Ladies month continues and it's Valentine's Day as well. So what better way to deal with this special day than seeing how Doreen Green aka Squirrel Girl deals with the wacky world of online dating. Squirrel Girl has the strength and agility of a squirrel and can also speak to them. She has a constant squirrel companion called Tippy-Toe as well. In her non-superhero life she is a computer science student along with her best friend and housemate Nancy, who is a very down-to-earth normal human regularly dragged into Squirrel Girl's daft adventures. Squirrel Girl picks up an unwanted admirer in the main three part arc in this book with a one-shot involving her dreaming about using her advanced math skills to defeat various villains and another a "choose your own adventure" where you, yes YOU can be Squirrel Girl. The series is written by Ryan North and is mostly drawn by Erica Henderson. Jacob Chabot draws issues #11 but manages to stay true to the style of the book. As per usual, the previous issue's events are summarised by a twitter feed and the letters pages have been left inside the trade which I am going to say for the zillionth time is a brilliant idea that more comics should do. Anyway enough of that, let's continue with a chance to take a walk in her very comfortable shoes.
It starts with her facing a villain called "Bonehead" causing trouble at a farmers market. The choices are to physically attack him, which doesn't work or send squirrels down his pants which does work. Then Squirrel Girl checks her twitter feed and she has two options: help detective Corson take on Doctor Yes who wants to hold the world to ransom with a killer disease. Or help him fight the eldritch god Quoggoth in Central Park, who "wants to bring gibbering madness to this fallen realm".
Choosing to battle Quoggoth brings Squirrel Girl to a giant many tentacled being with lots of eyes. Squirrel Girl says all those eyes make it have "100% weak points." But Quoggoth wraps her in a tentacle saying he can stop her getting to his eyes. It can't stop a hundred squirrels though and Tippy-toe and friends attack. This defeats Quoggoth, releasing Squirrel Girl and allowing it to be arrested.
Choosing to take on Doctor Yes finds her facing off against a man holding the only sample of "Deathbringer 8000, a Doomsday virus of my own invention". If his ransom demands aren't met he'll release it. Squirrel Girl asks him if it works on squirrels. Doctor Yes says of course not, so Tippy-Toe grabs the virus capsule and eats it. Doctot Yes is arrested and Detective Corson says thanks no matter which path you took. The other incident also being resolved "through good old-fashioned police work".
Squirrel Girl and Tippy-Toe carry on with their day. Suddenly they hear a buzzing noise. Squirrel Girl has two options, either investigate or go home and study. The study harder path unfortunately leads to a non standard gameover as she forgets to fight any crime and also eat.
Investigating the buzzing noise takes her to the supervillain "Swarm" a man made up of a swarm of bees. He says he has done his research and knows her weaknesses. He planned his attack for today when all other heroes had been lured away so by the time he returns he'll have taken over New York. Squirrel Girl has two options, attack with punches; which doesn't work. Or attack with squirrels, which also doesn't work.
|Some choices to make.|
Unfortunately he is resistant to both her rhetoric and her butt kicking capabilities. Squirrel Girl is vexed to find she is losing "this never happens" she says to Tippy-Toe. But then she realises that they can summon a hero he wasn't prepared for, "the unsinkable Koi Boi". He either ignores his phone which results in gameover, or he answers it and agrees to come help.
There are several options now. Koi Boi and Squirrel Girl lure Swarm to the sea. Or make like beekeepers and smoke Swarm out. Or use pollen to take control of the bees. The smoke option doesn't work as it is used to make bees gorge themselves on honey from a burning hive and "there's no honey here, heroes!" This results in a gameover as does the attempt to use pollen to break his telepathic hold on the bees.
