The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #37 Review

by Charles Martin on October 10, 2018

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #37 Review
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Derek Charm
Colourist: Rico Renzi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is dead! She passed between the last issue and this one. Sorry, the Marvel universe is a busy place and sometimes we just miss seeing important developments.

But this is very definitely for real a real death, and now we have to move on through her funeral with absolutely no chance of Tom Sawyer-esque shenanigans.

Squirrel Girl is gone and it's up to new hero Bass Lass and her plucky sidekick Fish Miss to unravel the whodunnit mysteries she left behind. 

To reassure us that we're still reading Marvel's premiere funnybook, we open with a hilarious discussion of all-black uniform variants and a smug Black Widow explaining the advantages of wearing black round-the-clock.

From there, we get some useful enlightenment on Squirrel Girl's demise thanks to the Marvel universe tradition of warping every social event toward maximum drama. There's a comprehensive video of Squirrel Girl's last battle, and of course Tony Stark's gonna play it at her funeral!

She fell fighting the Octobliterator, a gargantuan pan-dimensional octopus that nearly ate Times Square. Squirrel Girl battled it along with a heap of Avengers in a flashy action scene that perfectly refracts big-budget Marvel action through the distinctively cartoony lens of USG.

I should probably step off of the plot-summary soapbox and get down to the subjective storytelling qualities of the comic. They are, in a word, excellent. There's an extra-wide load of humour in this issue; I could fill this entire review with quoted jokes and punchlines verbatim and I think I wouldn't have enough space.

Okay, just one, maybe my favourite. Here in its entirety is the Jessica Jones/Luke Cage portion of Squirrel Girl's eulogy: 

JJ: "She was baby Danielle's nanny, and then adult Danielle traveled back in time from the future to team up with her and fight crime." 
LC: "No other nanny offered this service."

There's also a surprisingly twisty plot structure lined up to entertain us in the rare moments we're not laughing. Obviously, there will be some swerves with the protagonist's death taking center stage, but the script adds on extra servings of gasp-inducing twists. 

Astute readers with treasured copies of "Squirrel Girl Beats Up The Marvel Universe" will develop strong theories about what really happened by page four. These theories will be abruptly chucked in the final act as the last swerve points us in an audaciously wild (yet logical) direction for the next installment.

The art is a superb storytelling tool guiding us effortlessly through the turns in the plot. The action scenes are dynamic and take full advantage of the title's clean style to deliver memorable fight moments. 

Plus, the huge cast - for both the flashback octo-fight and the funeral - presents an opportunity to portray a huge number of Marvel stalwarts in USG style. This is a challenge the visuals rise to wonderfully; this comic is particularly kind to Captain Marvel when she takes the spotlight in the fight.

Colour-wise, the issue deals well with the sombre palette demanded by the funeral. I'm less certain about the desaturation used to distinguish the video flashback. It works and I even think it's a tool this book's used before, but it traps some of the comic's best moments behind a slight haze. I don't have a functional alternative to suggest. I do admire the consistency of the effect.

To return to the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl's relationship with the Marvel universe, I have to second the opinion expressed by correspondent Paul Shinn in this month's letter column: USG delivers a rare and brilliant glimpse at the more lighthearted effects of living in a world with hundreds of superheroes. Marvel events and crossovers tend to focus on the ultra-high-stakes world-destroying dramatic moments; it's nice to have a contrasting view that shows the Marvel universe as a generally awesome place. 

The death of Squirrel Girl delivers dramatic mysteries along with a bigger-than-usual serving of humour. This issue tells a fascinating story with all of the title's usual skill, then adds significant extra quality by taking full advantage of the unique opportunities presented by the subject matter. It's a real treat for devoted readers - not only of this title but of Marvel comics as a whole.

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I think I've identified all the wild vehicles in the funeral home parking lot - except the helicopter. Surely that's not the Thanoscopter? Right?