I love a good pun, especially in the title of a comic or the name of an a cappella group. It just makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. I think this sense of whimsy is what makes The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl an automatic pick-up for me. The partnership of writer Ryan North and artist Erika Henderson is one of the more perfect in recent comics (along with the team of Aaron, Dauterman, and Wilson on The Mighty Thor). Sadly, for us, both of these wonderful teams have gone the way of all things, passing into that great beyond where we must recall with sadness the true blue joy they brought to our comic-infused hearts, even if for but a few years.
Maudlin though I might be at the change in artist, it is good to return to Henderson’s final run on USG, it is a significant change in a very good book. The final two stories, included in volume 8, involve Doreen saving the universe (kinda) again from the ravages of the Silver Surfer (kinda) alongside her new super-villain pal, Loki, Sorcerer Supreme. Yeah, you heard me. Nancy and Tippy Toe get kidnapped by a bunch of squirrels who live on a planet of squirrels in hopes of using their knowledge of Squirrel Girl’s past exploits to defeat the coming of Galactus, heralded by the Silver Surfer and his surfer bros of various shades. With no one else to help her, Loki steps up and gets them to space toot sweet.
The insanity of the story itself is enough to recommend it to anyone, but the care that North and Henderson take with the characters, including exploring new sides of familiar ones, gives credence to the praise this book regularly receives. In a book with a person of color as one of the leads, as well as a trans character and literal brain-in-jar as supports, it makes sense that taking a dip into Loki’s more genderbending side can play. Having Drax the Destroyer shout about his understanding of friendship (which shows up in my head as Dave Bautista’s voice) is just icing on the acorn cake.
The final issue of the partnership is a love letter to the lifelong companionship that Doreen and Nancy have. They spend a weekend stuck in super-ultra fast time, speeding around New York, living that lifetime while their friends (and everyone else) stay nearly frozen around them. At the center of the comic is the true love of two friends that pulls right to the heart of Squirrel Girl’s ultimate appeal: love is the center of who she is as a person and how she treats everyone around her, hero or villain alike. While fans will miss Henderson on the comic, this final story is a wonderful way to wrap up a 31-issue journey.