Captain Marvel: Marvels Snapshots #1 is the latest installment of Marvels Snapshots, a series of one-shots leading into the revival of Kurt Busiek’s iconic Marvels title this April. Each issue thus far has recounted the origins and ongoing continuity of the Marvel Universe through the perspectives of “normal” folk, and this issue takes a look at the legacies of not one but two Marvel-ous (had to do it, sorry) superheroines from the eyes of an adolescent civilian.
Jenni Saitō is your average rebellious teen who gets in trouble for yet another one of her social justice-minded causes, but even her cynicism is not a match for the luster of superheroes (relatable). After an argument with her well-meaning but non-understanding mother, Jenni sneaks out and accidentally stumbles upon a classic Avengers tussle that leads to a heart-to-heart with not just Captain Marvel but Ms. Marvel as well.
Having read some of the Marvels Snapshots series, I appreciate that these one-off stories are heavier on character than your typical superhero action, which is what the original Marvels series did so well. With a setting so full of superheroes, whose POV is essentially the only one we get on most occasions, a series like Marvels helps ground the universe and show the effect these gods among men have upon the people they’re sworn to protect.
Captain Marvel: Marvels Snapshots succeeds in that regard, though I would say the issue spends a bit too much time recounting the origin stories of Carol Danvers and Kamala Khan to really feel like an essential read. I do like that Kamala has her own opportunity to inspire someone after being inspired by Carol however many years ago, creating a full-circle moment that reminds fans of just how far Kamala has come in such a short span of time. I sort of wonder if this issue would’ve been more interesting coming from Kamala’s perspective during the early days of the Marvel Universe (she technically existed back then with the sliding timescale in effect) and how she grew to admire Carol rather than focusing on the one-off creation Jenni. The X-Men issue took a similar approach to that with pre-mutant Scott Summers, and I thought it was really worthwhile, but alas.
Writer Mark Waid’s script is serviceable, though it definitely suffers a bit from the Boomer gaze of a young “woke” person that he’s already been critiqued for in titles like Champions. We don’t really get a sense of who Jenni “is” beyond the prescribed rebel aesthetic (pink hair, an aversion to makeup, BLM t-shirts, etc.) and how she espouses the expected (but still important!) “woke” talking points of a social justice-minded youth, which leaves her feeling more like a cypher than a character. That’s not necessarily a bad thing depending on the context, but here it grates.
Claire Roe’s art at least lends a playfulness that does benefit the material. Alex Ross’s art on the original Marvels series was very much a grandiose, ultra-realistic aesthetic that highlighted the lofty status of superheroes compared to the street-level characters it followed, but I’m glad to see that these one-shots have had room to do their own thing and not stay beholden to the original vision. Her style lends itself to character work over superhero action (which she can also do), so when Jenni’s discovery of the Avengers unfolds into a double-page splash layout, it does give off the sense of landing right in the middle of a superhero battle.