Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer
Comics/Graphic Novels

Fashion Heroes: Squirrel Girl

Jessica Plummer

Contributing Editor

Jessica Plummer has lived her whole life in New York City, but she prefers to think of it as Metropolis. Her day job is in books, her side hustle is in books, and she writes books on the side (including a short story in Sword Stone Table from Vintage). She loves running, knitting, and thinking about superheroes, and knows an unnecessary amount of things about Donald Duck. Follow her on Twitter at @jess_plummer.

If you’ve been around for a while, you may have seen some of my Fashion Disasters articles, where I highlight the poor sartorial choices of superheroes who just can’t seem to get their act together. Superhero comics truly are the gift that keeps giving for those of us who are endlessly entertained by spandex wrought hideous, but every so often a hero comes along who flips the script. Who serves looks from their debut appearance onward. Who looks at the genre’s weird headsocks and tiny gloves and excessive zippers and says: “Not today. Not ever.” They are the few, the proud, the Fashion Heroes. Today: Squirrel Girl!

Doreen Green, AKA Squirrel Girl, debuted in Marvel Super-Heroes #8, AKA Marvel Super-Heroes Winter Special (Winter 1991), and was created by Will Murray and Steve Ditko. Doreen, who has all the powers of a squirrel and all the powers of a girl, was a relatively obscure character until a few years ago, when she enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity, thanks largely to her delightful 2014 solo series, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. But I’m going to say it’s also because she is relentlessly fashionable. Let’s take a look at some of the ensembles she’s blessed us with over the past 30 years!

Two panels from Marvel Super-Heroes #8.

Panel 1: Doreen is talking to Iron Man. She is wearing a brown fur vest, leg warmers, and arm warmers over a gray shirt, leggings, gloves, and boots. She has a red utility belt with multiple pouches, and black diamond shapes around her eyes instead of a mask.

Doreen: Hi! I'm Squirrel Girl.

Iron Man: Squirrel Girl?

Panel 2: A closeup of Doreen.

Doreen: Yeah. Neat name, huh?
I have questions, Ditko.

Here we have Doreen’s very first appearance. Now, I know what you’re saying: she looks simultaneously goofy and kind of terrifying. And you’re right! (Also I don’t know why Steve Ditko apparently thought squirrels had weird diamond shapes around their eyes.) But, I will make two points on her behalf: one, this costume is supposed to be a joke, and as such it succeeds marvelously. And two, she’s only 14, she’s a brand-new superhero, and her mom sewed this for her. We all have to walk before we can run, even squirrels!

A panel from G.L.A. #1. Doreen stands on a stage, waving, with a squirrel on her shoulder. She is wearing a gray skintight bodysuit under a brown fur one-piece bathing suit and matching arm and leg warmers. Her utility belt is now brown.

Doreen: Hi, there! I'm Squirrel Girl. And this li'l fella's my faithful sidekick, Monkey Joe. We're not supposed to show up until issue two...but there're some important things we need to talk about before you go any further. See, there's a lot of questionable stuff in this book, and we don't think it's suitable for everybody, especially kids!
RIP, Monkey Joe.

Now, this is more what I’m talking about! This was Doreen’s baseline look until Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, and it’s a classic. It’s very simple, but the earth-toned color palette — and, you know, fur — makes it distinctive. It’s stylish, still funny, and probably extremely cozy. Even the weird eye things are toned down! Great job, Doreen!

The cover of GLX-Mas Special #1. The Great Lakes Avengers are gathered around Santa's sleigh, which is pulled by squirrels and Doreen. Big Bertha is sitting in the sleigh dressed as Santa, and Flatman is tucked in among the presents. Mr. Immortal is being crushed under the sleigh. Doorman is skiing ahead of an avalanche at in the background.

Doreen's costume is the same as previously, but all of the fur elements are red with white trim. She wears antlers, a glowing red nose, and a belt with jingle bells on it.
I have no idea who these people are.

This festive costume is just for a cover gag — she doesn’t even wear it in the comic itself — but it’s an early precursor of one of the things that makes Doreen’s fashion sense so delightful: she dresses for the occasion. There are so many context-specific variations on her costume, and they’re always cute. Look at the jingle bells on her hips! God, I love her.

The cover of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 (first series). It's a closeup of Doreen and her squirrel friend Tippy Toe daydreaming about being carried in triumph by the Avengers, including the Hulk, Captain Marvel, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Iron Man.

Doreen wears a light brown, apparently strapless bathing suit trimmed with fur over gray tights. She has accessorized with a headband with squirrel ears, acorn earrings, a dark brown, fleece-lined bomber jacket with the sleeves pushed up to her elbows, a yellow utility belt, and light brown, fur-lined boots.
Remember when Marvel launched Squirrel Girl twice in one year? Anyway, this is the FIRST Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 of 2015.

Here it is: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. This is the time when we bask. Ahhh.

While Doreen had always looked cute, series artist Erica Henderson redesigned her to be consciously, undeniably fashionable. The bomber jacket! The boots with the fur! The whole Avengers lineup is looking at her!

No but seriously, Henderson takes silly elements — the squirrel ear headband! the acorn earrings! — and makes them adorable and purposeful. This costume doesn’t just tell you that its wearer has all the powers of both squirrel and girl, this costume looks like something actively fun to wear, that Doreen clearly feels great in. A+ all around.

(Is this whole article just an excuse to gush about Henderson’s work? Only somewhat!)

The cover of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #16. Doreen is in the foreground in a new costume: a light gray-brown turtleneck with a white color block down the front and a white collar, light gray-brown capri leggings, and a darker gray-brown skater skirt. She is also wearing red ballet flats, a red utility belt, and her usual headband and earrings.

