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Nancy Whitehead

Contributed by Mike McDermott

Nancy Whitehead is the best friend and roommate of Doreen Green, aka the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. She is a computer science student at Empire State University and has also worked as the producer of Squirrel Girl’s call-in radio show on the student campus radio. When they first met, Nancy introduced herself to Doreen by telling her “there are three things you can do to get me to hate you, Doreen: make fun of my last name, criticize my decorating, or talk smack about Mew”. Mew is Nancy’s cat, whom she adores and who is named after Thor’s hammer Mjolnir. When questioned about having a cat in the dorms being against the rules, Nancy replied that obeying an unjust law is itself unjust.

In addition to her school work and her cat Mew, Nancy’s other primary interests include knitting, sewing, and writing fan-fiction for a character of her own creation, Cat-Thor. Nancy has a shrewd and questioning mind, which has served her well in solving problems and seeing through deceptions. Her more reserved and skeptical approach serves as a good balance to Doreen’s enthusiastic optimism, which can sometimes carry her away.

Nancy is skilled at deducing the secret identities of superheroes, not only very quickly identifying her roommate as Squirrel Girl but also identifying two other superheroes who were also students in their class. She once correctly figured out that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, but due to Peter and Spider-Man being split into two separate people at the time due to bizarre circumstances Nancy was tricked into thinking she had been mistaken.

Nancy does not suffer fools gladly and is not shy about confronting people about their nonsense or bad behaviour. She is a remarkably brave person who will not hesitate to step up for what she believes is right. During an armed robbery at the campus bank, Nancy intervened when the robbers were about to kill one of the other hostages, distracted the robber from the other hostage with a string of questions and insults. After the robbery was thwarted and the hostages saved, when questioned about why she endangered herself Nancy replied “Someone had to do something, you know? And there was really no good reason for it not to be me”.

Nancy has gone on many adventures alongside Squirrel Girl and their friends, and faced a variety of villains including Mole Man, Enigmo, Ultron and Dr. Doom! She has also been taught how to communicate with squirrels by Squirrel Girl.

Throughout the series there were a number of hints that Nancy is bisexual and that her friendship with Doreen may be more than platonic. When asked about her romantic history Nancy had replied that she has had crushes on “lots of people”, without specifying gender. When Nancy intervened with the Mole Man’s attempts to claim Squirrel Girl for his bride, he accused Nancy of being in love with her and wanting Squirrel Girl for herself. The normally sharp tongued Nancy had no retort to this, and just had a wide-eyed reaction as if he hit a nerve. That may have been the first moment when Nancy realized that her feelings for Doreen had become more than just platonic.

We also saw two different scenarios where Nancy and Doreen grew old together. One was a glimpse of a possible future where Nancy and Doreen were living together in Avengers Tower, still going out on adventures together. The other was an adventure where Nancy and Doreen had been knocked into hypertime by a super-villain’s weapon and were now out of synch with the flow of time for the rest of the world. They were experiencing decades while only only days were passing for everyone else. Nancy found a way to restore them to regular time–but it meant rebooting them back to who they were before they got knocked into hypertime, without retaining any memories of their happy life together. The two women embraced and Doreen assured her that it just meant that they would get to do it all over again, and that Nancy wasn’t losing her that easily.

Although neither Nancy or Squirrel Girl have officially come out on-panel yet the subtext of their relationship was increasingly romantic by the end of the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series, and the two of them were later seen attending a Pride event together at ESU campus in the 2023 Marvel Voices: Pride issue.

Nancy Whitehead was created by Ryan North and Erica Henderson and first appeared in Tthe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl vol.1 #1.

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March 26, 2024
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