Wednesday, June 12, 2024

An Over Arching Villain and Animal Cosplaying Intersect in Squirrel Girl #17

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Squirrel Girl #17 lays down a lot of groundwork for the future of the series. A new villain, costume, and even story direction all within a single, well-paced issue.

The comic starts out Doreen, the titular hero, going to a lecture by a famous rich engineer known as Melissa Morbeck. After a brief but surprisingly somber lesson on Canadian Engineering, Melissa invites Doreen for tea and crumpets.

After being forced to dress up in an elaborate dress and hat, Melissa reveals how she’s been following Doreen for some years. As it turns out, she too can talk to animals. Further, she is aiming to help Doreen in her quest as the superhero. She then gifts her something awesome.

One page turn and we’re treated to an awesome scene of Doreen flying through the air. After some practice with her new wings, she comes across the Rhino stealing some shoes. After a fight using her new tech, she flies the Rhino in the sky. There they have a heart to heart and Doreen actually convinces the Rhino to give the shoes back. It’s a moment that is actually quite powerful.

However, a scene change later and it’s revealed that Melissa is actually a competent villain set out on making Squirrel Girl join…something. We don’t know what, but if it requires manipulative steps like the one’s she written down, it can’t be good. Whatever she has planned now, Doreen will be tested.

This issue was probably one of the better installments to come out. It’s pointing towards a clear direction for the series, one that will give Doreen some very interesting development.

Melissa Morbeck may actually be one the Squirrel Girl’s hardest opponents yet. This is mostly because of how surprising and unassuming she is. Doreen is used to fighting people head on, one on one. But she’s never had to face psychological manipulation. Melissa has laid out a whole plan to manipulate and give Squirrel Girl a dependency on her. Through gifts and abilities, she has gained Doreen’s trust, and Doreen is very loyal to a fault. She values her friends and family. As such, Melissa will test our protagonist in ways she has never had to handle

Though it seems like Squirrel Girl, when she is ready, might be able to handle it. Because she is starting to adapt and change as a superhero. In a very sincere moment, she had a heart to heart with the Rhino, animal cosplayer and furry enthusiast, of all people. What began as a petty crime from the horned foe turned into an interesting discussion about acceptance and knowing who you are.

As silly as it might be, Squirrel Girl and the Rhino have a lot in common. They both fight in animal costumes and take on animal motifs, despite how silly it is. Squirrel Girl is able to understand the Rhino and inspire him to do the right thing. She really brings out her inner Steven Universe. It is an unexpected but powerful moment, and I only hope more moments like these are spaced throughout her story.

As usual, the humor is top notch. Meta jokes abound in the bottom of the pages. We even got introduced to Marvel’s newest villain, Lady Kernels of Corn. Whether she ever challenges Squirrel Girl remains to be seen.

Who is she? (Viciously headcanons her as southern Mexican Women who grew up as a literally dirt poor corn farmer[Corn was originally cultivated in Southern Mexico] who turned to a life of crime out of a sense of practicality to save her family and now weighs morality versus the needs of her and her family.)
Squirrel Girl #17 is one of the best issues to come out so far. Its pacing is tight. It’s ideas and themes are intriguing. And it’s going on the lay down the groundwork for future issues. Wherever the series goes from her, it’ll be exciting to see.


The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #17

Writer: Ryan North

Pencils/Inks/Colors: Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi & guest artist Chris Schweizer

Images Courtesy of Marvel

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