Marvels Snapshots gives fans the opportunity to revisit the earlier years of Marvel's comic book universe and stories that would otherwise have gone untold, but the latest entry, Marvels Snapshots: Avengers, is definitely a tale that didn't need to be told. With previous entries providing interesting takes on characters such as the Fantastic Four's Human Torch and the X-Men's Cyclops at the start of their careers, Avengers opts to look at a number of citizens living in New York City and dealing with the repercussions of a super-powered battle taking place over their sky line.
The original Marvels series did a fantastic job of showing the man on the street's perspective during some of Marvel's biggest events, from the "Death of Gwen Stacy" to the "Arrival of Galactus," and that was helped by the protagonist of Phil Sheldon. Sheldon attempts to provide for his family as a photographer and while he was a good man at heart, he had his issues to work through in the series. Unfortunately, the two protagonists of this one shot, Kerry the EMT and Jay the police officer, are no Phil Sheldon.
A "man on the street" story within a superhero-laden world like the Marvel Universe has its fair share of hooks to drag in readers, but Kerry and Jay are so saccharine in their stilted dialogue that it is hard to relate to either of them, let alone not cringe as they attempt to flirt with one another while the city comes down around them. Writer Barbara Randall Kesel simply doesn't give readers enough to care about this pair, let alone their budding romantic advances.
Throughout the story, characters talk about their encounters with heroes in their lives and said encounters don't go a long way in telling us more about the citizens or how they view the heroes and villains themselves, which is really unfortunate. Even when Jay runs into Iron Man in a dark alley, the story decides to take the safest, most predictable route possible that will have you rolling your eyes.
One interesting aspect of the story is the idea of "Public Safety Protection Facilities," bunkers created throughout New York City specifically to save New Yorkers when super powered beings wreck the metropolis. These, like so many other aspects of this story, are another missed opportunity as readers don't get the opportunity to see how citizens having to rely on these bunkers has an effect on their lives.
Staz Johnson's artwork here is filled with glaring, easily corrected mistakes and appears rushed. Characters' eyes are shown off center in multiple panels and the lack of detail throughout the issue does little to endear readers to this story. Scenes where the focus is on Tony Stark's face while in the Iron Man armor are hilariously ghastly, and the story will have you laughing for all the wrong reasons.
Kessel is clearly trying to take a page from Kurt Busiek, but just can't seem to replicate the same perfect symmetry that Busiek has summoned in works like the original Marvels and Astro City.
Ultimately, Avengers: Marvels Snapshot is a story unable to capitalize on showing readers anything they haven't seen before and it's truly unfortunate because there is a lot of gold to be mined from following ordinary citizens around in a world filled with gods and monsters. The strength of this Snapshot series is the different takes on the Marvel universe, but this particular story following Kerry and Jay is one best forgotten or left unread altogether.
Published by Marvel Comics
On November 18th, 2020
Written by Barbara Randall Kesel
Art by Staz Johnson
Colors by Jim Charalampidis
Letters by Ariana Maher
Cover by Alex Ross