REVIEW: Marvel Rising Squirrel Girl & Ms. Marvel #1

Marvel Rising Squirrel Girl & Ms. Marvel feature

MARVEL RISING SQUIRREL GIRL & MS. MARVEL 1/ Writers: Ryan North & G. Willow Wilson with Devin Grayson / Artists: Irene Strychalski & Ramon Bachs / Color Artist: Rachelle Rosenberg / Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles / Cover Art: Gurihiru / Publisher: Marvel / July 4, 2018

Marvel Rising Squirrel Girl & Ms. Marvel 1

Marvel Rising Squirrel Girl & Ms. Marvel #1 brings big action, big fun, and a big new America-n hero in this rollicking new installment of Marvel Rising.  

Will Doreen and Kamala discover each other’s secret identities? Will Ember succeed in her borderline-nefarious teen-angst fueled villainous plan? Does she even understand what she’s doing? Authors Ryan North and G. Willow Wilson keep their signature characters, Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel respectively, perfectly on point. Readers will appreciate how seamlessly these two main characters, through story and art, are brought together in service of good defeating evil.

I love how Marvel Rising Squirrel Girl & Ms. Marvel #1 balances elements of real life teenage existence with the insanity of comic book living. In the lives of teenagers, 10 million things are bopping around in their heads during any given class (trust me, I know) and this issue plays off that to great entertainment for the reader. In the case of Doreen’s CompSci class, it just happens to be actual video game characters brought to malicious life by a newly-minted Inhuman’s foray into villainy. Of course she’s chosen the villainy route because she’s a moody teenage girl who isolates herself, supported by the creepy grooming of a mysterious online friend she’s never met. How can this end well for her? For anyone? Thankfully, the Kamala/Doreen duo gets a helpful assist from America Chavez (and a less than helpful assist by Inferno). We are halfway through the series and in the thick of it, so to speak, so giant robots, giant RPG chickens, secret identities getting revealed, and general chaos and mayhem are very much welcomed.

One of my favorite parts about the Squirrel Girl series is the extra content, usually breaking the 4th wall to talk directly to the reader, printed in maybe 6 pt font, at the bottom of most Squirrel Girl pages. As silly as they usually are, they give the reader so much more insight into Doreen’s mindset and give her a truly unique voice. I’m sure to Squirrel Girl skeptics, that’s probably annoying. To those of us charmed by Ryan North’s earnestly nice (but seriously butt kicking) hero, to have more of the running commentary is a treat. One of my favorites is when Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel have defeated one of Ember’s creations and are in the middle of cleaning up the mess:

Marvel Rising Squirrel Girl meta text

This meta chatter keeps Doreen/Squirrel Girl unique and invites the reader in like a friend and everyone knows, Doreen Green is all about making friends.

That positive energy and friendship vibe weaves its way throughout Marvel Rising Squirrel Girl & Ms. Marvel 1, to positive effect. As Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel battle to contain Ember’s creations, the audience finally FINALLY gets to see Doreen squirrel sized. It takes partnering her up with Ms. Marvel (when she goes giant sized) to put Squirrel Girl in the right perspective. It’s funny and silly and clever and the reader absolutely believes these two can maybe get a handle on the situation. I give Irene Strychalski and Ramon Bachs all the high fives for creating panels that bring this weird friendship to life. As always, Rachelle Rosenberg’s colors pop and lend energy and brightness, even in the craziest of action.

Marvel Rising Ms Marvel throws Squirrel Girl

It’d be easy to glance at the cover for Marvel Rising Squirrel Girl & Ms. Marvel 1 and think, “Oh this is a kid’s book. This is a girl’s book. This is a book for girl children. This is not for me because it doesn’t have a morose bat in the rain watching over a burned out city contemplating his constant inability to defeat his villains.” I mean, you probably don’t say those things or even think those things consciously, but you might, in your subconscious. You might walk past this cover thinking it’s too “cute” or “childish” but to quote my sweet best friend, Brain Drain, “even in a chaotic world such as ours, there is room for some slight frivolity.” Wise words from a brain in a jar screwed onto a robot body. Gurihiru’s covers always keep a strong hold on the frivolous fun without falling to sugary overload. As all great covers do, this one in particular does a nice job of mixing the video game-come-to-villainous-life conceit while introducing characters who are going to be more permanent members of the Marvel Rising family.

I have one real issue with Marvel Rising and it has nothing to to with the story or the art. Who at Marvel is responsible for naming the titles and numbering them in any sane/logical/reasonable manner? These books are part of a multimedia launch, assumably to attract new comic readers and fans, but new fans will find themselves confused as hell by this series. What order do you read the books? Let me break it down. It all started with the freebie Marvel Rising 0 in late April of 2018. Marvel Rising Alpha #1 arrived in June. Marvel Rising Squirrel Girl & Ms. Marvel #1 dropped in July. Next month’s will be titled Marvel Rising Squirrel Girl/Ms. Marvel #1 and eventually concluded with Marvel Rising Omega #1.

I get computer science is built on all the 1s and 0s, so maybe this is a nod to Squirrel Girl’s computer science conceit, but this is ridiculous. Add in the idea that they are one-shots when clearly, they are NOT ONE SHOTS. There’s a clear beginning, middle and end here. To number everything as a #1 is infuriating. I buy comics on the regular and have sort of acclimated myself to this mess of a system. New readers will be confused as to which issue is which, especially with this month’s title being virtually the same as next month’s title. To attract and keep new readers, Marvel needs to package the product in a customer-friendly way or too many potential readers will give up before they even get hooked.

Despite the baffling titles and numbering, Marvel Rising Squirrel Girl & Ms. Marvel #1 is worth the time. This month’s issue price is steep, $5.99, though some may argue you are getting a double issue. It is a crossover of sorts with three great authors teaming up to bring real energy and life to this new superhero squad.

My verdict: 5 out of 5 stars for story and art / 1 of 5 stars for chaotically confusing marketing

 

I’m a curious, creative, comic(al) woman. I am unapologetically Team Cap, but not HydraCap because there is a line in the moral sands of the universe and that whole thing is on the other side of it. I teach high school students all about the joys of mythology through comic books, graphic novels, and films. I wandered into the comic book world in 2015 and is a proud member of the #DoYouEvenComicBook gang.

I'm a curious, creative, comic(al) woman. I am unapologetically Team Cap, but not HydraCap because there is a line in the moral sands of the universe and that whole thing is on the other side of it. I teach high school students all about the joys of mythology through comic books, graphic novels, and films. I wandered into the comic book world in 2015 and is a proud member of the #DoYouEvenComicBook gang.

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