Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Book 1: Squirrel Power (#1-4, Marvel Super-Heroes vol. 2, #8)

"Yes this is awesooooome!" - Squirrel Girl

We're on an emotional roller coaster this month.  And after a couple of downbeat books about soldiers and wartime, it's time to cheer things right up again with some superhero whimsy and the volume one of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, first published under the now sadly defunct Marvel Now line which was a line-wide attempt to bring new readers to Marvel by rebooting and restarting most of their on-goings.  It got me well back into Marvel but the initiative seems to have been binned (same as the DC You was) post Secret Wars 2015. Anyway, first created in 1992 and appearing in a team-up with Iron Man where she beats Doctor Doom, Squirrel Girl has always been a light-hearted superheroine.  She has a squirrel tail, powerful teeth and great strength and agility as well as the ability to summon a great amount of squirrels to do her bidding.  She's bounced round the Marvel U for a long time, her most notable appearences as leader of the Great Lakes Avengers and then as part of the New Avengers as nanny to Jessica Jones and Luke Cage's daughter.  But this series sees her moving out of the Avenger's mansion with her faithful, be-ribboned squirrel companion "Tippy-Toe" to start college.  But that doesn't mean she's stopped fighting crime or other threats to the city and world. Read on and hopefuly be amused by writer Ryan North and artist Erica Henderson's charming and funny take on Doreen Green, the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (rather wonderfully this volume contains the letters pages as well, I say this now as it's the set up for a joke in the book later).
Squirrel Girl fighting crime.
It begins with Squirrel Girl hanging out in a park, she's singing a theme song to herself set to the tune of the old Spiderman cartoon (you know the one, goes "Spider-man, Spider-man, does whatever a spider can"). Some baddies mug a woman and Squirrel Girl, still singing, springs into action and biffs them.  She finishes them off and finishes her song and walks away as Tippy-Toe says, "Now if we could get anyone else to sing that song we'd be set."

She goes to her secret hideaway in the Avenger's Mansion to collect the last of her things as she is moving into her college digs today and the fact that Doreen Green is Squirrel Girl is "privileged information" now.  Tippy-Toe doesn't see why she needs to keep her identity a secret, "who doesn't like you?"  As Squirrel Girl changes she says, "jerks I guess".

Tippy-Toe asks if she needs help from the "squirrel army" to move her boxes, but Squirrel Girl says she is to act normal now, and tucks her tail into her trousers so it looks like she has a "large and conspicously awesome butt".  As she carries a huge pile of boxes, she tells Tippy-Toe that getting educated will let her help people more.

Tippy-To asks if she is studying crime, nope Squirrel Girl is taking computer science. Tippy-Toe is outraged she isn't going to major in squirrels, but Squirrel Girl says she knows literally everything about them.

Squirrel Girl: "I'm Squirrel Girl. I'm not Achieving Consistency Across Distributed Database Systems Girl".

On her way into the dorm she bumps into a handsome young man who introduces himself as Tomas and asks if she needs help with her boxes.  He says the boxes look really quite heavy and Squirrel Girl realises she's using her super-strength so she drops them and introduces herself.
Meeting Tomas.
Tippy-Toe chitters angrily, and Tomas asks if she knows him.  Squirrel Girl says Tippy-Toe is a she and her friend.  She tells Tippy-Toe Doreen Green doesn't talk to squirrels.  Tippy-Toe says is it Ok to lie to strangers about boxes that are too heavy?  Squirrel Girl says it is if they are trying to maintain an secret identity.  Tippy-Toe says that's not a very Squirrel Girl thing to do.  She pauses, then picks up the boxes and bids Tomas farewell for now.

She arrives in the room she is to be sharing with another girl.  She is already there and is a frowning black girl called Nancy Whitehead.  She says there are three things "Doreen" can do to get on her bad side, make fun of her name, criticise her hobby (knitting) and talk smack about her pet cat Mew.

Squirrel Girl says she thought pets weren't allowed in the dorms.  Nancy says "obeying an unjust law is itself unjust" and that Mew is the most important thing in her life.  I like Nancy already!  Squirrel Girl starts to unpack then suddenly sees Kraven the Hunter, an arch enemy of Spider-man outside and has to hurriedly run off and get changed.
Roommate Nancy.
She tells Nancy she has to fight Kraven the "uh.. college administrator".  And that he messed up her course selections.  Nancy pauses, then says to herself that he better not have messed up hers.

Kraven is standing in the grounds holding a squirrel that attacked him.  Squirrel Girl politely but firmly asks him to put the squirrel down.  He refuses and is about to crush it when Squirrel Girl dives on him from above.  He kicks her away and calls her "Prairie Dog Costume Woman" and then "Furry Woodland Creature Lady".

She kicks him and he grabs her feet and holds her upside-down.  He then tosses her aside and fires a sticky net to hold her in place.  But she bites through it and makes a chittering noise.  He asks her what she is saying and she says "sic him".

