Marvel Super Heroes #8 (Iron Man)
Issue(s): Marvel Super Heroes #8 (Iron Man story only)
I always assumed that Steve Ditko was primarily responsible for creating Squirrel Girl, but according to a quote on her Wikipedia page, Squirrel Girl was created entirely by Will Murray, despite him only getting script credit for this issue:
Actually I created Squirrel Girl in script form without any artist input. Tom Morgan was originally going to draw it, but when he dropped out, I requested Ditko and got him. Ditko did a great job in bringing my baby to life. He invented that knuckle spike. It wasn't in the script. I based Squirrel Girl ironically enough on a long-ago girlfriend who read comics and was into "critters"--wild animals of all types. Coincidentally, she was [a] big Ditko fan. I think I got the idea because I had a bunch of squirrels running around my roof and sometimes coming in through my open bedroom window and inspiration struck.
The only other by Will Murray thing i have in my project so far is the odious anti-Fourth Amendment story in Punisher Summer Special #1. The stories do share a certain goofiness in tone, but are obviously very different in all other respects.
This story is a full 22 pages, so it seems that it was intended for a regular issue of Iron Man but was probably shelved for, um, obvious reasons. So if you're a Squirrel Girl fan, you can thank the dumping ground that was the 1990s Marvel Super Heroes series, where every last bit of inventory material was published. Otherwise Dan Slott would never have seen this.
And if you're a fan of self-driving cars, you can thank Iron Man, who back at this time was already working on collision detection technology (heck, he even named it CAR).
Now let's get to some additional things about Squirrel Girl that i didn't cover in the Doombot post. Note that she refers to herself as if she is a squirrel herself.
But it's not like she was raised by squirrels. She mentions being made fun of by other kids at school.
This story has her trying to become Iron Man's partner. He tries to pawn her off on the X-Men or Captain America, to no avail. She seems particularly upset with Kitty Pride [sic]. There may be a story there.
Speaking of partners, you'll see from the above scan that this is also the first appearance of Monkey Joe.
In this panel, i'm fairly certain Dr. Doom is calling Squirrel Girl fat:
Squirrel girl is somewhere between Deadpool and Splice when it comes to actually using her pouches.
You also have to give some credit to Dr. Doom. I am sure his agent could have gotten him out of this book if he wanted to. But he fully commits to the story. No one has ever said "Squirrels are emotionally resilient" in a more menacing way.
Squirrel Girl is objectively ridiculous. Marvel made the right move at the time in relegating this to Marvel Super Heroes, and even so it was made fun of relentlessly, even by Marvel themselves in their Coolometers and 1992 Year-In-Review magazine. Even at this time Marvel was blurring the line between their serious and humor books (e.g. Excalbur, Wonder Man), but this was probably a step too far. We are basically into Mr. Fish territory. Modern audiences with more ironic sensibilities will later prove that a character like Squirrel Girl can work in a niche in the Marvel universe, to the point where at the time of writing Squirrel Girl is starring in her own critically acclaimed if not exactly top selling book.
I leave you with these final words of wisdom: "I don't need luck. I eat nuts."
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: Placing this basically at publication date.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Something must have appealed to people about this character considering the ridiculously high price it sells for. I still can't find it anywhere for under $50.00. :(
Posted by: clyde | November 25, 2015 12:58 PM
I never expected Squirrel Girl, of all characters, to be based on someones ex-girlfriend.
Posted by: Berend | November 25, 2015 1:49 PM
Behold the epic awesomeness of Squirrel Girl...luckily her more recent appearances have made her cuter.
Oh and for linking, the epicness of her defeating Doom:
Posted by: Ataru320 | November 25, 2015 2:40 PM
I got this comic as a kid because it had the X-men on the cover and got lucky that it had this Squirrel Girl story in it...not because Squirrel Girl is a great character, but because I was eventually able to sell it for some decent cash. Thanks hipsters!
Posted by: Red Comet | November 25, 2015 8:34 PM
Squirrel Girl's knuckle spikes seem to have been retconned away, or at least she doesn't use them in her solo series. Can't remember whether they were shown in GLA?
Posted by: Tuomas | November 26, 2015 8:29 AM
Spider-Man and Squirrel Gurl, two of the greatest creations of of our generation. Is there anything Steve Ditko can't dew.
Posted by: JC | January 9, 2016 5:17 AM
I'm waiting for Marvel Comics to inevitably retcon Squirrel Girl from a mutant into an Inhuman so that Marvel Studios can utilize her :)
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 3, 2016 9:26 PM
Actually, there was a gag in Squirrel Girl's solo series where she's been declared by a doctor to be "LEGALLY distinct from a mutant".
Posted by: Michael | March 3, 2016 9:35 PM
They had to establish she wasn't a "mutant" because any mutant on Earth is currently at risk to get the Legacy Vir- I mean M-Pox and get sterilized and slowly and painfully die. Frankly, it's a fair distinction. There should be mutants with the X-Factor that make them Homo Sapiens Superior, but not all mutants should have the X-Factor. Some(very very few) should just be one of a kind. Of course, that would probably mean Squirrel Girl is sterile....
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | March 31, 2016 4:25 PM
But I think the "LEGALLY distinct from a mutant" was meant as a slap at the tendency to retcon mutants so Marvel Studios can use them.
Posted by: Michael | March 31, 2016 8:14 PM
That's a probable in-joke as well.
