Spider-Man: Marvels Snapshots #1 Review: A Good Idea

Spider-Man: Marvels Snapshots #1
5/10
Spider-Man: Marvels Snapshots #1 makes an interesting point about crime in the age of superheroes... but then what?

Spider-Man: Marvels Snapshots #1 delivers a story written and drawn by Howard Chaykin, colored by Jesus Aburtov, and letters by Ken Bruzenak that isn't about Spider-Man even a little bit.

Spider-Man: Marvels Snapshots #1 cover. Credit: Marvel
Spider-Man: Marvels Snapshots #1 cover. Credit: Marvel

Now, before we talk about Spider-Man: Marvels Snapshots… an anecdote. If you go to a writing panel at a comic book convention, back when those were a thing, one of the most commonly asked questions from aspiring creators is: "How can I pitch my work without the fear that my ideas will be stolen?" The question has a flawed premise in two ways. It assumes that publishers or other creators are short of ideas. It assumes that ideas are valuable. It's characters and plot, the communication of some kind of point between writer and reader that transforms an idea, the most basic thing a writer can create, into a story. This is why writers like Justin Jordan can so easily just post an idea for a story on social media… because the idea is not the story.

All of this to say, Spider-Man: Marvels Snapshots #1 begins with a great idea: the existence of superheroes changed the stakes for criminals, so let's see how a smalltime criminal reacts to that change. Unfortunately, the comic never does anything with this idea. The characters are Dutch, the criminal who clearly doesn't want to be doing this from the start, his insecure partner in crime Ronnie, who barely hides his supervillain ambitions, and R0nnie's sister Vivian who couples up with Dutch and wants out of the city. They're all memorable and fairly well-realized, but they don't arc in any way. Their first caper goes down almost exactly like their last: they commit a crime together, almost interact with Spider-Man (Spidey's only appearances in the issue), and then it kind of peters out. The entire issue reads as a means for writer/artist Chaykin to show how superheroes essentially gentrify crime. Still, there is no character journeys or deeper statement the reader can take from Dutch's crimes that are as inconsequential for him in the legal and moral sense as they are for the reader.

If you absolutely love Chaykin's art style, this might be worth a read, but if you're looking for a Spider-Man comic, he's hardly in this. If you're looking for something that sheds light on any characters or tells a story you're going to feel invested in, this won't do it. It's a well-drawn slice-of-life crime story that feels, throughout, as if it's going somewhere but never does. It's not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it does feel like a lot of pages, scenes, and dialogue to amount to so little story.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.