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The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #32 Review

by Charles Martin on May 09, 2018

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #32 Review
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Derek Charm
Colourist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Doreen "Squirrel Girl" Green: brown eyes or green eyes? This is Important, people!

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #32 introduces a new artist, and the plot is a nice slice-of-life affair that gives Derek Charm a shot at drawing most of the title's regular supporting cast as well as favourite guest-stars Howard the Duck and Kraven the Hunter.

(And yes, we get another look at the Kra-Van in all its Joe Quinones-airbrushed glory.)

What eventually coalesces out of Doreen and Nancy's day-to-day is a deep interest in Kraven's continued progress toward heroism. They decide that getting him to hang with generally-awesome people (i.e. their comp-sci and heroing pals) would surely be a good influence.

So that's how Kraven gets invited to an escape room with the Squirrel Girl gang. Do hijinks ensue? Oh, you better believe it! It's the ensue-iest!

Ryan North's script raises a bumper crop of jokes, as expected, and this issue's harvest is notably rich. Not every gag landed for me, but I'm very pleased with the hit-to-miss ratio and recognize that subjectivity plays a role here. Even if I don't chuckle at Doreen naming herself "Lady Crimepocalypse" for the escape room game, I'm sure it'll deliver belly laughs for somebody. I do get big laughs out of Brain Drain's alias, and I bet I'm not the only one. Something for everyone!

The book starts off with Squirrel Girl/Doreen explaining Borges's Library of Babel - well - to a computer club of younger kids. It looks like she plans to guide them through building a digital version. (Which an awesome guy named Jonathan Basile has already done! Check it out: http://libraryofbabel.info/

This does not connect to the escape room plot yet. It's generally awesome and educational and it might be a nod to Marvel Rising; I think that series's protagonist, Ember, makes a tiny cameo on this issue's second page. But if this escape room story doesn't loop back to the Library somehow, I'll be disappointed.

Derek Charm does some impressive work with the visuals. He clearly respects the foundational work Erica Henderson did on this title and his flat, cartoony style maintains the same general tone as her work. Rico Renzi is still calling the colours, which helps boost consistency, and he does his usual palette coordination to meld panels which are otherwise shy of background detail into consistent scenes. 

Where Mr. Charm has exercised his initiative is in tweaking the character designs. He's chosen to return to Squirrel Girl's iconic bomber jacket uniform, which is a great choice, and he's shifted her face toward an early-90s anime style. (Insert "Squirrelball Z" or "Squirrel Girl 1/2" joke here.) And he's made her eyes unmissably, arrestingly green.

The rest of the cast has been subtly upgraded, too. Mr. Charm's faces are built for greater clarity of expression and a wider variety of emotions. These are welcome enhancements and it opens up some fascinating possibilities for the future. 

Are Mr. North and Mr. Charm laying groundwork for a discussion of Ken "Koi Boi" Shiga's gender identity and/or sexuality? I might be mistaken, but I think I see a few hints in that direction here. Leading an all-ages audience through the niceties of a trans character would surely be challenging, but I think this creative team is more than up to the job.

Inviting Kraven into an escape room game produces a nice full-cast adventure - eventually. New artist Derek Charm lands not with a bang but a smooth upward curve, taking the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl we know and love and enhancing it in welcome ways without changing its core style. Though the road to the main plot meanders a little, the entire journey is funny and the cliffhanger is full of promise.

Our Score:

9/10

A Look Inside

Comments

Charles Martin's picture
Accord to the Holy Book of Ditko (that's Marvel Super-Heroes #8 to you, bub), Doreen is supposed to have brown eyes. But then, virtually everything about Squirrel Girl's original portrayal (except her squirrel-speech) has been changed for the better - so I, for one, welcome our new green-eyed overlord.