Fortunately the option for Koi Boi to splash Swarm with a giant wave does work, weighing the bees down and causing Swarm to fall apart. They sweep the bees into rubbish sacks and take them to the local police station saying the bees aren't bad just Swarm so if they keep the bees apart in a well misted cell with lots of bee treats they should be OK. She also hands over the queen bee in a jar who she thinks Swarm lives inside.
|Combined they beat the Swarm.|
This issue wraps up by returning to Galactus eating Earth. But he says it's actually a cake he decorated to look like a planet using the power cosmic. Also he doesn't need to eat planets now, he has a "life energy inversion thig going on". Anyway he wasn't paying attention much but if we got this far we must have been a "pretty rad Squirrel Girl so good job on that." He leaves us with a cut out n'keep coupon saying how rad we are at being Squirrel Girl and how the bearer of this card should be given free snacks. "Thanks for reading my comic" he says, "Peace."
|The New Avengers|
But eighty years later twenty-four were found and so they were taken off the extinction list. Scientist collected pairs of the lobsters and bred them in captivity. The giant ant is listening to her story as well, and when she asks if it was born in a lab it nods. And she asks if it accidentally got loose and exposed to cosmic rays which made it giant? It nods again. She says it's probably just hungry and it nods again. She hugs its head and says "problem solved guys".
They supply it with some trees to nibble on and when asked how she knew all this, Squirrel Girl says she spends some nights refreshing wikipedia's random article page-link. So they will keep it fed until Ant-Man arrives to shrink it back down, so the rest of the New Avengers will take it from here. Squirrel Girl and Chipmunk Hunk take their leave, he's happy he got to tag along. She says everyone is allowed the occasional plus one, Hawkeye once brought his dog and Power Man his high school English teacher.
She says they should go back to base but Chipmunk Hunk, real name Tomas, says he has plans. He admits he has a date and that renders Squirrel Girl speechless, then she runs off blabbering that she is super cool with that and to have fun. We then cut to Doreen with Nancy as she yells "I'm super not cool with this, Nancy!!"
Nancy tells her straight that she's had a crush on Tomas for over a year and done nothing, "what did you expect would happen." Doreen grumbles quietly that he'd ask her out, declare his undying love so she wouldn't have to be the first to say anything and risk rejection.
|Nancy doesn't sugar coat.|
Nancy: "Oh no! If only there were some way to meet romantic partners, perhaps some vast and international information network. Here's how we're gonna solve your problem Doreen Green... you're going to try online dating".
Doreen gets excited by this saying it's going to be super great and she will go on some fun dates with boys. Unfortunately she has some trouble writing a dating profile and tries to give the whole thing up as a "huge pain and boys aren't nearly worth it. The end."
Nancy and Ken aka Koi Boi are with her and Nancy says how hard can this be for someone who punched Galactus on the moon? Doreen says she knew what she was doing then, but she has no idea what to say to make boys like her. Tippy-Toe offers help as do the others. They'll write her a profile each and she'll use the one she likes best. Doreen agrees, offering some descriptive words she wants them to include.
The profiles are written, Doreen read them and puts her head in her hands. She tells them it was sweet of them to help but she'd rather never kiss a dude again than deal with dating profiles. Ken says it would help if they new if she was dating as Doreen or Squirrel Girl. She says neither is good option, either they want her because of her powers or they'll find out on the awkward third date.
Nancy says she will make two profiles and they can combine the best of the two of them. With that done, Doreen can check out some profiles and message anyone who seems interesting and go on some dates. Grumpily Doreen agrees. Then asks the two of them how come they don't go on dates. Nancy says she is focusing on her studies and Ken says he already dates with optimum efficiency.
We then get a two page spread of Doreen going on a bunch of dates. This includes a villain called "Fancy Dan". A boy who thinks squirrels are vermin. Another criminal called "Boomerang". The Human Torch who sets the sprinklers off on their date. A man who is phobic of squirrels and a Sentinel.
She says that he isn't a superhero with the powers of a hawk and a jock? Just the jock part he says. When she lists of traits hawks have he just responds with totally normal reactions. Then he laughs saying she thought he had powers. She admits briefly that she did. He says he is into her cosplay:
Brad: "... you gotta know that all that superhero stuff is fake, man! Superheroe don't exist."
