The War of the Realms: a battle waged across the ten realms and its final battle joined on Midgard. Every hero of the Marvel Universe engaged in defending the planet, fighting for their lives. In one corner of Manhattan, Doreen Green is caught up in the attack and sent to her home country of Canada to find and fight the Frost Giants of Jotunheim, stopping their spread across North America. If only a chaotic, shape-shifting Norse squirrel god hadn’t gotten herself involved.
As always, writer Ryan North takes characters who readers think they know and turn them on their head. No other writer presents Loki quite like North. While the rest of the world sees him as selfish and manipulative, he truly has a soft spot for Squirrel Girl and the Squirrel Scouts. He truly cares for Nancy Whitehead, Doreen’s partner in stopping crime, and keeps her safe as he sends Doreen off to Canada, to her parents’ house to seek the Frost Giants.
USG, at its heart, is about its characters. The individuals, the actions they take, and the lives they touch. Through Doreen’s influence, Ratatoskr (the Asgardian god of chaos who also is a squirrel) works towards saving the world. Even while she (potentially) betrays Squirrel Girl, Ratatoskr searches herself for meaning.
This volume also contains what might be my favorite pages ever printed in a comic. North uses Robert Frost’s “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” to narrate Squirrel Girl’s introspection on her duty as a hero. Without Derek Charm’s pitch-perfect illustrations and Rico Renzi’s colors, the scene might feel cliche. The artistry in the storytelling on these pages brought me to tears.
In all of its issues, North’s Unbeatable Squirrel Girl has centered on relationships. This volume compounds on that legacy with not only Loki trusting Squirrel Girl to take on his Frost Giant Kin, but the rehabilitation of Ratatoskr — now investigative reporter Rachel Oskar — sowing her own chaos through tearing down corruption within political systems. The volume also contains issue #42 (really #50) where artists Erica Henderson and Naomi Franquiz join Charm in telling a story through time that highlights the life-long companionship between Doreen and Nancy. Like all great relationships, their story will live on beyond the immediate moment. Unfortunately, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl will not. This call from my squirrelfriend isn’t letting me down easy. Marvel, it’s time we had a talk.
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