A whole horde of squirrels come rushing towards them.  He threatens to kill them all so she stops to talk tactics with them.  She realises they don't actually have a reason to be fighting. She starts to reason with him instead.  She says that he's convinced himself that only Spider-man can defeat him:

Squirrel Girl: "And you can't beat Spider-man... but you can't lose to him either, not in the way you want.  You think you have to go through life as a failure, because you can't die.  You can't live the life you want and you can't earn the death you deserve".

She then goes on to ask him why Spider-man?  Kraven says it's his speed and agility and strength.  But Squirrel Girl tells him that he's been limiting himself to the same beings he hunted as a mortal.  Why not try hunting the underwater monsters like Gigantos, Kraken, Giant Squid.  "Kraven there's no greater game" she tells him.
Better game for Kraven.
He considers this saying maybe he has been too focused on men shaped enemies.  Squirrel Girl says he'd be the greatest hunter in history if he took on these creatures.  He agrees and says he will focus on Earth's more dangerous game now and thanks her before leaving.  Squirrel Girl gets changed and returns to her room

Nancy tells her the course admin did mess up her course selections.  She holds up Mew and says she's going to kill the admin to her.  Another way Doreen can piss her off is judging her for talking to Mew, but Squirrel Girl says that's not a problem and introduces her to Tippy-Toe.

Nancy: "You know I was worried I'd get a weird roommate but you're all right Doreen Green".

Then another squirrel appears at the window and chitters at Tippy-Toe.  With great alarm, Tippy-Toe clambers up Squirrel Girl to get her full attention.
Everything about this picture makes me happy.
She plucks Tippy-Toe off her face and says to her the planet can't be in danger, but Tippy-Toe insists something is approaching the Earth.  Star gazing Squirrels everywhere are seeing the stars get blocked out. Squirrel Girl asks how long they have before it gets to Earth whatever it is and Tippy-Toe says a while yet.  So Squirrel Girl says she will have time to go to orientation then, "what's the worst that could happen?"  And the final panel of this first issue shows Galactus...

As he sneaks up on Earth inside his "Star Sphere" we are told "no one on Earth has the sliver of a chance of stopping him.. except, perhaps for one girl".  And we rejoin Squirrel Girl dragging Nancy to orientation with her.  It's not just a campus tour, there are booths for clubs!

Squirrel Girl says there might be a knitting club.  Nancy says she has interests besides knitting.  Mainly Mew.  Squirrel Girl says if there is no cat club they'll start one and the first rule will be you have to like Mew.  Nancy agrees and says the second rule will be they have to talk about how much they like Mew.

They bump into Tomas again, she starts telling him about her fight with Kraven but the story goes a bit wrong:

Tomas: "You fought a college admin this morning, and now he lives underwater and hunts sea-monsters?"

Squirrel Girl: "Yes.  Uh.. metaphorically.... so clubs huh?"

There then begins a conversation where he tells her about wanting to join fencing club but his voice is crowded out by her thought bubbles as she worries about all the lies she is telling already on day one and also that she's chatting up a hunk.  "Doreen?  Did my fencing club story lose you?" the poor guy finally says.
Tomas and a somewhat distracted Squirrel Girl.
Squirrel Girl is grabbed by Nancy and hides in the ladies bathroom.  Nancy gleefully tells her she was suffering from "hot babe overdose".  Squirrel Girl says she doesn't even know his second name, so Nancy opens the door and demands to know his full name which is Tomas Lara-Perez.  "You can thanks me later" says Nancy to a highly embarassed Squirrel Girl and leaves her alone.

Then Tippy-Toe appears and tells Squirrel Girl that it's the Star Sphere approaching Earth.  Apparently it has a stealth field which means only the squirrels can see it which is why no one else is freaking out. "Aaaand our best estimates kinda put him at arriving at Earth in two hours" says Tippy-Toe.  Squirrel Girl laments she has no time to join the anime club now, it's time to kick Galactus's butt.

She says she can't stop him on Earth so she'll have to engage him on the "gosh darned moon".  She's going to knock him down and take a selfie sitting on top of him.  She has a plan to get up there too.  She puts on her crime fighting costume and bounces across New York.

Her plan is to break into Stark/Avenger's Tower and borrow an Iron Man suit to get herself and Tippy-Toe to the moon. We get a flashback to the first (terrifying) appearance when she teamed up with Iron Man and she thinks to herself, "man, I think everyone made some awkward fashion choices when they were fourteen".  She uses her nails to cut an opening in the glass and crushes some acorns to highlight the protective lasers which she uses her super agility to travel through.
Squirrel Power!
The Hall of Armor is being guarded by two empty automated suits.  She manages to get the two suits to blast each other but then eight more appear and don't believe that she was lost on the way to find the toilets and she gets booted out.  Luckily this was part of her plan, she distracted the guard armour so her squirrels could steal away a suit for her.

She has a pile of pieces, and picks up a helmet and asks it to construct a suit for her and Tippy-Toe.  The helmet wants a password, which could be trouble but back when she helped Tony he said she only needed to say three words, "Victor Von Doomship" and the helmet comes online for her.

