Mole Guys Finish Last: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #8-10

If you told someone a few years ago that in 2016 a Squirrel Girl comic would reach eighteen issues (8 pre-Secret Wars and 10 post-Secret Wars) and is one of the most acclaimed titles Marvel released, they’d call you nuts. But the fact is, Ryan North and Erica Henderson know what they’re aiming for with The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl – not every joke is great, but there’s a lot of them and many are gold. The most recent arc is no different, and it tackles the "Nice Guy" attitude along the way.

Since the series’ start Doreen Green, a.k.a. Squirrel Girl has been crushing on fellow college student/animal-themed superhero, Tomas Lara-Perez, a.k.a. Chipmunk Hunk. So when, following a New Avengers mission involving a gigantic tree lobster where Tomas tagged along, she learns that he’s currently dating someone else, she doesn’t take it super well. But let’s be honest, that’s what you get with dating strategies like this:

To quote Ryan North's footnote: "It's an extremely valid flirting technique that gets results, for certain generous definitions of "results"!"

Her BFF Nancy has a solution – online dating. And, after a few bumps involving Doreen's inability to write a dating profile and her friends' hilarious attempts at writing one for her (yes, that includes Tippy-Toe), she goes on dates! The montage is among the funniest gags the series had, with the punchline being a date with a Sentinel. As in, the mutant-hunting giant robot.

Why indeed, Sentinel #X-42903-22. Why indeed.

But even that is a success when compared to Doreen's newest date, Brad. 

Brad is a superhero truther. As in, he believes superheroes and supervillains are all fake and part of some bullcrap conspiracy. Now, it's true that all this super-business sounds ridiculous --we've got people with powers gained from a spider-bite, actual Norse gods, gargantuan dudes with purple tuning fork hats and a number of talking animals. But at this point it would be very well documented in the Marvel universe, making Brad and other of his kind the equivalent of a Moon Landing Hoaxer or a Flat Earth believer. Except he'd be more insulting, because he'd ignoring the many deaths of heroes, villains and civilians that happened over the course of the entire Marvel superhero history; or at worst, considering them all fakes. So more accurately, he's a cross between a Flat Earth believer and an anti-vaxxer.

We've all reacted that way after reading something on the Internet.
On the other hand, considering I didn't have any problems coming up with real life counterparts to Brad's conspiracy theories, it make complete sense for superhero truthers to exist in the Marvel universe. I actually surprised this is the first time anyone came up with it.

So Doreen is already very unhappy with her date – and then Mole Man decides to attack her.

Granted, Mole Man does have a reason for his attack – or at least, as much as he generally has. Throughout the entire series, Doreen has interacted with Kraven the Hunter, first persuading him to turn his hunting obsession to more worthy targets (gigantic underwater creatures) and later, after getting a taste of how it feels to be hunted, to other hunters. This led him to taking many excursions into Mole Man's underground kingdom, where he start beating up the Moloids. Add the regular beef Harvey Elder has with the surface world, and he's properly infuriated.

Also, yes, that is David Malki of Wondermark in a Marvel comic.
Thankfully, Doreen's deal (other than eating nuts and kicking butts) is talking things over. After all, she did convince Galactus to turn from Earth to other sources of nourishment. And let's be honest, it's frankly insulting that none of the super-geniuses populating the Marvel universe could not come up with a better way to dispose of garbage and radioactive waste than “dig a big hole.” You've got two or three Superman counterparts (Hyperion, Blue Marvel and Sentry, depending on whether the last one is alive or dead right now, it's hard to keep up sometimes). Reed Richards really is useless.

This time, however, it backfires on her. This is the first anyone's been nice to Harvey – and more specifically, this is the first time anyone female has been nice to Harvey. So he reasons, similarly to many real life men, that if a lady is nice to him (even if it's in her job description to be nice to people, like a waitress or a barista) and/or is smiling, it means she must like them in a romantic way and must want to hook up later. So he proposes to her.

