- Spider-Boy and Squirrel Girl team up, but are shocked when the seemingly underwhelming Balloon Man defeats Squirrel Girl, proving to be a formidable villain.
- Squirrel Girl, known for defeating Marvel’s heavy hitters, underestimates Balloon Man’s powers and releases his weaponized balloons, causing chaos and threatening the crowd.
- The defeat of Squirrel Girl by Balloon Man is a major moment, as she has previously defeated major Marvel villains. This unexpected turn of events shakes up the power rankings of the Marvel Universe.
Warning: Spoilers for Spider-Boy (2023) #1 ahead!Spider-Boy is doing his best to take on Marvel’s New York, and teaming up with Doreen Green aka Squirrel Girl – who has trounced such figures as Galactus, Doctor Doom, and 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 underwhelming 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 the rooftops with Christina Xu and Squirrel Girl in Dan Slott, Ty Templeton and Dee Cunniffe’s story, “Balloonacy.” Their enjoyment of the passing Thanksgiving Day parade is cut short, however, when Spider-Boy’s spider-sense alerts him that the crowd is in danger; when he and Squirrel Girl investigate, they discover the culprit to be the squeaky-voiced, improbably named “Professor Emilio Helio, the Balloon Man!” Thinking that this will be an easy fight, Squirrel Girl leaps into the fray despite Spider-Boy’s warnings.
To Squirrel-Girl’s horror, popping the weaponized balloons releases waves of Balloon Man’s special gasses, knocking out her squirrels and threatening the crowds. As the villain turns the parade balloons into his giant, indestructible soldiers, Squirrel Girl realizes far too late how badly she has misjudged this foe.
Squirrel Girl is Marvel’s Undefeated Champion
For those familiar with Squirrel Girl’s tenure, this is a major moment. From her introduction in Marvel Super-Heroes (1990) #8, in which she defeated both Iron Man and Doctor Doom, Doreen Green has a recurring knack for using 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’s shown defeating a glut of villains like M.O.D.O.K, the Mandarin, Doctor Doom, Giganto, and Thanos. While Doreen’s unlikely victories were something of a running joke, later series like The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (2015) would lean into this element of her character, resulting in Doreen outfighting, outthinking, or outright befriending the gamut of Marvel villains all the way up to Galactus.
Has Squirrel Girl Met Her Match In Emilio Helio?
There is a certain poetic irony in Squirrel Girl, who has defeated almost all of Marvel’s major foes, meeting her match in a screwball character like Balloon Man. Nonetheless, his ability to stop her at all marks him as a considerable villain; rather than Balloon Man’s powers being treated as a joke counter to Squirrel Girl’s power set, he is presented here as a legitimate threat to Squirrel Girl, Spider-Boy, and all of New York. Defeating Squirrel Girl means that Balloon Man, silly voice or no, poses a major threat to the Marvel universe.
The battle is not over; the cliffhanger ending makes it clear that the fight is to continue on in Spider-Boy (2023) #2, meaning that Squirrel Girl still has a chance to rally. Nonetheless, seeing Doreen helplessly laughing, “We’re all doomed!” in the face of such a silly character massively shakes up the power rankings of the Marvel Universe. For all that Thanos, Galactus, and Doctor Doom may swear vengeance on Squirrel Girl, the unbelievable fact remains that Professor Emilio Helio, the Balloon Man, has beaten them all to the punch.
Spider-Boy (2023) #1 is now available from Marvel Comics.