Bring it on, nerds.
It's the highlight of 2016 that you didn't know you wanted, but that you definitely needed: the unbeatable Squirrel Girls' first standalone graphic novel. There is so much to love about this book that I barely know where to start. It opens with a Squirrel Girl riff on a classic Superman scene. It transitions to the Squirrel Girl version of the Scooby Gang with obligatory second-year algorithmic geekery, and then suddenly we're in the Avengers' tower with Tony Stark, ready for some Mad Science "both computer and regular". A couple of poor Tony Stark choices later and we're off and running with the plot-line that will eventually, and in unexpected ways, deliver on the title.
For once, this is a problem I can't fix in my underwear.
-- Tony Stark
It has been established that there's no threat in the Marvel universe, large or small, that Squirrel Girl cannot overcome. This leads to another route to conflict: what my 11th grade English teacher described as "man versus self" (back when "man" was an acceptable generic and not a red metal gauntlet thrown down in the gender nomenclature wars).
I know, my god, what an awful sentence. Ryan North's writing is very dense and the sentences have this sort of complicated style. After a whole book of it, it is hard to write—or even think—normally.
Anyway, this being comics "Squirrel Girl versus self" gets realized in the most literal way, and so that means the misplaced apostrophe that you've been dying to message me about from the opening sentence is actually intentional and grammatically correct.
You see? I literally cannot stop writing this way.
Not really a SPOILER because it's in the solicit text... but don't read the next line if you haven't already rumbled it ...
Yes, duplicate Squirrel Girls.
END not really a SPOILER
So, nyah, grammar police.
And the art is amazing. Small moments like the Avengers stretching (and texting) before a battle. Big moments like all-out melees. All sorts of Marvel mainstays and also-rans drawn in Erica Henderson's wonderful style. A Squirrel-Girl targeted version of the Hulkbuster suit. And the way that Erica captured Tony Stark's innate Robert Downey Jr.-ness. It's all awesome, simple and slightly cartoon-y yet compelling and fun.
The manner in which the villain plots her way through the elimination of the entire Marvel catalog, and then executes it, is totally in character and richly realized. It's the most self-consistent believable run of the table I've seen (better than Old Man Logan or Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe; I never read the Punisher one). It leads to the payoff climax with a real sense that the remaining heroes, Doreen and her Scoobies, have no chance. And there the story took a twist I hadn't foreseen, leading to a truly awesome full-page image that made me smile like the green-haired guy from the other comics company. The book is unpaged so I can't give you the page ref, but Doreen says "Nuts to that." if you want to track it down.
So all that nattering and I haven't even touched on another amazing element: there's an ongoing commentary on the bottom margin written in the letterer's equivalent of Flyspeck 3-point font that I had to read with my magnifying glass. It's like Ryan is reading the book with you and providing commentary. In infuriatingly tiny letters.
Actually all the text seems a bit small because the poor letterer (Travis Lanham, give him a hand everyone, because his must have been ready to fall off) had to contend with Ryan's torrent of words.
And there's a post-credits scene, which is really kind of meta.
So! Plot: Amazing. Dialog: Splendid. Art: Fantastic. Humorous touches: Numerous. It's a big ball of fun, equally accessible to fans of the comic and new readers. Familiarity with the Marvel universe is helpful—not essential, as long as you're familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe you should be fine, if perhaps a bit confused about Thor.
She called us "nerds", Nick.
I just finished reading it.
IN9 plus Jet-Poop inquired as to whether I was going to node this one.
See also Squirrel Power and Squirrel you know it's true.