Turns out Brad is a superhero "truther". He says he will email her some literature about how they put things in the water to make people believe in superheroes. Doreen says she will take him to meet some of the people he doesn't believe exist then they will never date again.
But Brad keeps going saying Thor is just a series of paid actors all playing a role. When Doreen says Thor is a woman now, Brad ponders that the previous dude must have found out something he wasn't supposed to. Doreen starts to leave but then with a might boom a corkscrew points up through the ground with the aged "Mole Man" standing on it backed up by a multi-headed monster.
|Mole Man crashes her bad date.|
She gives Mole Man a punch and then consults her Deadpool Villain Cards to check him out. As she fends off the multi-headed Mole Monsters she demands to know why he is even fighting her, he doesn't seem to have anything against squirrels or girls. He fights back calling her a "hoyden" which he has to clarify as a saucy or boisterous woman and other outdated slang.
We then get a page recounting how Squirrel Girl had tangled with Kraven The Hunter and at the end of their encounter she had persuaded him to go hunting underwater leviathans instead of spidered men. But Kraven needed money to do this and went hunting in the employ of others but again Squirrel Girl stopped him and she persauded him to hunt those who hunt others and so Kraven has been a thorn in Mole Man's side ever since, "and it's all due to your meddling Squirrel Girl!!!" It's bad enough the human world dumps its rubbish underground but Kraven is a bridge too far:
Mole Man: "...I can bear these indignities no longer. I've thus taken it upon myself to end all such insults... by securing the destruction of the surface world!!"
Calling him Harvey, Squirrel Girl says that what she did to him was unintentional but he says it's just as bad if she did it through carelessness.
He says he is going to rend her and the world asunder, but she holds out her hand and says she is really sorry. This throws Mole Man off balance. He asks if she accepts his version of events and she says she accepts "the truth of your lived experiences and I'm not going to tell you that your feelings are wrong." And they shake hands.
|Mole Man is enchanted.|
He says he'd be happy to be forgotten if surface dwellers left him alone. Squirrel Girl agrees with him saying all the stuff that gets buried must be a pain, even graveyards. He rants that "anything the surface world tires of gets tossed in a dump, and when that's full? Why, they just cover it with a layer of soil and call it a day". Squirrel Girl says he must be sick of it.
Mole Man: "You... you understand me in a way nobody else ever has."
Run Squirrel Girl, run! But she doesn't run, she tells Mole Man that connecting with people is "kinda my thing". She says she is glad they are getting along and he agrees calling her "my lady". Red Flag! Red Flag!
Squirrel Girl tells him they can get the Avengers to help get rid of waste that doesn't involve burying it, "Thor throws things into the sun all the time" so they can set up a system were he does that with nuclear waste. She asks if he'll free Brad now, the man who is totally not her boyfriend.
She asks if Brad believes in superheroes now, but he yells that it'll take more than one staged operation to fool him. If the government believe this will stop him blogging they've got another thing coming. Squirrel Girl rolls her eyes then asks Mole Man if they have a deal? If she deals with the dumping, he'll stop attacking the surface world.
Mole Man agrees but then he starts to tell her how no one has really understood him before and who could answer the challenge of living underground. His life below ground has been a solitary one which "has left certain matters of the heart... well buried". But Squirrel Girl has awakened something inside him. Squirrel Girl finally realises what is happening and tries to leave. But he kneels before her saying her grace, acceptance, kindness, strength, beauty and tail are intoxicating and captivating.
Mole Man: "I am but a simple Mole Man, but I swear I can give you a life unlike any other. I offer you my riches, my kingdom, my endless underground empire. Will you give me a chance? Squirrel Girl... will you be my Mole Ma'am?"