The pieces then float together into a Squirrel Girl shaped suit, including space for her tail.  Tippy-Toe gets a small suit of her own made of a helmet and gauntlet.  They put them on and start flying off to the moon, but in the park lurks danger in the form of  Whiplash. And he thinks he sees "Iron Man" alone and exposed as the countdown to Galactus's arrival drops to under an hour...
Iron Squirrel is go.
Nancy meanwhile has gone into the campus bank to get cash to buy some falafel.  Squirrel Girl passes overhead then gets knocked from the sky.  She sends the armour away to keep it safe and turns to face who attacked her.  It was Whiplash.

She says she doesn't have time to fight him now, he says because Stark trusted her to lend her armour, "I hurt you, I hurt Stark".  She says she just borrowed the armour and can they just talk about things like "well-adjusted, non-sociopathic adults?"  He just attacks her with his whips.

She dodges his attacks while telling him Galactus is on his way.  She shows him her Galactus trading card but he cuts it in half which pisses her off.  She calls a pack of squirrels who run up his whips and swarm over him until he is completely covered in them.  Then she punches him out and has fifty minutes to stop Galactus.
Dealing with Whiplash.
She calls the armour back down and suits up.  But then Tippy-Toe points out someone is robbing the campus bank and they have hostages.  Galactus will have to wait a little longer, Squirrel Girl has to protect her university's facilities!  Tippy-Toe is dubious because well, priorities but Squirrel Girl says:

Squirrel Girl: "We don't stop that robbery then we're saving a planet where crime pays and hostages get shot. No, that's not how it's gonna be."

Inside the bank, Nancy is one of the hostages.  When it looks like one of the other hostages is going to be shot, she bravely starts trash talking the robbers.  Before she can get hurt, a humanoid figure made up of many squirrels barges in.

The robbers are left panicking as they had no back-up for this eventuality. The squirrel man knocks out the robbers and frees a gleeful Nancy.  The squirrel man then brings the unconcious robbers out, and because it's Squirrel Girl inside the "suit" she tells Nancy she shouldn't have endangered herself back there. Nancy says she had to do something, and Squirrel Girl says to herself, "kick butt.  My roomate is so awesome".  As she heads back in to deal with the rest of the robbers, Nancy notices Tippy-Toe is part of the suit.

Inside, Squirrel Girl steps out of the Squirrel Suit and leaves it fighting them.  She and Tippy-Toe get suited up and fly off up to the moon.  The Iron Man suit seperates leaving her and Tippy-Toe in more manuoverable space suits.  And then Galactus arrives:

Squirrel Girl: " It's just you and me - Tippy-Toe, The Regular Squirrel With No Superpowers, Like At All - against Galactus, The God of Oblivion.  The Devourer of Worlds. I know it hardly seems fair. For him I mean".

And she leaps towards him...  The next issue begins with her sitting on the prone Galactus taking a selfie and then we get the letters page because obviously that's the end of the issue.
Galactus?  pfft a pushover.
Oh all right it was a bit more complicated than that.  And we jump back to her first engaging him.  She lands at his feet and starts hitting them.   She realises Galactus can't hear what she's saying because sound doesn't travel in space.

Tippy-Toe says surely someone who has the Power Cosmic can hear sound in space and Squirrel Girl decides he can hear their vibrations and puts her hands on his foot and tells him, "we're here to kick butt and eat nuts-" but before she can finish he picks her up.

Galactus: "And let me guess.  You are all out of nuts".

Squirrel Girl says that's about the gist of it, and Galactus can hear and understand both her and Tippy-Toe. He says for someone of his powers, understanding squirrels is no big deal.

After a short discussion on pronouns, Galactus says enough, he is here to kick butts and eat Earth. Squirrel Girl asks what happened to his Herald?  Galactus says he tried that before, turns out sending someone to warn he was coming meant there were people ready for him when he arrived.
Galactus has learned from his past mistakes.
Squirrel Girl tells him she can't allow him to eat Earth.  He says he doesn't know how she is going to stop him. She tells him she defeated Thanos once and it was totally the real one.  Galactus grins and says "Hah Hah. Nice.  What a tool." Then they all ponder the Earth in silence.

Galactus says to Squirrel Girl that he likes her because she treated him as a peer. And he likes Tippy-Toe as well and says she and Squirrel Girl are lucky to have each other.  Then he says it's time to eat the Earth.

Squirrel Girl: "But I thought we were bonding".

Galactus: "We were.  But a dude's got to eat".

He starts to fly off, Squirrel Girl flies after him and manages to get inside him.  They come across a huge Commodore 64 keyboard.  Now as every species sees Galactus differently it must apply to his insides as well.  Now she has to guess his password.

As he gets close to Earth Squirrel Girl yells to him that she knows his secret, why he keeps coming to Earth but not eating it.

Squirrel Girl: "...you don't defeat Galactus by being stronger. You don't defeat Galactus by being smarter, either.  The only way you ever defeat Galactus is by giving him what he wants.  A source of energy.  A planet he can eat".

