REVIEW: Squirrel Girl #11 – “Nightmare in Dreamland”

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THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #11
Written By: Ryan North
Art By:  Jacob Chabot (pencils), Erica Henderson (that one panel) & Rico Renzi (colors)
Lettered By: Travis Lanham
Release Date: 8/24/16
Price Tag: $3.99

While minding her own business at a falafel restaurant, Doreen has a run-in with Doctor Octopus that leads to a lot of broken glass and a lot more computer science puns. But is everything as it seems? And why is Doc Ock even here, anyway?

Plot: What starts off as a battle between Squirrel Girl and Doctor Octopus quickly turns into a nightmare with a new villain. A villain appropriately named Nightmare, in fact. He’s cooked up some ways to defeat Doreen in her dreams, but her subconscious seems to be able to hold its own.

Doreen’s ability to exercise control over her own dreams is a big help, but her skill with binary numbers are really what saves the day.

Story: I don’t usually look to comic books to teach me about computer science, but Ryan North has a habit of making everything fun. So while this story is clearly a breather after the Mole Man arc, it’s enjoyable even without as much plot as usual.

Squirrel Girl‘s pages are filled with jokes, trivia and the best editor’s notes I’ve ever seen. And despite this week’s issue not being particularly layered, there’s still a lot of fun to be had with the idea of perception versus reality. Doreen’s dream are only as light or as dark as her subconscious makes them, and the monsters she faces can only conform to what she knows about them.

At the end of the day, this issue of Squirrel Girl really was a classic story about the power of love overcoming hate. But with the added bonus of learning how to count to 31 on one hand, so you can’t say it’s cliche.

This is true about the series as a whole: no matter how silly or simple the plot may be, the character work is strong and the dialogue is engaging. And it speaks to both kids and adults without condescending to either. Whether Doreen is learning about friendship, romance, fighting techniques or computer science – it’s always a lesson readers can take to heart.

Art: I’ve gotten so used to Erica Henderson’s art when reading Squirrel Girl that it’s always a shock to see a guest artist. However, Jacob Chabot captures Doreen’s winning combo of enthusiasm and innocence admirably.

 

Rico Renzi’s muted colors worked especially well in Doreen’s dream world. The palette in any given panel adjusted to fit her mood, growing darker as her confidence waned and brighter when she thought of a solution.

Verdict: Squirrel Girl #11 remains as charming as ever despite taking a break from the action of the last few issues. The series as a whole has some of the most intelligent and heartfelt writing out there, and it never gets too dark or depressing. I absolutely recommend picking it up in order to read after Marvel kills off one of your favorite characters. Guaranteed mood lifter!

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