22nd Sep2020

‘Marvels Snapshots: X-Men #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Jay Edidin | Art by Tom Reilly | Published by Marvel Comics

The hook of these fantastic Marvels Snapshot books has been the ordinary observing the extraordinary. That is, what is it like for the more average people in the Marvel Universe? What’s their story? It’s a nice idea, and one that writers have a lot of fun with. Writer Jay Edidin puts his own spin on that take here. The ‘ordinary’ observer to events this time round is a resident of a Nebraska orphanage, a certain teenage Scott Summers. He’s destined to have a massive impact on the Marvel Universe, he just doesn’t know it yet. I love this idea for a couple of reasons. One, it’s smart. Pre-powers heroes are as ‘ordinary’ as the rest of us. Two, I’ve always felt that Scott Summers has never really been portrayed that well. Cyclops was picked as X-Men leader, and yet writers have always shown him as too bossy, too inflexible, insecure, and the blank space to bounce more colourful characters against.

Yes, Logan, I’m looking at you.

So, this is a young Scott, fresh from the plane crash that left him in a state orphanage. He remembers a brother, Alex, that everyone tells him he doesn’t actually have, and he just feels….wrong. He feels as though he doesn’t fit in, and this feels like more than just typical teen angst. He also suffers from crippling headaches that lead to frequent blackouts. Tough times for young Scott. Then, something happens that changes Scott’s life forever. Starts shooting laser beams from his eyes? Nope. He sees the Fantastic Four on TV, the birth of superheroes in the Marvel Universe, and realises nothing will ever be the same. He becomes an FF fanboy. I mean, who wouldn’t? He also identifies with the parallel between the Fantastic Four spacecraft crash and his parents plane crash, although with obvious differing results. Still, Scott now has something, someone to believe in.

Actually, as the days unfold, Scott starts to have a lot to believe in. After the FF comes Ant-Man, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, the list grows and grows. Then, the ultimate in luck. Reed Richards, Tony Stark, and Peter Corbeau (a colleague of Bruce Banner) are giving a talk locally, and Scott’s going. Wearing a new natty pair of red sunglasses too, ones that seem to help stop his headaches. Life’s getting better all the time. Scott gets to hears some interesting speeches, and sees and experiences his first superhero/ supervillain fight in person, as Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic team up. Exciting and scary all in one go. Scott just feels now is the time to stop being a victim and take control of his life, to find a purpose. Things are on the up…Until they are not. Provoked into it, Scott for the first time unleashed energy blasts from his eyes, and his life will never be the same.

Now, THIS is Scott Summers. This was magical stuff, really getting to the core of Scott’s character, his values, and showing why Scott was chosen to lead the X-Men. I loved the way Edidin showed how various factors and influences combined to make Scott who he is, his insecurity, his obsessiveness with certain things and initial reluctance to accept his abilities. Scott in the story is us, observing as he does the birth of the modern era of superheroes. His observing the FF for the first time is the same feeling we all got the first time we picked up a comic book, awe and wonder. Edidin really taps into that vein of nostalgia well. The art throughout was fantastic, nice simple lines and layouts giving it all a suitably retro feel, and art you can just look at and know exactly what’s going on. A special mention as well for the colour artist, Chris O’Halloran, who’s subtle use of colour palette’s throughout really benefit the story.

This book worked on two levels for me. As a perfect character study of Scott Summers, giving him a fair shake for once, and also as a love letter to all us fans, reminding us of the sense of awe the first time we saw these characters. They changed Scott’s life, and they also changed ours. Jay Edidin really gets that. To paraphrase one of my favourite TV shows… ‘After all these years, I still look back with wonder’.

***** 5/5


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