Posted by: Brian C. Saunders | March 31, 2016 10:51 PM
Doom is definitely calling Squirrel Girl fat. There's also a scene at the beginning of the story where Squirrel Girl jumps on Iron Man's back and her added weight causes his boot jets to fail(!). I think Murray may have been making a dig at the ex-girlfriend who inspired the character...
Posted by: Andrew | July 26, 2016 1:21 PM
I may be the only person who thinks Squirrel Girl is absolutely horrendous.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | July 26, 2016 2:22 PM
@Andrew Burke: Ditto, and I know where to find a third person who shares the same opinion as you and me.
Posted by: D09 | July 26, 2016 2:25 PM
The one funny aftermath about Squirrel Girl is that the whole point of the "1993 New Characters annuals" is that they're claim is "at least they're not Squirrel Girl".
Now...Squirrel Girl's got a major selling comic and these other characters...well that's what you get for inventing random characters on the fly instead of as a natural evolution.
Posted by: Ataru320 | July 26, 2016 4:03 PM
The art in Squirrel Girl's book is really ugly. But then, I'm getting and enjoying PATSY WALKER, AKA HELLCAT. ;)
Posted by: Andrew Burke | July 26, 2016 4:58 PM
It's a bit strange that Mark Gruenwald soon after described Squirrel Girl as "accidentally an incidental creation that just makes our list longer and doesn’t really help the Marvel Universe." He was saying this to draw a contrast to all of the "1993 New Characters annuals" who, as we all know, instead of becoming important elements of the Marvel universe, very quickly faded into total obscurity, with a couple of exceptions.
Thinking about it, the phrase "accidentally an incidental creation" would describe pretty much nearly all of Marvel's major characters from the 1960s. They were *not* planned to be huge sucesses, but were the result of Stan Lee and his collaborators just throwing everything against the wall to see what would stick in a desperate effort to keep the company afloat, and many of them struck a chord with readers.
Spider-Man is the perfect example. When the character was introduced by Lee & Ditko in 1962, publisher Martin Goodman wasn't thinking "This is one of the greatest fictinal creations in the history of mankind! One day Spider-Man will have multiple ongoing titles. We'll be licensing him out to tons of other companies, making us millions of dollars!" No, Goodman's actual line of thinking was "Hmm, I wonder is anyone's actually going to want to read this? He's such a weird-looking character! Oh, well, I'll make Stan happy and let him run it in Amazing Fantasy. The book is getting cancelled anyway, so it's not like he can make sales any worse."
Posted by: Ben Herman | April 20, 2017 10:19 AM
Continued... Squirrel Girl is, in a way, much like Spider-Man. Will Murray was not setting out to create The Next Big Thing. She was just a fun character who he came up with and wanted to write. Obviously she left an impression on various readers, including Dan Slott, who a decade or so later brought her back in Great Lakes Avengers, where again she left an impression on the audience, which gradually led to her becoming one of Marvel's biggest characters.
The lesson here is that it is very difficult to deliberately set out to create a hot new character who readers will immediately fall in love with and who will leap into a bestselling, ongoing series. Trying to force that often results in something that feels manipulative and artificial. Readers can tell when a company is trying too hard to capture lightning in a bottle.
That's a major problem with not just comic book companies, but with much of Corporate America, be it movies, TV, music, prose fiction, etc... they all want instant hits and huge short-term profits. But most of the time creations that have genuine longevity such as Spider-Man or the Hulk or Squirrel Girl need time to gestate and evolve, to find their audience, to be given a chance to grow into a huge phenomenon.
Posted by: Ben Herman | April 20, 2017 10:30 AM
@Ben- I don't think that Squirrel Girl is like Spider-Man or the Hulk, though. Spider-Man got his own series a few months after Amazing Fantasy 15, and it was soon selling hundreds of thousands of copies. The Hulk's first series failed, but he quickly went on to appear in the Avengers, and then got his own feature in Tales to Astonish and then his own series. Squirrel Girl didn't appear at all for a decade and a half , and after she did reappear in Great Lakes Avengers, she had few appearances until Bendis made her Jessica Jones's nanny in 2010. My point is- Spider-Man and the Hulk were liked very early on- unpopular characters don't appear often. Squirrel Girl, on the other hand, is an example of a character that was unloved by the generation she first appear in but appreciated by a later generation.
Posted by: Michael | April 20, 2017 10:11 PM
@Michael - Maybe I should have phrased my argument a bit differently. I guess my point is that Squirrel Girl is sort of like Spider-Man and the Hulk because when Stan Lee created the two characters with Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby respectively there doesn't seem to have been this attitude of "This is absolutely the next big thing! It's going to be enormous!" Rather, it was more like "Well, let's see what happens with this character. Hopefully the readers will like him." Which is a bit like what happened with Squirrel Girl, although as you say it took her much longer to find an audience than either the web-slinger or jade jaws.
Posted by: Ben Herman | April 21, 2017 10:16 AM
Ben, Michael's point still stands, Spider-Man was a huge hit right from the start. Few comics characters had their own solo series, and at this point, most of them were Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and some of the other founding JLA. Lee, Kirby and Goodman tried to make the Hulk into a hit, but that probably had as much to do with Marvel's limited publishing capabilities.
Squirrel Girl is a random character who came along thirty-some years after Spidey and the Hulk. There's not much comparison other than all three of them being drawn by Steve Ditko in their earliest stories. She has the bad luck (if that's the right term) of living in a world Spider-Man and the Hulk made possible.
Posted by: ChrisW | April 23, 2017 2:12 AM
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