MARVEL’S SNAPSHOTS: X-MEN #1, available from Marvel Comics on September 16th, reaches back into Scott Summers’ childhood and retells how heroes are born with a little inspiration from other heroes. Written by Jay Edidin with art from Tom Reilly, this is the first Marvel Snapshots issue to showcase the tactical leader of the X-Men, and it’s the best Marvel’s Snapshots issue this reviewer had read to date.
Despite the vague title, Alex Ross’ cover nails the content by focusing on the subject of this issue. Scott is the planner, the leader who gets everyone moving in the right direction. He’s as laser-focused as his optic blasts, but he wasn’t always that way. It’s an interesting play to show a cover of the ending for an issue that starts at the beginning.
Edidin’s story deeply inhabits the personality of Scott Summers before he becomes Cyclops and before he even discovers he’s a mutant. We often see the origin of X-characters when they turn, and the X-gene becomes activated. That would have been the easy choice. Instead, Edidin goes back further to the plane crash that “killed” his family and subsequent life in an orphanage. From those early years, Edidin portrays a boy feeling the pull of heroism and leadership. The force grows more potent with the dawn of heroes, mostly via the arrival of the Fantastic Four and the realization that heroes inspire and beget more heroes.
MARVEL’S SNAPSHOTS: X-MEN #1 is a strong character piece by Edidin that tells a personal story of growth for a boy who chooses his path to become a man, and eventually, a hero in his own right. This comic is an excellent story by Edidin.
Reilly’s art style works very well for the type of narrative and the time frame in which the story is set. Scott is awakened to the concept of heroes by watching the Fantastic Four’s first public battle on TV. Reilly designed the issue in a retro, mid-century 1950’s style that’s reminiscent of the dawn of the American space age. That style typifies the nuclear family tone of the Fantastic Four, and it sets a time period for the story that places Scott in Marvel continuity in an organic way.
Reilly also chose to keep most of the panels zoomed in on Scott to force the reader to view the world as near as possible from Scott’s perspective. It’s a great panel choice to maintain the personal feel of the story—lots of great creative choices here by Reilly.
Consistent with the retro style of the issue, Chris O’Halloran uses liberal amounts of blues on most of the pages to imply the story is in Black & White. It’s not, and when the full-color panels pop, they boldly stand out, but the patina of blues helps emphasize the sense that you’re watching an old documentary. O’Halloran’s color choices elevate Edidin’s story nicely.
Tom Orzechowski’s lettering is the glue that holds this issue together. Edidin’s story is heavily dependent on Scott’s inner monologue to carry the whole way through. By specifically coloring and breaking up Scott’s thoughts into a very specific lettering style, it makes the story very easy to read, and the technique enhances the idea that you hear Scott’s thoughts as he wrestles with his choices. Great work here from Orzechowski.
MARVEL’S SNAPSHOTS: X-MEN #1, available from Marvel Comics on September 16th, is the best of the Snapshots so far by a country mile. The story is a thoughtful coming-of-age tale during the dawning age of heroes, and the artwork blends seamlessly with the writing. I strongly recommended picking up the book.