She took down Doctor Doom in her very first adventure! She dated Wolverine and then defeated him in one-on-one combat after that! She has defeated supervillains like M.O.D.O.K, Kraven The Hunter, Deadpool, Thanos and even Galactus!
Just who is this seemingly unbeatable hero, this amazing hero who has managed to vex some of Marvel’s most powerful heroes and villains?
Why, it’s the unbeatable Squirrel Girl, of course!
Wait, what? Squirrel who? Yes, Squirrel Girl, the amazing superhero with the powers of a squirrel!
She can leap tall trees in a single bound (and climb, hop and skip on them too)! She has the proportionate strength of a squirrel (which comes in handy when you need to lift really big nuts)! She has a little knuckle spike to fight with (and claws that are really useful for climbing trees)! She has pouches full of nuts she eats for extra energy (macadamia nuts are “great for extra pep”, apparently)! And best of all, she can talk to squirrels!
OK, so Squirrel Girl’s powers aren’t as cool as, say, Storm, Phoenix, Captain Marvel, or even Jubilee (who shoots fireworks out of her hands, can you believe it). But we weren’t kidding about the ‘unbeatable’ part.
Doreen Green aka Squirrel Girl has been taking down major supervillains since she made her very first appearance in 1991’s Marvel Super-Heroes (Vol. 2) #8, in an Iron Man short story that was written by Will Murray and drawn by the legendary Steve Ditko. It was meant to be a light-hearted joke of a story, but little did Murray and Ditko know that their nutty creation would become one of Marvel’s most quirkily endearing characters.
In that story, Doreen ambushes Tony Stark as he is flying through a forest and asks to be his partner. Unsurprisingly, Tony isn’t too impressed with her power set (“Not exactly in Wolverine’s class, are you?”), but he soon changes his mind when Doctor Doom himself shows up and kidnaps both of them in his Doomship.
But never fear, for Squirrel Girl is here! Calling upon her rodent friends for help, the combined powers of a thousand woodland creatures soon confounds Dr Doom enough for him to abandon ship and run away! And thus, the legend of the unbeatable Squirrel Girl is born!
The nutty Avengers
Unfortunately, it took more than 10 years for her legend to continue.
Consigned to obscurity and used mostly as an in-joke by Marvel writers, she finally got another break in 2005 when she joined the Avengers!
Wait, what do you mean she technically didn’t join the Avengers? She actually joined the Great Lake Avengers? Oh.
The Great Lake Avengers (GLA) was a jokey knock-off Avengers team based in Milwaukee that comprised a bunch of ‘heroes’ with rather useless powers. Among them were Mr Immortal (he can’t die), Flatman (he’s flat), Big Bertha (she’s big), Doorman (he’s a doo… no, wait, he creates teleportation ‘doors’), and human Pterosaur Dinah Soar (dino-saur, geddit?).
Anyway, Squirrel Girl made her bow in 2005’s GLA #1, breaking the fourth wall to introduce readers to the new four-issue miniseries written by Dan Slott. Joining her on her comeback was Monkey Joe, her ‘squirrel partner’ who was also introduced in that first Iron Man story.
Tragically, Monkey Joe dies in GLA #3 (the series was a send-up of comic book tropes, and had one character die in each of its four issues), but Squirrel Girl gets a new sidekick in #4, Tippy Toe, who has, happily, stayed alive until today.
After the GLA series ended, Squirrel Girl went back into hibernation for another couple of years until 2011, when she was reintroduced into the Marvel canon and joined the New Avengers!
Wait, what? She didn’t join THIS team either? Then why was she interviewed by Luke Cage in New Avengers (Vol. 2) #7?
As it turns out, Squirrel Girl was not interviewed to become part of the team, but, rather, to become the nanny for Cage and Jessica Jones’ daughter, Danielle Cage.
Well, if you’re going to hire a nanny for the daughter of two superheroes, you could do worst than hiring a superhero who is unbeatable, right?
While being a nanny doesn’t usually put Squirrel Girl in the thick of the action, she does get to show off her skills during the Fear Itself crossover (New Avengers #15). Not only does she have to defend Danielle against a horde of Thule Society soldiers, in a flashback, she even gets to whoop Wolverine’s butt in a one-on-one fight. Fun fact: earlier in the series, it was also revealed that Logan and Squirrel Girl actually had a fling in the past!
In the 2015 reboot of the New Avengers title, she eventually joins the new team, thus making her, officially, an Avenger! (Tippy Toe is also a member, making her the first ever squirrel Avenger!) She’s since stayed on with the team even after its change to the U.S.Avengers.
In 2015, 24 years after making her debut, comic book fans all over the world rejoiced as Marvel’s most unbeatable superhero finally got her own solo series! Woohoo!
Ok, fine, when the series was first announced, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl wasn’t exactly the most anticipated new title in the Marvel lineup. Heck, it probably wasn’t even in the top 10 of most fans’ lists.
All credit to the creative team of writer Ryan North and artist Erica Henderson though, who have turned it into one of Marvel’s most consistently brilliant and funny titles. It even won an award for Best Publication for Teens (ages 13-17) at last year’s Eisners (the comics industry’s equivalent of the Oscars).
While The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl still isn’t as popular as some of Marvel’s bigger titles, it’s a great example of how superhero comics doesn’t always have to be about major crossover events or nonstop superhero action all the time. Combining tongue in cheek humour, mockery of comic book tropes, amusingly cartoonish art and genuinely funny scripts and stories, the series has managed to chug on even in the face of some of Marvel’s major universe-changing events.
In it, Doreen finally takes Iron Man’s advice all those years ago and enrol into college, studying computer science, of all things. There, she meets roommate and new best friend Nancy Whitehead, who has the power of sarcasm and cat whispering (what do you mean those aren’t superpowers)? Also part of the series’ cast of genuinely likeable characters are Chipmunk Hunk (powers: able to talk to chipmunks), Koi Boi (powers: able to talk to fish) and Brain Drain (a former supervillain created in 1975 who is essentially a super brain in a robot body. He was defeated by Squirrel Girl because his software was obsolete. But after Doreen and Nancy helped update his software, he decides to become a hero instead. Hooray for the powers of computer science!).
Since getting her own series, Squirrel Girl has continued her unbeaten streak against Marvel’s worst villains. She defeated Kraven The Hunter (she convinced him to go hunt giant sea monsters instead), Galactus (she convinced him to eat nuts instead of planets. True story), a dinosaur Ultron (she used computer science again!) and even an evil Asgardian squirrel god named Ratatoskr. (Fun fact: Ratatoskr is an actual figure in Norse mythology.)
Heck, she is so unbeatable that she even got her own Deadpool-esque Squirrel Girl Beats Up The Marvel Universe standalone graphic novel last year. And she’s also set to make her live action debut in the upcoming New Warriors TV series, played by Milana Vayntrub (This Is Us). Not bad for a superhero who was created as a joke, eh?