|Cover by Mike Deodato, Rain Beredo|
The New Avengers: Fear Itself #15 (August 10, 2011)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Mike Deodato
Colorist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Two words: Squirrel Girl.
When I was first introduced to her, I thought she was such a ridiculous concept, that she simply had to be forced to the sidelines. The super hero universe simply cannot exist with a Squirrel Girl running around. She’s half-squirrel. Also, she controls squirrels. I almost felt sorry for her.
It was like Marvel had a certain quota of stock comic book characters to fill and suddenly they realized they didn’t have an “incredibly lame character to make other terrible characters look better in comparison” one so someone scratched off Squirrel Girl really quickly. Marvel is certainly the most serious of comic book universes, but there are standards, damn it.
Then I picked up The New Avengers: Fear Itself #15. My thoughts have not completely changed regarding Squirrel Girl (I’m still somewhat embarrassed on her behalf) but I was thoroughly impressed with Bendis’ ability to turn her into an engaging central character. Her voice was surprisingly clear and self-assured; she knew who she was and what her abilities were. She was confident and determined to someday become a full-time Avenger, rather than merely the nanny. I liked her and by the end of the issue, I was rooting for her. After all, it’s not every day that we see a half-rodent college student confound Wolverine in a practice fight. That was fun.
Bendis basically gave me a character that was confident but also struggling to prove herself with the other Avengers. It’s a rather old story that I’ve seen dozens of times over in other comic books but he managed, with the inclusion of Red Skull’s evil daughter, Sin, and some Nazi bombers thrown in, to keep it fresh. There was also plenty of humor, which did not detract from or lessen the conflict.
In fact, the only real gripe I have with this book was the art by Deodato. For the characterizations, I suspected that he drew inspiration from manga, which is not necessarily a bad thing; it just felt off in the Marvel Universe. I also was surprised by how poor his use of perspective was: there was one panel in particular that threw me featuring Luke Cage holding his baby daughter against his shoulder. I know he’s Power Man and therefore, very strong and muscular, however, that should not account for why his hands were larger than his head. He looked so stupid cradling this baby with his giant freak hands. How could Deodato think that looked all right? The action sequences weren’t too bad though he was very fond of overlapping explosions that covered up any backgrounds or cityscapes. I found that kind of weak.
Nonetheless, I definitely am looking forward to the next issue as it is hinted in this one that Squirrel Girl will have a moment to really shine as a super hero in that one. And now, I guess I like Squirrel Girl. What are you gonna do?