For the first time, Squirrel Girl is involved in one of those “universe-shaking events” that we’re always hearing about. Rather than sit on the sidelines or just not be mentioned at all until everything is over and done with and recapped on the tweet page or in footnotes, Doreen Green has joined the fight in The War of the Realms. Midgard is swarming with Frost Giants, Regular Giants, Dark Elves, Demon-Things-Which-Are-Literally-On-Fire, Bat-Winged-Siberian-Tigers, and more. The world’s mightiest heroes are up to their spandex in battles while those left over from the destruction of Asgard fight alongside them for the sake of the ten realms. Where does Squirrel Girl fit into all of this? Why, Canada, of course.
Squirrel Girl’s longtime friendship with Loki is the impetus for her inclusion here. Loki has had a significant role in the lead-up to this war, and is heavily featured in issue #1 of The War of the Realms. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #43 takes place moments before the big to-do in that issue, with a quick stopover in The Negative Zone to conveniently keep all of Squirrel Girl’s friends out of harm’s way for a while. Loki grabs Doreen from the alt-dimension, asking for her help to take down the Frost Giants who have claimed all of North America for their own. With a secret base hidden in the wilds of Canada, they plan to rule the continent once Earth falls before Malekith’s forces. If Squirrel Girl can stop them, maybe Earth has a shot at surviving the war.
Before I get to the Canadian section of the book, Loki here is set up as the tragic hero we all know him to be. Doreen is pissed that he’s been working with the bad guys and he is properly ashamed, despite his claim to have been trying to defeat Malekith from the inside. In fact, Loki’s deep caring for Nancy Whitehead, Doreen’s best friend, is one of the things that truly moves him. He fears for her safety and knows he may not make it to the end of this particular tale to see her again. It’s a face of Loki we rarely see in the major comics: a vulnerable Loki admitting his faults and feelings. His sincerity and Doreen’s uncanny ability to get the absolute truth out of anyone convinces her to allow herself to be transported to Canada, right outside her parents’ house and their Oak Tree Ultron.
Oh, I’m sorry. Did you miss that part? Oak. Tree. Ultron. And it is currently defending Squirrel Girl’s parents and their town from the truly dumb forces of the Frost Giants. This is the best comic in the multiverse, y’all. Well, Doreen’s mom has lovingly sewed her a new, winter costume that will be the hit of cold-weather cosplayers for years to come. When Squirrel Girl finally finds the lair of the Frost Giants, she is met by an old adversary who may thwart her plans to thwart their plans: Ratatoskr, Asgardian god of gossip and shape-shifting fire-squirrel. This will definitely put a damper on plans.
As always, writer Ryan North has penned a clever and loving script that weaves deeply personal relationships in with funny quips and rich characterization. Derek Charm’s art is perfect for Squirrel Girl and he gets the chance to draw some great full page shots with dynamic panels in each. Squirrel Girl as a character has to have the right team working to make her both believable as a hero and still charming enough to get away with the ridiculous stuff that goes on in her immediate orbit. With North and Charm, USG has the chance to take her to new heights of importance in the overarching comic story. If her inclusion in The War of the Realms — even on the periphery — is any indication, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl will be a significant player in the Marvel Universe for years to come.