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Comic Book / Marvels Snapshots

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Marvels Snapshots is a series of one-shots released in 2020 and 2021 exploring the early days of the Marvel Universe through the viewpoint of non-superheroes. Each issue is curated by Kurt Busiek, but written and illustrated by someone else. The stories themselves serves as a Spiritual Successor to Marvels, which was about the emergence of superheroes in the Marvel Universe through the lens of a photojournalist — Marvels Snapshots, on the other hand, takes a look at superheroes through many different lenses.

The issues so far:

  • Marvels Snapshots: Sub-Mariner #1. Written by Alan Brennert, with art by Jerry Ordway.
  • Marvels Snapshots: Fantastic Four #1. Written by Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer, with art by Benjamin Dewey.
  • Marvels Snapshots: Captain America #1. Written by Mark Russell, with art by Ramon Perez.
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  • Marvels Snapshots: X-Men #1. Written by Jay Edidin, with art by Tom Reilly.
  • Marvels Snapshots: Spider-Man #1. Written and illustrated by Howard Chaykin.
  • Marvels Snapshots: Avengers #1. Written by Barbara Kesel, with art by Staz Johnson.
  • Marvels Snapshots: Civil War #1. Written by Saladin Ahmed, with art by Ryan Kelly.
  • Marvels Snapshots: Captain Marvel #1. Written by Mark Waid, with art by Colleen Doran.


Marvels Snapshots: Sub-Mariner #1: "Reunion"

After the end of the Second World War, Betty Dean decides to take her boyfriend, Namor the Sub-Mariner, to Coney Island to relax. However, the scars of the war and what happened to Namor run deep, deeper than anyone expects.
  • Berserk Button: When Namor sees the swastika on the Shark's armor, he goes ballistic.
  • Ignored Epiphany: After revealing what happened in Bitburg, Germany, Namor finally breaks down in tears and Betty hugs him and suggests he can see a doctor about his shell which point, he pushes her away and says he needs no doctor, because he is Namor, and flies away.
  • Not So Above It All: At first, Namor doesn't seem that interested in Coney Island, until he sees a place where he can dive into the water and splashes his girlfriend as a joke.
  • Shark Man: Subverted with the Shark: he's just a regular guy wearing armor that makes him look like a shark.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: It's very clear that this is what Namor has become, after seeing what the Nazis did to people in their concentration camps. Betty sympathizes, because her brother is going through the same thing.

Marvels Snapshots: Fantastic Four #1

Dorrie Evans was once the girlfriend of Johnny Storm, the Human Torch, back when he still lived in Glenville, Long Island, before he was famous. Now, it's his ten year high school reunion and everybody is waiting to see him return, but memories run deep.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When the owner of the Johnny Storm museum describes all the villains Johnny fought in Glenville, he describes, "Fake Captain America. Evil, Magic Bob Ross Painter Guy. Paste-Pot Pete."
  • Continuity Nod: Due to the news reports, it's pretty easy to pinpoint exactly when this story takes place — right during the Red Zone storyline in Avengers in 2003.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Everyone that is interviewed for the news, aside from Dorrie, describes Johnny Storm as pretty full of himself and kind of a jerk, even if he saved the town from supervillains. They hardly show any enthusiasm for his return for the reunion...until the reunion is over and everyone meets at the beach in order to have an actual party with Johnny, whom they were all just pretending to dislike so that supervillains wouldn't target them anymore. It turns out that pretty much the whole town likes him because he's actually a really nice guy.
  • Museum of the Strange and Unusual: Glenville has their own museum dedicated to Johnny Storm's exploits in Glenville.