We then jump forwards to Doreen recounting the tale to Nancy and Ken. Ken asks what she did next. Doreen says she let him down gently telling him it's not you it's me, that she had commitments on the surface world and school is busy so she doesn't have time to date right now, "anything I could think of."
|Doreen relates the incident.|
Doreen says it all ended OK though, she told him squirrels don't live underground, there from two different worlds and she thinks he accepted that. Ken says the Brad story would have been amazing on his own. Doreen groans that after Mole Man left Brad pulled on her tail like he thought it would come off, "it was the worst date ever in time. I should have stuck with the Sentinel".
Suddenly the ground shakes, Central Park is sinking. Doreen and Ken suit up as Squirrel Girl and Koi Boi chasing after Nancy as she runs to look. Squirrel Girl pick Nancy up and they jump down into the hole which the trees have dropped into. And it turns out it was Mole Man, who is delighted that Squirrel Girl came, saying she understood his gesture's intent.
|Central Park a few meters lower.|
Nancy: "Don't you ever touch my friend without her permission, creepo."
Hooray for SJW Nancy! Squirrel Girl tells Mole Man that Nancy is her friend and she is protective of her, "oh, you'll see how protective I can be Johnny Grabby Hands.." Nancy threatens. Koi Boi arrives and Mole Man warns him off from asking Squirrel Girl out, which infuriates Nancy, "Oh my god, I'm gonna slap that grin right off his.." But Squirrel Girl says she has this under control.
Squirrel Girl explains that there is no right words or romantic gesture he can make, he can't cajole or debate her into loving him. She says she is sorry. Mole Man says he understands, "I understand that your so-called friends have been poisoning your mind against me!!"
He orders his "Moloids" to attack them, Squirrel Girl tosses Nancy out of harms way as she and Koi Boi battle the pale and skinny creatures. When they are defeated, Nancy drop back down, caught by Squirrel Girl. Mole Man says enough, he understands that his gift was not appreciated and was the wrong way to go about things.
Koi Boi asks if he'll put Central Park back, Mole Man says any fool can fill a hole have the authorities contact him if they can't figure it out. Squirrel Girl tells Harvy that there is someone out there for him and he won't need to convince her when he finds her. Mole Man thanks her and walks off alone into the dark.
The next day Doreen and Nancy are walking by the sunken Central Park, Tippy-Toe says the squirrels are enjoying actually, lots of new places to hide nuts. Nancy say she's won't apologise for slapping Mole Man, Doreen says she isn't asking her too, she finds it so hard to say no to people and Nancy is the world champion at that. Then the ground rumbles again.
|I don't normally include the interior covers but this made me laugh so hard when I turned to it that I nearly dropped the book in the nice hot bath I was having. Tip that fedora Harvey!|
Doreen: "Shut up. Oh my god. Shut up... I'm going to kick his butt Nancy. To the moon. I'm not even joking. I will literally kick his butt so hard that it would land on the moon."
Two days later Squirrel Girl and Mole Man are still all over the news. People are complaining that their lives are being ruined because she refuses to go out on one date with him. A man on an audience participation show says that who does she think she is to turn down a man she barely knows and not even think him worth a single date. He starts saying "not all men" before the channel is changed to J.Jonah Jameson who is offering five grand to any photgraphic evidence of Squirrel Girl going on a date with people of lower caliber than Mole Man.
Nancy: "I think it's awful that whoever a particular woman chooses to date is now a matter of worldwide speculation."
She is telling this to a report then leaveswith Doreen who is muffled in a face scarf and big hat. Doreen can't believe J. Jonah Jameson wants "creeper pics" of her on dates, "who does that?"
Nancy says she could make a cool five grand by staging a photo herself. Doreen says she totally should and then get a job working for him as a photographer who always gets amazing pictures of Squirrel Girl and never wonders why. They overhear two men moaning about what'll happen when Mole Man starts sinking buildings they care about and why cant "Woodchuck Chick" kiss him already.