Behind her are 5 alternate Doreens: her previous costume, her original costume, a 90s-esque Doreen in a yellow unitard with a blue jacket, a 60s-esque Doreen in a green, yellow, and gray color-blocked costume, and a 40s-esque Doreen in a black evening gown and squirrel mask.

The background of the cover is closeups of Doctor Doom and Tony Stark.
Aw, original Squirrel Girl, you little horror show.

Doreen soon rolled out another outfit, also designed by Henderson, and would switch back and forth between the two at will. This one feels a little less action-oriented to me, but it’s still completely adorable. The skater skirt over leggings is an option I’m always surprised more superheroines haven’t adopted, and the pop of red with the ballet flats and matching pouches? Chef’s kiss.

(Also, how much fun are those alternate universe versions? The Catwoman-esque Golden Age Squirrel Girl! So elegant! I die!)

But remember what I said about situationally appropriate outfits?

A panel from The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3. Doreen is standing in a doorway wearing an orange dress with a miniskirt, long white sleeves, a white collar, a white stripe down the front and white sash, and four white pockets, two on the chest and two on the front of the skirt. She is also wearing pale yellow thigh high stockings, white boots, and a black domino mask. Tippy Toe is on her shoulder.

Doreen: Doctor Doom! I don't know if you were listening in on my private conversation, but here's the short version: Looks like this "Doctor" is due for his tenure review, and I got some bad news: it's not gonna go well for him, yo!

Tippy Toe: Chkk chikk!
Hello yes I would like to buy this at the store and wear it every day. Preferably with squirrel companion included.

Here’s Doreen’s makeshift costume when she’s trapped in the 1960s. Mod perfection, while still maintaining her trademark warm/earth tones!

A page from the graphic novel The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe. Doreen stands in front of a crowd of superheroes including Deadpool, Hawkeye, Beast, Hulk, Falcon, Spider-Man, Storm, Spider-Woman, Captain Marvel, Thing, Vision, and Black Panther.

Doreen is holding Thor's hammer and wearing an Asgardian-esque outfit, including a metal helmet, a gray cape, a brown leotard over gray tights, brown boots with more fur than usual, and some kind of dark brown half skirt/capelet thing held on with a gold belt. Her hair is longer than usual and in two braids.

Doreen: Nuts to that.
She’s worthy.

Here’s Doreen in Asgardian regalia upon lifting Thor’s hammer. Now, everyone looks amazing in Asgardian clothes to begin with, and Doreen’s aesthetic translates particularly well (the fur!). I don’t know what to call that thing around her waist (a girdle?) but I want two for both casual and formal occasions.

The cover to U.S.Avengers #1, featuring Doreen at the center and a lot of military/patriotic imagery (a flag, a tank, fighter jets, etc.). Also on the cover are Red Hulk, Cannonball, Enigma, Iron Patriot, and Danielle Cage.

Doreen's usual suit and boots are red instead of brown, and her jacket is a black leather one. She is also wearing red goggles pushed up on her head and a flag-themed neckerchief.
I did not read this comic and have literally no idea why there’s a giant skull on the cover.

Serving patriotic WWII flying ace realness as a U.S. Avenger! I can’t decide whether I love the bandanna or the goggles more.

The cover to The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #17. Doreen is flying in a dark brown, long sleeved suit over gray tights, with "wings" like a flying squirrel's stretching between her wrists and hips. There is a stylized blue squirrel head insignia on her chest and matching fingerless gloves.
This Superman #1 homage makes my heart happy.

And speaking of flying, how sleek is this flying squirrel suit? I’m especially in love with the chest icon for some reason. Okay, yes, this costume was designed by a villain, but Marvel villains are peak fashion. We’ve all seen Magneto.

A panel from The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #30 featuring Doreen and Loki. Doreen looks surprised by her outfit, which is green and bikini cut on the bottom, with gold trim, a semi-sheer gold loincloth, and sheer, blousy sleeves.

Sound Effect: COOUUTURE!

Doreen: Whoa.

Loki: Right? This is why you get a genderfluid demigod to be your fashion designer. I know what works. Okay, so just stand still in that casting circle: this may tingle a bit. And hey...

And speaking of villains, Loki whipped this one up when Doreen needed a space fantasy look, and it’s perfect. The sheer blousy sleeves? The loincloth? I want to cosplay this, some day when we can all go to conventions again. I especially love that while this was created by an Asgardian and would absolutely fit in there, it bears zero resemblance to Doreen’s earlier Asgardian look. Clearly one of the powers of a squirrel is versatility.

A panel from The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #43. Doreen is wearing  black leggings, a yellow and brown fur-lined jacket with acorns on the shoulders, gray gloves, gray fur-lined boots, and a brown balaclava with a squirrel face and ears on it.

Doreen: I love it.

And when the Thor franchise spills over into the rest of the Marvel universe and Earth is frozen over, Doreen whips out this arctic number. I’ll be honest: this is the look (designed by Derek Charm, who did a stupendous job following Henderson as the series artist) that made me want to write a Fashion Heroes column about Doreen, because it is so perfectly themed and stylish. And the attention to detail! The acorns on the shoulders! Doreen, you are always on point.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl was lightning in a bottle, but given how high it raised Doreen’s profile (she was a New York Times bestseller!), Marvel is leaving money on the table if they don’t keep putting her front and center going forward. Here’s hoping we continue to see lots of Doreen, and that she continues to serve looks. And nuts, probably.

Previously in this series:

Kyle Rayner
Beast Boy