She says he comes to Earth because he knows they'll drop everything to find him a planet he can eat without intelligent life and she's found him one. And it's covered in delicious nuts as well.  Spare the Earth and she'll take him there.  So they all fly off.
To the planet of nuts!
And after snacking on the planet of nuts they returned to the moon and while Galactus lay down to recover, Squirrel Girl took her selfie on top of him. He gets up and as a thankyou gives her a gift, it's a new Galactus trading card that lists him as "Devourer of Worlds.  Wielder of the Power Cosmic... and a friend".  Awwww.

He sends her and Tippy-Toe and the Iron Squirrel suit back to Earth.   Squirrel Girl sends the suit back to Stark Tower.  She checks in on the squirrels she left fighting the bank robbers, but they have triumphed.  Then it's time to rush to her first class.

She is late and seats herself next to Nancy who says she can copy her not-very-helpful notes. Nancy tells her she knows Squirrel Girl defeated the bank robbers earlier.  But it's really rad so Squirrel Girl's secret is safe with her. Squirrel Girl says she will show her something after class.  Nancy gets to be covered with Squirrels and has a mock fight with Squirrel Girl, "nobody is ever going to believe me" she says.  And that brings this first arc to an end.
Nancy knows Squirrel Girl's secret.
That's not quite it for the book as included is Squirrel Girl's first appearance in Marvel Team Up #8.  It's mainly just one long fight as Squirrel Girl shows off her super-powers and defeats Doctor Doom using her squirrel horde.  And I know Steve Ditko is a legend but man, his art was peculiar by this point.  Also the contrast between this old comic and the newer one shows just how much more characterisation modern comics have in comparison to the somewhat sterile battle orientated Marvel comics of the time.
GAH!  What the hell Steve?!
Anyway, I really loved this book.  Erica Henderson's art is simple but strong, with clean lines and characterful faces.  And isn't it great to have a woman superhero depicted with a curvey, muscular body rather than a stick insect with massive hooters.  I also like how her victories here are "earned".  Squirrel Girl in the past had tended to be a one-note joke, you'd see her attack then jump cut to her foe lying defeated, which they have parodied here with the Galactus "battle".  Her unabashed positivity and refusal to even see the bad side of a huge planet eating monster is very refreshing and I like how she is already having a hard time keeping her activites secret with Nancy finding out right away. I'm always appreciative of female friendships it gets tiring seeing women constantly set against each other and it looks like Nancy will be a firm friend.  Ryan North's writing is sharp, warm and funny and I truly love the inclusion of the letters pages too.  It's rare modern comics have letters pages, they were always a big part of comicbook fandom for me back in the day and I do wish the collections would maybe have a section at the end which collates all the letters pages together.  But that's probably not to be.  I don't know if Squirrel Girl still has her own series post Secret Wars 2015, but there is at least one more book in this Marvel Now series which will be showing up here at some point.  So if you need reminding just how much sheer fun comics can show, this is one to go for.


  1. Hooray; I'm enjoying cute rodent month on your channel.

    Ok, where to start. Once again this is a story where I like the cartoony art style. It really suits it and it's very well drawn. It's bugging me a bit because it really reminds me of something and I can't remember what!

    I like the story. It's cute and silly but not in an annoyingly cloying way. As you know I'm a bit bored with the overdone faux edginess of a lot of modern comics. This one though remembers that there's nothing wrong with just being fun and entertaining every now and again.

    I also feel quite included for once as I know of at least son of the characters here! Kraken used to crop up in the Ka-Zar stories that Shanna was in (she doesn't like hunters) and I've even heard of Squirrel Girl! Isn't she canonically the most powerful hero in the Marvel universe? (See, I'm not a complete ignoramus on US stuff!)

    I too adore that picture; and I'm sure we can all relate to having a squirrel in our face. I love squirrels notwithstanding it was only a few years back I learned that great squirrels weren't just old red squirrels. There were a lot who lived in London, including in my street. Sas used to love chasing them. But these were East need squirrels, so they'd just pull a blade on her if she got too close.

    I like SG's good natured approach to problem solving. Whilst I normally hate it when characters resort to non-violence, here it really suits the character. By the way, so you think Gargantua looks a bit like a Gary Larson depiction? I just hope he beats Kraven. I'm not sure I approve of diverting hunters just by recommending another victim. In my head canon I'm assuming SG is setting him up.

    Nancy is a great character too. Whilst I'd be quite happy for Pam Grier to be President it is nice to see a black female character who isn't just high kicking honkies in flared jeans or being the sassy wise cracking side kick "Mmmh Ummh, you kick his ass to the curb sister" sort of thing.

    It's also nice to see the idea of how a superhero copes in private life handled a bit differently. The non action side of the plot, although apparently not export in too great a depth here yet, probably has the potential to be as interesting as the normal superhero fare.

    I also think tippy toes is the best sidekick yet.

    1. Soz about the delayed response, was stuck in bed for a day. I too love squirrels, when I lived in Manchester the driveway had big trees down it and a colony of grey squirrels lived in it. It was then I observed that the diet of the modern urban squirrel was not nuts but old pizza and kebab!

