Marvels Snapshots: Captain Marvel is not what you’d think of when thinking about a superhero story; there is no convoluted ‘friends or enemies’ confusion leading to a punch-up. Zero clones are running around. There isn’t an evil genius at work, nor are our heroes in absolute peril. Nearly all action takes place off-panel, and what action we have is incidental, a footnote. Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Captain America all make appearances, but at a distance, as context, and without consequence.
All of that out of the way, Marvels Snapshots: Captain Marvel is an amazing superhero story. It does what a good superhero story is meant to do: it moves you, inspires you. An impact is felt. It makes you want to be a better person.
Told from the perspective of Jenni, a teenager struggling with their identity, the book gives us one of those much-needed but rare glimpses of civilian life in the Marvel Universe. Societal and parental stresses are still very real, even in a world where Galactus might show up to eat the planet at any moment; inner turmoil is not negated by the appearance of Namor.
These sorts of struggles — with the self, with family, with society — are sometimes crushing. To be a teenager who can see a place they need to be but cannot quite reach is to be a person imprisoned by time, by circumstances outside their control. It’s a hard time of life, one that some people never get a chance to escape.
For a kid dealing with such problems, there are few superheroes better to bump into than Kamala Khan and Carol Danvers, characters who have — both in their world as well as ours — gone great distances to become the heroes they are. To have suffered under those pressures and come out the other side not just realized and free but as heroes is a deeply inspiring thing; both Jenni and the reader feel it.
A delight of modern comic books is a sense of the real, lived-in relationships between the characters, and this issue provides a nice, earnest repertoire between Carol and Kamala that feels deeply sweet. Even this is aspirational, to be taken as you are by someone you deeply respect and admire.
Stories like this one feel necessary, even when they aren’t speaking directly to your situation; it’s a mark of the characters that they fit so easily into such roles, are so momentous that even the smallest moment is monumental. These are the sorts of stories I signed up to read, getting into comics all those years ago: stories that matter.
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