Marvels Snapshot: Captain Marvel #1 Review

by Charles Martin on February 24, 2021

Marvels Snapshot: Captain Marvel #1 Review
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Claire Roe
Colourist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The Snapshot series has a consistent mandate: Showing the Marvel universe through the eyes of "ordinary people." But the series has (mostly) abandoned retro settings and started telling contemporary stories.

The Captain Marvel one-shot certainly goes all-in on modernity. Our "ordinary person" du jour is Jenni Saito, a Zoomer teen who never met a cause she didn't like. She clashes with her mother over her activism, then breaks a grounding to investigate interesting noises on the beach.

What she finds is a superhero fight where a full slate of A-listers battles a spaceship full of alien raiders. Much phone snapshottery ensues. 

And once the good guys save the day, she gets an unlikely but awesome amount of face time with Kamala Khan and Carol Danvers. They get to know the girl and give her some useful guidance by reviewing their own origins.

I'm ambivalent about Mark Waid's recent scripting work, particularly when he writes teenagers. He's written some of the industry's cringiest "how do you do, fellow kids?" dialogue in an effort to be "hep." So I approached this teen-centric story with some trepidation.

I'll praise Mr. Waid for his protagonist. He crafts a surprisingly deep character in Jenni, evoking a young woman committed to justice (social or otherwise). And he adds an extra dimension by giving Jenni religious faith: She firmly believes that her activism falls in line with a divine mandate to do good.

On the visual front, Claire Roe tells Jenni's story with strong, simple lines. Even though this is a modern story, the chunky art evokes the Silver Age positively. Ms. Roe takes cues from previous artists on established characters. This is particularly clear with her Ms. Marvel, who blends elements from past portrayals by Mahmud Asrar and Takeshi Miyazawa.

The artist makes Jenni her own, using a more personal style to bring out her emotions. Jenni's face is very expressive, though she sometimes verges on the grotesque (some of those mouths, yikes) in a possibly-negative way. Jenni is always distinctive, though, which is important for a one-shot protagonist.

Mike Spicer provides a high-intensity colour palette that fits Ms. Roe's work like a glove on a hand. He favours two-tone shading that adds depth without compromising the dynamic power and simplicity of the linework. 

Though I was impressed by Mr. Waid's treatment of the protagonist, I was less enthused by his handling of the heroes. Despite the issue's title, Ms. Marvel is more important -- and gets more panels -- than Captain Marvel. Within the comic, this is fitting, because Kamala has the more compelling story, particularly to Jenni.

But Kamala's story is a beat-by-beat recap of her debut issue, Ms. Marvel (2014) #1. Some parts are paraphrased, some are reimagined. (And Ms. Roe does an impressive job of condensing whole scenes down into iconic single panels.) But a lot of the recap, including the critical moral, comes as direct quotes from G. Willow Wilson's script. 

That was a great script. I can't give Mark Waid a lot of credit for parroting it, though.

If the rehash of Kamala's origin is problematic, Carol's teen flashback is even more so. It leans heavily on one of the ugliest parts of her mutable origin: That she enlisted in the Air Force to defy her father, Joe Danvers. This brief portrait shows Joe at his absolute worst: abusive, alcoholic, and chauvinistic.

He's the cartoon villain in a feminist fairy tale. Mark Waid isn't the first author to dehumanize Joe Danvers this way -- but joining the dogpile was his choice. Even The Life of Captain Marvel, a series I had huge problems with, managed to paint a more nuanced picture of Carol's father as flawed but human.

The Captain Marvel issue of Snapshots is a solid standalone story about Carol Danvers and Kamala Khan inspiring a teen girl. Kamala steals the spotlight, though. This comic has strong art and sound characterization, but it doesn't inspire readers to seek out more Captain Marvel stories. It DOES promote further exploration of Ms. Marvel --  and if it gets people to dive into her 2014 series, it will have done some good beyond simply entertaining on its own. 

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
It is cool to finally see Carol learn and react to the fact that Kamala hallucinated her during Terrigenesis.