      It's an adorable comic all round, I like superheroes who have a decent balance of "work" and normality. University is ripe for some fun interactions, like Nancy and poor clueless Tomas. I wanna see Tippy-Toes (definitely an awesome sidekick) hanging out with Mew now.

    2. Hey you're alive! Cool. Sorry to hear you've been under the weather; hope you're feeling a bit better now. Although I do remember from that Batman Year One thing Bruce Wayne used to pretend to be in bed all day. Hmmm?

      *checks local rag again for stories of mysterious crime busting*

      Yeah, a tippy toes / mew team up would be great. I'd rather like to see them having their own crime fighting partnership; but with nobody knowing. I fancy the irony of people knowing about SG but not them two. Lots of headscratching about mysterious events and everyone ignoring the snoozing cat and nut (or kebab) chomping squirrel.

      And thanks Malitia for explaining the somewhat convoluted title naming conventions. In a way though it's quite nostalgic. I didn't understand Marvel titles when I wad a kid either (seriously, why so many different spiderman comics?)

    3. I LIIIIVE! It wasn't anything serioes, just my back decided to act up. SO I used it as an excuse to lie flat for a day and catch up with my TV watching. Viewed all of "True Detective" S1 and the rest of "Jessica Jones" which has inspired me to start reading her comic book now.

      As I think you'll recall from discussing "Supreme" I'm a big fan of superheroes pets wheter they have powers or not. When Grant Morrison was writing Batman Inc. He and Damian ended up with a dog, a cat and a cow all living happily in the Batcave. It was adorable and really helped me realise Damian was my fave Robin.

      Yeah thanks again to Malitia. DC used to be so simple with it's numbering, then in 2011 they restarted everything at 1. Then they did a soft reboot with the DC You (RIP) which added a load of series I really liked. Then did another reboot this year called the DC Rebith which again started everything at 1, canelled pretty much all the series I loved or kept them but kicked the creative teams of them, and I think for Action comics and Detective Comics has gone back to the previous to the New 52 numbering so they can reach 1000. *head spins*

    4. Has anyone ever done anything with just the animals?

      I seem to recall there have been stories where it's just the villains chilling out together so everyone is recounted from their perspective. I'd love the idea that every now and then all the superhero pets just get together and hang. Some great opportunities to re-interpret some of the claims stories from their point of view; especially if it traps soothes they were (or at least believed they were) central to events.

      Also could have some great visuals. I'd like to see Hound Supreme playing poker.

    5. All this talk about super pets... you might be interested in the...

      *dramatic pause*


      *runs away*

    6. They wasted the money on three Iron Man movies when they could have been filming that!

      Thanks for that link; that's brilliant. I love the bit where they won't let Wolverine join. And it's nice to see they got their own mansion. That's sort of what I envisaged as a place they could meet up and chill.

      But I'm particularly pleased Zabu is a member; he's one of my favourite animal companions.

    7. I found this blog that takes a look at DC's Superpets and shows the cover of their team-up as the Legion of Superpets and also looks at the Marvel Pet Avengers too.


    8. Hey you're alive! Cool. Sorry to hear you've been under the weather; hope you're feeling a bit better now. Although I do remember from that Batman Year One thing Bruce Wayne used to pretend to be in bed all day. Hmmm?

      *checks local rag again for stories of mysterious crime busting*

      Yeah, a tippy toes / mew team up would be great. I'd rather like to see them having their own crime fighting partnership; but with nobody knowing. I fancy the irony of people knowing about SG but not them two. Lots of headscratching about mysterious events and everyone ignoring the snoozing cat and nut (or kebab) chomping squirrel.

      And thanks Malitia for explaining the somewhat convoluted title naming conventions. In a way though it's quite nostalgic. I didn't understand Marvel titles when I wad a kid either (seriously, why so many different spiderman comics?)

  2. "I don't know if Squirrel Girl still has her own series post Secret Wars 2015"

    She has.

    The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl was one of the "Marvel NOW!" (it was technically part of "Avengers NOW!"... damn you Marvel and your stupid "season" names*) titles that got relaunched (meaning new #1 but everything continued as nothing happened) in the next initiative and it also continues uninterrupted in the current one.

    So Squirrel Girl's series already run approx 22 issues (23 if I include both parts of the crossover with Howard the Duck) at the time of this comment's writing, and there are I think 4 collections.

    Oh, and a standalone graphic novel.

    She also got on the roster of the ANADM "New Avengers" series and will continue to be on that team in the M-NOWer! U.S.Avengers one (Same team Marvel just plans to relaunch&rename it). That's more traditional superhero fare though.

    * Marvel does a sort of end of the year launch/relaunch wave/initiative thingy. It went like this in the last couple of years:
    2012 - Marvel NOW!
    2013 - All New Marvel NOW!
    2014 - Avengers NOW!
    2015 - All-New, All-Different Marvel (ANADM for sort)
    2016 - Marvel NOW! (just started. It's the one with the shattered logo. I'll call it M-NOWer!)

