Superheroes are supposed to be characters that kids can look up to and be inspired by. The newest one-shot in the Marvels Snapshots line attempts to tell such a tale using both Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel. However, the execution of the story here leaves a lot to be desired.
Written by Mark Waid
Art by Claire Roe and Mike Spicer
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
'Rama Rating: 4 out of 10
Written by Mark Waid, with artwork by Claire Roe and Mike Spicer, Captain Marvel: Marvels Snapshot #1 centers around a teenager named Jenni, who is going through some rough times with their mom. After an intense argument where Jenni is grounded, the teenager spots an incident going off in the distance and goes to investigate. Jenni discovers the Avengers fighting off an alien invasion and ends up meeting Ms. Marvel and Captain Marvel because of it.
Most of the issue features an internal monologue from Jenni, and while some captions help build the character out, there are also some real duds, such as Jenni remarking, "There are lights and sounds" even as the reader can see in the artwork that Jenni sees an explosion in the distance. What's incredibly frustrating then, is the absence of captions at the beginning of the issue when Jenni is confronted by their mother. The issue opens with the caption, "Annnnnd here comes the lecture…" and then readers are given dialogue between Jenni and their mom.
Claire Roe's artwork makes the emotions of the conversation come through, with Jenni looking completely demoralized as Jenni's mom chastises them for arguing with a teacher about reparations, which turns into the mother complaining about Jenni's change in clothing and hair. It's made clear that Jenni's look doesn't fit into their mom's notion of how girls are supposed to look, but is that because Jenni is trans or non-binary, or still figuring it out, or is it just Jenni's style? We don't know, because despite having captions all throughout the rest of the issue, Jenni's inner monologue is silent here.
After the argument, Jenni's inner monologue resumes, "I wish she understood even a little. It's pretty simple. God did put us here to do good. Why does she make it so complicated?" However, in the argument, Jenny pushes back against their mom dismissing Jenni's behavior as "clicktivism." It's a passionate moment from Jenni, but while it's made clear that Jenni thinks "clicktivism" is wrong, we never learn why or what Jenni thinks makes their style of activism the right methodology for "doing good."
In fact, throughout the issue, it's unclear what Jenni seeks. We see the teen supporting gay rights, wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt, and other righteous causes, but these are only little vignettes into the character's past, not full scenes. We never get any self-reflection from Jenni, and no specific goal they're working towards. It's one thing for a teenager to be unsure of themselves, that's part of the pain of growing up (and then realizing, over, and over, that you still don't know). But the comic never makes Jenni's struggle more specific than "parents just don't understand" and while that's relatable, it's not made particularly compelling here.
Adding to the problem is that when Jenni does run into Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel, the stories they tell about going against their own parents' wishes are compelling because of the specificity provided. We see Kamala trying to sneak in a hot dog and a lottery ticket against her parents' cultural beliefs. We see Carol very specifically being told by her father to go make sandwiches while her brother gets to steer a boat. These are inspiring characters – that's why they have comics, TV shows, video games, and movies centered around them. But the lack of specificity to Jenni means readers don't get a concrete vision of how Carol and Kamala affect our lead character, and so these inspiring stories come off less like snapshots into their lives and more like recaps before the next chapter.
Captain Marvel: Marvels Snapshots #1 is a comic that tries to be inspiring and uplifting, but ultimately fails to deliver that message. The main character seems like more of a patchwork of teen angst and support for real-world causes than a three-dimensional character. To the comic's credit, the general message "fight on against the powers that be" is perhaps a better message than trying to offer some sort of concrete methodology in a 30-page story. But that's also incredibly depressing.
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