Spider-Boy is doing everything he can to take on Marvel’s New York and team up with Doreen Green, aka Squirrel Girl – who has defeated characters like Galactus, doctor doomand Thanos – should be an easy way for him to get his bearings. But when one of Spider-Boy’s old villains shows up, the seemingly disappointing Balloon Man does the unthinkable by defeating the unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
The second half of Spider Boy (2023) #1 sees Spider-Boy hanging out on rooftops with Christina Xu and Squirrel Girl in Dan Slott, Ty Templeton and Dee Cunniffe’s story, “Balloonacy”. However, his enjoyment of the Thanksgiving Day parade is interrupted when Spider-Boy’s spider-sense alerts him that the crowd is in danger; When he and Squirrel Girl investigate, they discover that the culprit is “the unlikely name” with the squeaky voice.Professor Emilio Helio, the balloon man!Thinking it will be an easy fight, Squirrel Girl jumps into the fight despite Spider-Boy’s warnings.
To Squirrel Girl’s horror, popping the weaponized balloons releases waves of Balloon Man’s special gases, knocking out his squirrels and threatening the crowd. As the villain turns the parade balloons into his giant, indestructible soldiers, Squirrel Girl realizes too late how badly she has judged this enemy.
Squirrel Girl is Marvel’s undefeated champion
For those familiar with Squirrel Girl’s tenure, this is an important moment. Since its introduction in Marvel Superheroes (1990) #8, in which she defeated both Iron Man and Doctor Doom, Doreen Green has a recurring ability to use her humble powers of agility, sharp teeth, and talking to squirrels to take out some of Marvel’s heaviest hitters; in GLX-Mas (2006) #1 Alone, she is shown defeating a glut of villains such as MODOK, the Mandarin, Doctor Doom, Giganto, and Thanos. While Doreen’s improbable victories were something of a joke, later series like The unbeatable squirrel girl (2015) would lean into this element of her character, resulting in Doreen outfighting, outthinking, or befriending the entire range of Marvel villains up to Galactus.
Has Squirrel Girl found her match in Emilio Helio?
There’s a certain poetic irony to Squirrel Girl, who has defeated nearly all of Marvel’s major enemies, meeting her match in an eccentric character like Balloon Man. However, his ability to stop her marks him as a considerable villain; Instead of Balloon Man’s powers being treated as a joke against Squirrel Girl’s powers, here he is presented as a legitimate threat to Squirrel Girl, Spider-Boy, and all of New York. Defeating Squirrel Girl means that Balloon Man, silly voice or not, poses a major threat to the Marvel universe.
The battle is not over; The cliffhanger ending makes it clear that the fight will continue in Spider Boy (2023) #2, which means Squirrel Girl still has a chance to recover. However, seeing Doreen laugh helplessly, “We are all doomed!” facing such a silly character greatly shakes the power rankings of the Marvel Universe. For everything that Thanos, Galactusand doctor doom can swear revenge on Squirrel GirlThe incredible thing is that Professor Emilio Helio, the Balloon Man, has beaten them all.
Spider Boy (2023) #1 is now available from Marvel Comics.