  3. ... must resist... I... can't...

    Okay, so in that more straightforward superhero comic, there is still a villain Doreen defeats by convincing a bunch of rats to start a union. (Because even rats have rights! And need healthcare! And hazard cheese!)

    This second comment is brought to you by my irrational love for the current New Avengers which isn't shared by many. ^^;

    1. Malita thank you so much for explaining the Marvel seasons thing. I've been a bit clueless in my knowledge of how modern Marvel works because I've only fairly recently started reading Marvel again. And so pleased to hear SG still has her own title. I'm an abused DC Lifer so I am used to awesome titles getting cancelled after like 12 issues. Sometimes I think I am the kiss of death to DC series. Your little taster makes me think I might have to check out her adventures in the New Avengers too, sounds hilarious!

    2. I don't want to imply that Marvel isn't guilty of cancelling promising titles early.

      The ANADM Weirdworld series only survived 6 issues for f*s sake... which is basically a very good "and now the adventure starts" arc. :/ Yeah, I read that and it got cancelled on me. ^^;

      Well, New Avengers (I think the collections are titled "New Avengers - A.I.M.", written by Al Ewing) is a team book with a fairly large cast so Doreen is sadly out of focus a lot. It also has a very 90s-meets-anime artist on it for a good chunk of the time and then a more traditional one (meaning bodytypes slip to the more "traditional" a lot). :/ Also on the writing side it's old-school and sort of British (for example on the plus side this means short arcs on the minus occasionally questionable humor).

      It's a divisive title for several reasons. ^^;

  4. Ooh well I'm British, and I liked Al Ewing's UK stuff as well has his work on Jennifer Blood, and I do have a questionable sense of humour... I'll look out for the latest New Avengers now for sure. Helps you've named me the writer, it seems to be the best way to keep track of where a series is in relation to how it's been reluanched/rebooted/renumbered. :)

    1. Well yeah. 'Title - year/initiative - writer' is my general way of keeping track. ^^; I don't have much of a problem with renumbering or with continuous numbering, changing/keeping titles... just please, they should choose one and do that consistently.

      If you want to see what chaos results when they don't, I can explain for example the numbering and title change of "Journey into Mystery" / "Thor". It has things like JiM X and Thor v2 Y both also technically being Thor v1 X. *Where-did-all-the-EVEN-go?!*

      In my humble opinion, Al Ewing is one of Marvel's best writers currently (and The Living Avatar of the Marvel Wiki) I would also recommend his Loki: Agent of Asgard... but that's much better if you read Kieron Gillen's Journey into Mystery and Young Avengers runs first. (Seriously. Loki:AoA is a series that has an editor's note apologizing for all the editor's notes. ^^;)

  5. I've had Kieron Gillen's Journey Into Mystery recommended to me before, so I'll add that to my ever growing list of things to get ahold of next year. DC have made it so there's only a couple of titles left I am interested in (Hellblazer and Gotham Academy) so Marvel can fill the gap.

    1. Kieron Gillen's Journey into Mystery is responsible for one of the scariest developments of the Marvel universe.


      Loki discovered the internet!

    2. Hah, scary indeed. I can imagine him being the ultimate Twitter troll and trolling other heroes who have social media accounts :D

  6. "Younger readers like stories about animals and pets more than older readers."

    Hey pal, speak for yourself!

    That was a nice little summary though. Maybe it's time to resurrect the superpet. Works well with the hound supreme so there might be a market out there. Got to be better than all that darker and edgier nonsense. More animals in capes is what I say! How do I set up one of those government petition thingies?

    The diversion into sense of smell as a superpower was intriguing. Didn't we decide that would be your special power?

    But I really would like to see more animal tales in comics. Every possible human iteration of storytelling has been done to death, so more power to their paws I say

  7. I don't mind dark and edgy stuff when it's done well like say by Garth Ennis or early-to-mid period Alan Moore but when it's virtually ALL that's being done I get bored. Which is why I always ragged so hard on The New 52 and have been such a cheerleader for the DC You. I'm reserving judgement on the DC Rebirth for now, but as they cancelled pretty much every title I was following and have removed the creative teams from the one that are being continued, eh... I'm not happy.

    Like I said before, Grant Morrison gave Batman a dog, cat and cow all living in the Batcave. No superpowers though. He'd be the writer I'd most expect to try and sneak Streaky The Supercat back into something. If we're talking about humanoid animals he rescued Captain Carrot and The Zoo Crew from their awful fate in Final Crisis and I just finished The Multiversity, which has Captain Carrot (he's a superman/bunny cross) in it as well.

  8. Well I suppose Batman's pets wouldn't need superpowers; they'd just be especially badass normals. The cow probably spent years disguised as a yak in a Tibetan monastery learning kung fu or something.