Marvels Snapshots: Captain America #1

Felix Waterhouse was a young kid from the Bronx when the Madbomb went off and the world went crazy. Afterwards, determined to find a way out from the poverty that's trapped his family, he finds himself in the recruiting sights of A.I.M.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Felix is caught by A.I.M. and is about to be executed when Captain America and the Falcon arrive, having been alerted by what he did.
  • The Corruption: The Madbomb turns people insane and will cause them to attack and kill anyone nearby.
  • Offing the Offspring: Under the effects of the Madbomb, Felix's mother killed her other son, Jerome. Even after months of being told by her family that it wasn't her fault and she wasn't in control of her actions, she still blames herself.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: When Felix finally does end up joining A.I.M., it's only so he can make enough money to help his family and his neighborhood...until he finds out that they are making more Madbombs.
  • Teen Genius: Felix is pretty great at fixing machines. So much so that he manages to get the attention of A.I.M., who want to recruit him.
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: After the Madbomb goes off and Captain America and the Falcon stop it, the various boroughs of New York City begin to rebuild...except for the Bronx, where Felix lives. Felix sees the government just forgetting about them and leaving them to slowly rot, which is what finally drives him into the arms of A.I.M.

Marvels Snapshots: X-Men #1: "And the Rest Will Follow"

Scott Summers was just a teenager with brain damage in an Omaha state home when he sees the emergence of superheroes and finds a new world...and a new way to figure out his place in the world.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: There are a lot of small moments that indicate Scott is on the Autism spectrum, but the writer (Jay Edidin) never outright confirms anything.
  • The Anti-Nihilist: What Scott Summers becomes. "I used to think that if I could do what you did, it would unlock the world. I'd learn to make sense of things. I would make sense. Mostly, what I've learned is how wrong I was. And that it's worth it anyway."
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: This is the origin of how Scott became this way — how he realized that he needed to figure out how to do everything and plan for every contingency.
  • Arc Words: "Four people climb into a cockpit. Strap in. Take off. Something goes horribly, horribly wrong." At first, this is about Scott's dream, which is essentially his memories of his family's plane being taken by the Shi'ar. The second time he uses this phrase, however, is in reference to the emergence of the Fantastic Four.
  • Determined Defeatist: At the end of the issue, as an older Scott prepares to rescue members of the FF, Reed tells him that he can't ask him to do this. Scott them tells him, "A long time ago, I heard someone say that in this line of work, there's a point where you have to rely on instincts. Do what's right, and trust the rest will follow." When Reed asks if, in Scott's experience, that's what generally happens, Scott replies, "Not always. But we keep trying."
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: This is the only story where the viewpoint character is a just takes place before they became one.
  • Monochrome to Color: The beginning of the issue deliberately uses a lot of dark blues and grays to make Scott's world seem depressing. That changes when the Fantastic Four emerge with a huge splash of color.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • When Scott is researching the Fantastic Four and other superheroes, the library table is covered with magazines whose covers are period appropriate to the time period that Scott would have grown up in if there was no sliding timescale (so the 1950s), including a Saturday Evening Post with this Norman Rockwell cover, only with the Thing instead of the policeman.
    • The scientists at the Grand Opening of the Agriculture Futurism Center are Dr. Reed Richards, Dr. Anthony Stark, and Dr. Peter Corbeau, who will later become very well acquainted with the X-Men and help them get into space.
  • Orphanage of Fear: The Omaha State Home for Boys isn't quite this yet, but it's close. Especially when you remember that the person running it is Mister Sinister.
  • Time Skip: The end of the issue just from a young Scott finally deciding to use his powers for good to Scott leading the X-Men (in some adventure from the '90s) in order to rescue members of the Fantastic Four.

Marvels Snapshots: Spider-Man #1: "Dutch Angles"

Victor "Dutch" Hollander is a former small-time thief who just wants to get out of the criminal business and start a new life fresh and clean. However, when he's roped into one last crime, he might be in over his head...

  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Victor's big thing. He doesn't want to be roped into the strange world of costumed heroes and villains and would rather be on the straight and narrow.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Despite nearly being killed by Backlash and saved by Spider-Man for stealing a set of Powered Armor, Ronnie still wants to stay in the criminal game. Victor doesn't and cuts ties with Ronnie.
  • One Last Job: Victor's friend Ronnie ropes him into one of these so he can get the money to live better.

Marvels Snapshots: Avengers #1: "Heart Rate"

Marvels Snapshots: Civil War #1

Marvels Snapshots: Captain Marvel #1