Annoyed Doreen says they should ditch class and deal with the Mole Man thing, but todays lesson is "The Physics Of Punching". And so one totally amazing physics lecture later, Squirrel Girl returns to the sunken Central Park. She hides in the trees from the media gathered there but they spot her and she shoots off saying "this was a horrible idea, bye!!"
Back at her and Nancy's place she says the media means she can't even get close. Nancy says she should go as Doreen but Squirrel Girl says they have figured out heroes have secret identities and are checking everyone who comes with a face scanner. She just wants to talk to the guy but she can't do it with "literally the world's media in my face".
Nancy decides that it's "time to get fancy and watch Nancy". She'll go down there and solve the friggin' problems. Squirrel Girl says it's dangerous, but Nancy says she will be OK because she is close to Squirrel Girl so he won't hurt her. She's seen Squirrel Girl talk down dozens of bad guys, so she knows she can do it herself.
So they get changed and walk to where the media are in Central Park. As Squirrel Girl faces a barrage of questions Nancy sneaks off and jumps down one of the holes. She finds herself faced with Mole Man, the Mole Monsters and Moloids and Mole Man himself.
|Nancy tries to sort things out.|
Nancy gets mad saying she has come to tell him she is not interested in him, Mole Man says would she deny her "the love of a nice and gentle man? You would refuse my request?!" Nancy says absolutely she is refusing his request, "move on".
Mole Man: "I should have realised. Squirrel Girl is so kind. So loving... so understanding. A paragon of virtue. Of course you'd be in love with her too."
Nancy pulls an amazing WTF face. Mole Man says she is here to sabotage her because she want Squirrel Girl all to herself. But her jealousy will be the cause of her never returning to the surface world.
Nancy says she is not getting kidnapped today and opens her bag, unleashing a horde of squirrels led by Tippy-Toe. As they distract Mole Man's minions, Nancy climbs out and meets up with Doreen. When Nancy tells her Mole Man described her as a "paragon of virtue" Doreen says she is ending this "now. Tonight". And to avoid the press, she is going to burrow her way down to him.
And she digs her way down grumbling about the situation the whole way. She is irritated that showing basic human decency has made him think she owes him something:
Squirrel Girl: "Plus, how are you a nice guy if the only reason you're being nice is because you think it might make me kiss you?!"
She breaks through saying she is "so over making your feelings my problem. They're your feelings, dude! You deal with them!"
|Tricephalus admits her love.|
Mole Man alone fights the surface dwellers to protect the underground and her kind, how could she resist falling for him and have feelings grow deeper every day? Mole Man is surprised to hear this confession. He ddn't realise it was possible for a Mole Monster to love him.
She says if their love is to be, he must love himself first, he has internalised much of what the surface world has said about him, he even still calls them monsters. Squirrel Girl has bewitched him "and I will not allow her to darken our realm again!!" Tippy-Toe points out that Mole Man is letting Tricephalous do all the fighting while he watches with fascination. So Squirrel Girl has an idea.
She goes into battle with Tricephlous and lets her be beaten by her including getting stomped on. Squirrel Girl declares herself defeated and Mole Man cancels his date with her. Tippy-Toe says it worked while Squirrel Girl grumbles that losing fights is "the worst." Mole Man and Tricephalous start making out so Squirrel Girl and Tippy-Toe leave them too it.
And so Doreen and friends start helping to restore Central Park. One of them is Tomas's girlfriend who Doreen is surprised to find she likes. Doreen then apologises to Tomas for being weird about his dating. Soon all the worlds landmarks are restored and Nancy says that the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl finally lost a fight.
Doreen says this has all made her realise that she was setting up dates for the wrong reason because she felt like she was falling behind. "But I've got nothing to prove" she says, "I'm a rad lady and everyone just has to deal." Nancy asks what she is going to do now and Doreen says she is cancelling her last internet date and go home and call to order "Mew Club". Mew being Nancy's cat she gives Squirrel Girl a hug and they spend the rest of the evening hanging out at home while Mole Man sleeps snuggled up to Tricephalous.
|Happy endings all round.|
Squirrel Girl then says to Tippy-Toe that the fight was strange how their fight kept illustrating basic computer science concepts. Tippy-Toe says it's more strange because Doc Ock has been dead for two years. Squirrel Girl wonders how she forgot that. Then she realises she forgot same way it's snowing in August, "this is a friggin' dream."