    I wonder how this constant and confusing multiple relaunch and cancellations actually affects their sales? I can see how they're trying to attract new readers but I literally wouldn't have a clue if I wanted to get into marvel or dc as to where to start. I'm guessing their new readers are drawn in for the films so they need to tie in that way somehow. But then you get into all that confusion over film 'canon' versus the original characters. There was a similar thing after the first Dredd film (which I secretly like). Fleetway launched a dress comic in the states that was aimed at a younger audience and was more in line with the films characterisation. Not sure how long it lasted, but that probably didn't bother them. No doubt there are standard 'shelf life' caliculatiins for tie in products. Unless you can tie it into a franchise with a lot of expanded unsiverse potential like Alien it's just going to be a bit of a temporary trend until the next blockbuster comes along.

    I can see Grant Morrison being the guy who'd handle that well. Of course if we do get animals back in vogue it won't be long before they get darker and edgier too. Stand by the find out it was Krypto who manoverd the Joker into crippling Barbara Gordeon because she'd smacked his nose once for messing up the carpet.

    1. From what I know they always sell more from #1s (because of old 90s habits and business practices; like these are the issues most likely to get variant covers and other advertisement push etc.).

      I think relaunching isn't even that bad of an idea if it really marks a milestone. (I mean an "X writer told their epic tale, now that Y takes over with a new vision let's restart the numbering" kinda thing.)

      I know that Marvel's cancellation limit is around 20 000 units on the Diamond sales chart... when a series goes lower than that it's generally only allowed to run 2-3 issues more. There are some other factors, like good collection or digital sales can save a series (Squirrel Girl is an example), or if they find a different distributor for it (rumor has it for example that they sell a lot of Moon Girl comics through Scholastic).

      Marvel's general policy nowadays seems to be "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" (meaning they have a "lot" of experimental books that probably won't last long but have a chance to attract a cult following) combined with "If it's worth doing, it's worth overdoing too" (and that's why there is so much Spider-Man and Deadpool).

      Occasionally they hit gold so to speak with the "try everything" approach (current Ms. Marvel, Spider-Gwen, etc.) and those characters get promoted into the "now overdo it" category.

  9. The general idea of relaunches for Marvel and DC is to try and tempt in new readers, but it never seems to work, leading to a panic and retrenchment back into only catering to the older more dedicated readers, then trying again to get younger (by younger I mean older teens and twenties, the kid comic market is essentially dead now) ones back in and then panic and rollback and so on.

    Manga has been the real killer, it appeals to younger readers and the female market DC/Marvel have not been able to entice in any great numbers into superhero fandoms. When women do read western comics it's pretty much indy stuff like Saga, The Walking Dead, The Lumberjanes and so on as well as stuff like The Sandman, Ex Machina, Fables and other Vetrigo (which to be fair is a DC mature readers inititative that went right, started and run for many years by a woman ofc).

    If you go into Forbidden Planet the layout pretty much says where DC/Marvel rank now in their sales outlook, you have to walk through the Manga section and past the Indie one until right at the back are the superhero comics. I can't remember where I read it, but someone high up in Marvel said the comics were pretty much just IP generators now for the TV and film parts of their empires.

    Oh and you might be right about darker and edgier superpets. Read the first entry on this list for the sad story of Wonderdog: http://www.cracked.com/article/151_5-superheroes-rendered-ridiculous-by-gritty-reboots/

  10. Good grief, that Wonderdog story! You know, I thought I was just being a bit facetious and having a minor grumble about the dark/edgy trend. But it looks like Poes Law applies to comics too. I'm now looking forward to a Scooby Doo/Punisher crossover.

    All the stuff about sales figures is interesting. I'm wondering whether we'll see something I'm comics analogous to the music industry.

    In t'old days the cost of recording, manufacturing and distributing records and CDs acted as a bit of a filter. Even indie sales had to reach a certain number to be viable. So that squeezed out some of the more niche stuff. Now even laptop back bedroom production can give as good a result as Abbey Road studios and you can publish straight to the Web for download. With the use of digital drawing or just scanning art you can do the same thing with comics. I suspect we'll see download only releases from major brands pretty soon. If that allows a move away from homogeneous lowest common denominator stuff that as you say is effectively just marketing material for movies an TV that could be a nice move.

    I think the technical term is narrowcasting. It's especially good for the creators as it allows them to keep control of their own product without sacrificing the IP rights.

    1. "I'm now looking forward to a Scooby Doo/Punisher crossover."

      The only reason why that probably won't happen is because Scooby-Doo is a Warner (so DC) property while the Punisher is Marvel (so Disney)... but other than that behold 'Scooby Apocalypse'!

      "I suspect we'll see download only releases from major brands pretty soon."

      Most publishers (yes. Even Marvel and DC) already have digital first ("there will be a dead tree version... eventually") and digital only comics. ^^;

  11. One of my major frustrations is that Marvel/DC unlike the Indies still have a bit of an obsession with the single issue sales figures, and have been slow to factor in digital sales and STILL don't take trade sales into consideration. Which always makes me feel like a bit of a fraudulent fan because I can only afford to "trade wait". Indie comics don't seem to have the same problem. It's doubly bizarre because the majority of "dead tree" comicbook sales are now in places like Waterstones, which of course only deal in trades. I have to admit, I reckon there will always be a market for physical trade paperback releases, especially the ones done as luxury hardbacks, same way viynl records have seen a resurgence in this era of digital music.

