If you’re looking for a podcast that eats nuts and kicks butts, look no further. Just like the comic that preceded it, Marvel’s Squirrel Girl: The Unbeatable Radio Show delivers the goods. With an irresistible fourth-wall shattering format and all the humor and warmth of the Marvel Comics series on which it is based, The Unbeatable Radio Show is audio narrative bliss.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
While The Unbeatable Radio Show is indeed a sequel to 2015’s The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi, Clayton Cowles, Travis Lanham and (later on for more than fifty issues of the series) Derek Charm, it doesn’t require that you read the comics that precede it to enjoy it. That being said, if you were a fan of the comic series, listening to the podcast should be considered compulsory.
Have you wondered what Doreen Green (A.K.A. Squirrel Girl), Tippy Toe, Nancy Whitehead, Koi Boi, Chipmunk Hunk, Rachel Oskar and Brian Drayne have been up to since The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl ended? Obviously, the answer is “yes.” Newbies to the heroes will swiftly learn through the podcast that the cast of characters will charm even the most skeptical untrue believer.
The comic featured sight-and-text-based gags like Deadpool’s Super Villain Trading Cards (featuring a rotating and eclectic roster of artists) or the tiny-font writing in the bottom gutter of each page. While it’s obviously not possible for an audio drama to replicate some of these elements, The Unbeatable Radio Show manages to perfectly capture the tone of the Marvel Comics on which it is based.
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This success is thanks in part to the fact that North has scripted all six episodes himself and that each of the characters has been perfectly cast. The show features Milana Vayntrub as Doreen, Erica Schroeder as Tippy, Crystal Lucas-Perry as Nancy, Leo Sheng as Koi Boi, Davied Morales as Chipmunk Hunk, Peter Hermann as Drayne and Tina Benko as Rachel.
In addition to seeing the return of our favorite characters from The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl comics, The Unbeatable Radio Show brings the benefits of its new medium to the forefront. The setup for the series (which you can read for yourself in an Infinity Comic by North and Charm that was released on Marvel Unlimited the same day as the first podcast episode launched) sees Doreen and Nancy working together on a weekly call-in show at their school, Empire State University, with Doreen as host and Nancy in the booth.
One of the best parts about the podcast is that it never wavers from this radio show conceit: you never hear anything that the “listeners at home” in the Marvel universe wouldn’t hear. And the premise pays off in many other ways, too, like a recurring bit where Magneto calls in thinking he’s reached Xavier’s Institute for Gifted Youngsters. According to North’s newsletter, this Magneto schtick was begun by David Malki, the webcartoonist behind Wondermark. He also worked on The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, having contributed a Wondermark-style page to issue #9 in 2016.
A Better Kind of Hero
If you’ve had the chance to read any of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl comics, you’ll know that Doreen often overcomes her antagonists not by physically beating them but by empathizing with them and helping them find a way to live that doesn’t force them to resort to super-villainy. Not only does this provide an opportunity to have her former opponent return as a friend-of-the-show, but it also meshes perfectly with the concept of a call-in show.
Furthermore, empathy is one of the qualities that Doreen and Squirrel Girl have in common. This makes it an ideal foundation for a radio show that’s taking place in the wake of Doreen going public with her secret identity. On more than one occasion, Doreen opines that her new unified identity is all tied up in the show’s success, raising the stakes in a relatable way.
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The radio show format also provides the opportunity for North to show off his eclectic knowledge, a hallmark of the comic that is welcome here as well. One example comes from the Magneto calls mentioned earlier. After successfully (and empathetically) connecting with Erik, the helmet-clad mutant shares some information about fencing stolen art. This proves useful in the pursuit of the six-episode season’s main antagonist.
Like the comic, The Unbeatable Radio Show pulls from Marvel Comics’ continuity. However, with the podcast format’s added benefit of adding guest stars to the mix and allowing their interpretations of the character to create another layer of hilarity. This includes Paul Scheer (Star Trek: Lower Decks) as a Spider-Man still concealing his identity and the always-amazing John de Lancie as the octogenarian Vulture.
As if guest stars playing Marvel characters isn’t enough, the show also features guest stars playing versions of themselves, including comedian John Hodgman and actor and director Lea Thompson (don’t worry, she mentions the Howard the Duck biopic). Each of the many callers gets the chance to interact with Doreen and her friends, leading to tons of delightful dialogue.
The Unbeatable Radio Show
Whether it’s the per-fish-tant puns of Koi Boi, the nihilistic haikus delivered by Brain Drain’s mechanical monotone, the incredible Squirrel Girl theme song, or the Nancy-selected sound effects, there isn’t a single second of this podcast that isn’t fun to listen to.
Nothing could ever replace The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. But in The Unbeatable Radio Show, the Marvel Comic has found a worthy supplement.
Marvel’s Squirrel Girl: The Unbeatable Radio Show is available to listen to for free on SiriusXM or wherever you get your podcasts.
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