And a goth looking being shows up saying he is "The Nightmare Man". He says he here to take her sanity from her, everytime she sleeps she'll enter a bespoke nightmare where he will beat her. She says she took down Doc Ock easily enough so "bring it on." Nightmare Man then conjures up Count Nefaria.
|Nightmare Man invades Squirrel Girls dreams.|
Nightmare Man appears, extremely annoyed at this. He accuses her of ruining everything, Nefaria isn't into counting he says. So why is his name "Count Nefaria" she responds. Nightmare Man yells at her for not knowing more about the strongest human in the entire universe. "I dunno" says Squirrel Girl, "he seemed to me like a Dracula who's big into counting."
She smugly tells Nightmare Man that she is fast asleep and still beating all the draculas he throws at her. So he decides he'll take her on directly and he manifest the Venom symbiote around him. Squirrel says Venom is a good guy now, but Nightmare Man says that's only in the real world. Tippy-Toe tells her to escape from him into another bad dream.
So she shifts the scene and find herself in an exam for a class she doesn't remember taking and haven't studied one bit for. But she is able to defeat this dream by going to Kraven the College Administrator telling him to remove her from the final which is for a class she never attended or submitted any work for and thus it was an error putting her in for the exam.
She and Tippy-Toe then discuss how they can use Venom's weakness against sound and fire to defeat Nightmare Man. But then the tree grabs her as Venom pops out. She shifts to a nightmare where she is surrounded by squirrels who are upset that all the worlds trees have stopped producing nuts.
|Sonic Squirrel attack!|
Squirrel Girl: "And hey. I trash-talked you before, but you've actually got a pretty good domain here in the dream world! People love it here! Maybe hang out with people while they are having fun dreams insetad of giving them nightmares, huh?"
When he says he prefers nightmares she says dreams are fun and takes off flying with him in tow. And he starts to smile as he follows her over the city. In bed, we see Doreen asleep and she is "such an incredible force for good that one time she defeated a bad guy in her friggin' sleep." The end.
As ever, this is wonderful stuff. So packed with jokes I can barely do it justice. The Choose Your Own Adventure issue was marvellous and great fun, and although I didn't understand much of the techical stuff in the final story I liked how Squirrel Girl got use out of what she is studying to best her foes. But the three issues dealing with Mole Man were brilliant. And very pertinent to what happens to a lot of women these days. Hell it even happened to me when I was a university twenty-five years ago. My Nice Guy wasn't a hipster, they hadn't been invented yet but he spent all his time being nice to me in a way I thought was because we were friends. It was when he started writing poetry dedicated to me and giving me roses that it suddenly clicked, and had to sit him down and say "dude I am the gayest gayer that ever gayed. I value you as a friend but you're not going to get any further along with me than that." And he left the course at the end of term so, oh well. Taught me a valuable lesson that when dealing with potential men as mates, declare my sexuality as soon as possible. That seems to have worked since. I also liked to fact she was being excoricated by the manosphere for not acceeding to Mole Man's demands because those people need to be shown for the dickheads they are and need taking down a peg or two. "Not all men" indeed. Making a woman's sexuality public and the matter of debate is also a pertinent point to have made, maybe even more so in the wake of #metoo. I just like how Squirrel Girl can deal with potentially heavy topics with a sharp but humourous touch and also find it in its heart to still give Mole Man a happy ending while Doreen realises she'd been dating for all the wrong reasons. All-in-all this was another winner for me, it made me genuinely laugh out loud several times and as per usual Ryan North's punchy writing and Erica Henderson's characterful art make this one of modern comics real jewels. Join me in a few days where we reenter The Clean Room.