felt full. It felt like a real story unlike some comics today that feel like they’re highlights of a much bigger story you haven’t read yet. I really enjoyed the build up to the Galactus reveal. Building up to that reveal you really had the sense of the power the Fantastic Four was about to face.

It goes without saying that the dynamic between the Fantastic Four is great. I really loved that even with the writing of the time being a little melodramatic to say the least the relationship between the team felt natural. Compared to DC product at that time, Marvel had stories that felt like the characters were people you would actually encounter on the street. When Johnny Storm has to leave Crystal after Maximus fires off the Atmos gun, you not only felt his pain but you felt the compassion the team felt for him.

In regards to the negatives, I did not care for the story starting at the third act of a different story. I think that the goal of any comic should be a story that, while it may be a part of a bigger piece, should be enjoyed as a self contained story. You shouldn’t have to go back to the previous issues in order to get an understanding of what is going on. The story itself should be good enough to make you want to do that alone. At the very least I would have liked it better if the story at the beginning of the book tied into the main story they were trying to tell about the arrival of Galactus.

One other element I did not care for was the actual Galactus reveal. It’s been established that Galactus is this gigantic figure that has the ability to suck the resources of a world dry. The first image we get of Galactus however made him appear like a professional wrestler. (What’cha gonna do when Galactus runs wild on you?) Time has more than fixed this but seeing this was just kind of a buzz kill. The build up was so great that when the reveal came you’re thinking “Is that it?”

I also did not care for how Sue Storm was portrayed. Granted my reaction is based on 21st Century thinking and not how women were treated during the 1960’s. While it was great that a woman was included as a main character in comics especially during that era, the fact that they’re relegated to speaking stereotypical women talk is just annoying and takes you out of the story reading it close to 50 years later.

Bottom Line:

The story was pretty damn good. While it had its flaws the execution was top notch. I give the story an 8. The artwork I’m going to give a 9. Jack Kirby is the creator of what we see visually come every summer with each new Marvel movie and every week on the comic book shelves. The only reason I gave it a 9 was due to the Galactus reveal. If you get a chance read this story.

Now, it appears that Jack Kirby’s daughter has asked that folks, in honor of her grandfather, donate to a charity called The Hero Initiative. The charity in question has been set up to assist comic book writers, artists, and creators who have fallen on hard times. One major black mark on the comics industry is how they treat their talent. Take the creators of Superman, Jerry Seigel and Joe Schuster. When Superman The Movie debuted in 1977, these two men were pretty much destitute despite the company that had paid them $130 for the rights to Superman making millions upon millions based on the character they created. Even today, the late Steve Moore, who wrote the comic Hercules: The Thracian Wars, did not have control over his work. He wanted no involvement with the movie that was later made starring The Rock and asked to not have his name associated with it. Turns out the producers and the comic company couldn’t give two fucks about his opinion and plastered his name as if he had supported the work.

Kirby’s granddaughter has started a special t-shirt sale to help support this charity. (http://kirbymuseum.org/) I encourage you to check the site out and if you can, purchase a t-shirt. The proceeds go to a good cause. Until next time…