Nope, that pun isn't helping, this is still a terrible situation and he's an awful person.
Mole Man is basically the avatar of “Nice Guys.” In case you've been lucky enough not to meet any of them, they're a bunch of entitled dudes who whine about how they don't get to date any girls despite being so very nice and kind and caring. They demand romantic/sexual reciprocation every time they do something nice for them, which indicates that if they weren't interested in a reward in that manner, they'd treat women like utter trash. Whenever they don't get what they want, it's always the woman's fault for not seeing how good for her they are.

Now, Mole Man has always been taking things out of proportions. Granted, other people always treated him badly for how he looks, and admittedly the knowledge that there are people living underground never stopped them from dumping their garbage in the ground. But time and again, his reaction to even the smallest slight has been “invade the surface world.”

In any case, Doreen does what women try to do when faced with an unwanted suitor – tries to turn him down gently, saying that she has commitments on the surface, and plus, it's not like there are squirrel underground, so they're from two different worlds. So Mole Man does what Nice Guys do when faced with rejection: he doubles down. If squirrels don't live underground, he'll make them: by lowering Central Park 150 feet below ground. And when she, Nancy and another fellow college student/animal-themed superhero, Ken Shiga, a.k.a. Koi Boi, arrive on the scene, he continues to pressure her into romantic involvement and pawing at her.

Nancy Whitehead, the hero we need.
And this is something Doreen is happy Nancy did; she later thanks Nancy for doing it, saying that she admires her ability to put her foot down and plainly say “no.” They're great friends, is what I'm saying. Or, if you ship them, more.

Of course, when she continues to turn him down, his response is to blame her friends for “poisoning” her mind and attack them. Luckily, both Doreen and Ken are capable superheroes and beat down the entire Moloid army with ease. He seems to finally get that she doesn't want to be romantically involved with him. End of story?

Haha, no. If there's one thing you can say about Nice Guys, is that they're unbearably persistent. This time, he lowers world monuments below ground and holds them hostage unless she goes on a single date with him.

He's such a nice guy, y'all.
And the world reacts… depressingly predictably. They blame Squirrel Girl for it, MRA trash starts spouting “not all men” and J. Jonah Jameson outdoes himself by demanding creeper photos of Squirrel Girl on dates “with people of even lower caliber than Mole Man.” Though the upside is that we get a joke of Doreen potentially reenacting the Spider-Man photos from Peter Parker shenanigans and thus solving her student loan problems.

Doreen tries to go to Mole Man to talk things over, but is unable to get to the tunnel in Central Park is surrounded by reporters. Nancy tries again later, with Doreen serving as a distraction, but Mole Man won't take no for an answer.

Also, the footnotes on this page and next bring up the coolness of star-nosed moles. Google 'em, they're dope!
Instead, he accuses Nancy of being romantically interested in Doreen herself (which she doesn't deny! Crack this ship, shippers!) and attempts to trap hersuch a nice guy–but thankfully, Nancy brought Tippy and other squirrels in her bag and manages to get away. This is the last straw for Doreen and she comes to the realization that she doesn't need the Central Park tunnel, because:

She's the best at what she does, and what she does is... usually pretty cute and fun.
And thus we get to the final confrontation with the Mole Man, which gets interrupted when… one of the Mole Monsters, Tricephalous, pronounces their love for him. They loved him ever since he arrived in the underground realm. Thus a solution comes to Doreen via Tippy – pretend to lose the fight so Mole Man moves his romantic interest from her to Tricephalous.

To be honest, I'm not very happy with ending. Mole Man is let off the hook more than I believe is justified (they don't even make him raise Central Park to proper elevation). I don't think he really deserved a happy ending here. But on the whole, the comic's heart was in the right place. The rest of the arc was enjoyable, funny, and presented the male entitlement (for the most part) without sugarcoating it and any false justification. And that's a good outcome for an adventure Doreen calls “That Time I'd Just Met a Dude, But He Still Thought He Knew What I Wanted Better Than I Did, Hah Hah Hah, Why.”

Plus, more fuel for the Nancy and Doreen ship. Win!

Dominik Zine is a nerdy lad from northeastern Poland and is generally found in a comfy chair with a book in hand.