    The Punisher might not be able to crossover with Scooby-Doo but he did once crossover with "Archie". It worked suprisingly well. Better than his teammup with Eminem.

  12. Oh that Scooby Doo story is wonderful! I love the character designs; especially Scooby. It's updated but with a real appreciation for the originals. It's also one of the best renditions of Scooby speak to text that I've encountered.

    It's probably a generalisation but I think post modern takes on classics fall broadly into two camps. There's just an attempt to to subvert for the sake of it. So you can imagine some guys sat in a room saying "I know, here's a classic kids thing, let's just add some sex and violence. That'll show em" It's almost like this 'edge lord' pehenomenon that I've come across. Shock for shock's sake. But I remember early punk and swastikas. You're not even being offensive, youre just being silly, like a toddler yelling a rude world they don't understand but enjoying the reaction.

    Then there's work done by people with a real affection for the originals. The first live action Scooby movie did that well I think. Yes, it subverted some of the original tropes, but in a fun way that showed a true understanding of what made the thing great in the first place. It's like the Galaxy Quest thing. To over simplify, it's the difference between laughing at and laughing with.

    I was thinking about this the other day when I caught the new Thunderbirds. I was about to go into "grumble mutter, ruined my childhood" mode; but it's just so well done and there are just enough little things to let you know that the producers 'get it'. Like the fact one of the ships is called "TV21" and there's a lemon squeezer as part of the background. Also Tin-Tin is now head of security (although no longer called tin-tin for some reason). There's also a nice touch where they find one of the old hats "Wow, I can't believe we used to wear these" but then wearing that hat saves the day. It's a nice little tribute and an acknowledgement that new isn't necessarily better.

    And that Archie Punisher thing :-)

    Must confess I only know about Archie by cultural osmosis but that lead me to have a look around and I ended up reading the Predator story too. That was really funny. I'd always thigh Archie was just a kids comic but clearly it isn't. Although again it avoids falling into the trap of confusing 'adult' in the way faux edgy teenagers regard it as opposed to 'mature' in the sense of has a bit of depth. Although Betty and Veronica do seem to lose their clothes a lot.

  13. Oh, and there's probably an essay to be written about the parallels between music and comics in terms of sales and marketing.

    The charts didn't count downloads for quite a while, but now of course they account for the majority of sales.

    Heh, there's a "chap" band (formed by some of the ex members of throbbing gristle) and they released a single that was only available as download or Edison Cylinder.

  14. Yes, quietly in it's own corner of the market, the Archie comics have been doing a lot to add diversity to them. Not my cup of tea, but I'm still pleased they're out there doing it.

    I have quite a few Throbbing Gristle albums, I was/am well into electronic music and Throbbing Gristle was one of the pioneers. Got quite a few rare Psychic TV records as well. Genesis P. Orridge fascinates me and I wasn't surprised to find out he's gone full on genderqueer.

  15. Now I want to go on a Tangerine Dream and Mark Shreeve bender.

    *starts humming assault on precinct 13 theme*

    Yeah Genesis is an interesting chap(ess). That doesn't surprise me either. He was never one to be constrained by conventional attitudes to identity. Some interesting views on occult matters too. Of course I can see why that combination made him concerned when all the Satanic Panic/Cleveland stuff was going on. Can see why he kept his head down then.

    Speaking of diversity, I've just watched two hours of blooming parliamentary committee evidence about BBC Monitoring (that's the organisation that tracks foreign media and YouTube etc for the intelligence services and MOD) to get a bit of background material. It was actually less boring than it sounds. I'm definitely thinking more about trying it as a comic initially though. It's actually your blog that's convinced me that's a viable route; so thank you once again.

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  17. IIRC the tabloids and police absolutely raked Genesis and his gang over during the Satanic panic, confiscated a lot of valuable occult material and pretty much forced him to flee to the USA where he's lived ever since.

    Sounds like you're compiling plenty of interesting source material for a comic, also now crowd funding exists it's easier for people to put stuff out independant of the major companies.

  18. You do indeed RC. It's so weird now to think the US as a place of sanctuary for lifestyles like that. That was a particularly horrible moral panic though because of all the families lives ruined. Now down here paganism is on the school curriculum (we've actually got a pagan state school) and when the Daily Mail complained the Bishop of Truro defended the schools. Plus la change.

    Yeah, getting all the background together. Still got the story issues. How do you express the mundane without being boring? The whole point is it's not exciting. But so long as people care about the characters I suppose. And I think I can get that. It's just about managing expectations. So long as no-one is tricked into thinking anything's actually going to happen. :-)

  19. THe worst thing about that moral panic was the fact kids really suffering abuse would be disbelieved for a long time after. Wasn't a great time in the history of child protection in our country.

    I personally find the mundane interesting when it's contrasted with the exciting. One of my fave comic series is Gotham Central which has the minutia of being a cop contrasted with all the weirdos at large in Gotham.