So I went into this excited because I’ve love Jay’s work already and I also trust Jay as someone with good opinions and thoughts on the Summers brothers.
Now I’ve read one-shots/minis series’ of Scott Summers’ origin story before, the two that come immediately to mind are “X-Men: Children of the Atom” and “X-Men Origins: Cyclops,” but “Snapshots” rapidly outpaced them as my favorite. It’s not the most comprehensive look at Scott’s backstory, it doesn’t even begin to touch on Mr. Sinister, but what it does do is create a tangible look at how Scott’s past has impacted his present, in particular his past prior to Professor X and the X-Men.
The story is focused on Scott during his time at the orphanage where he lived after the plane crash that “killed” his parents prior to and immediately after his mutation manifesting, and the main plot is Scott trying to figure out where he fits in the world and struggling with a slew of mental health issues after the plane crash.
At the same time superheroes emerge on the world stage, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, etc. and we get to see Scott view superheroes through the eyes of a civilian. Not Cyclops, not even knowing he’s got powers of his own yet. One line I particularly loved was, “They talk like the Fantastic Four are movie characters, but they’re real people,” which I think is just a fantastic thing to think about considering the kind of public perception Scott himself attains as an adult.
The main thread that the story follows is Scott hyper-fixating on superheroes and the idea of superheroes being born from tragic circumstances, but helping people. The experiences of the Fantastic Four gaining their powers through a freak accident is paralleled with Scott’s plane crash: “Four people climb into a cockpit. Strap in. Take off. Something goes horribly, horribly, wrong.”
This leads to Scott going to see Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic speak, where he winds up involved in his first superhero/super villain fight as a bystander. This leads to Scott’s budding interest in tactical planning and then his mutation goes off.
The flashback section concludes with Scott struggling once again with who he is. Is he a monster that the Fantastic Four would fight? Or is he like them, can he help? And, because this is Scott Summers the answer is the latter. Something else I really loved about this scene was that Scott came to that realization on his own, he didn’t need Professor X to validate his worth.
Which brings us to the very final scene: in the nebulous “present” Scott is giving orders for what appears to be a mission to rescue three of the Fantastic Four, and we see Scott as Cyclops taking to Reed Richards and he quotes to Reed something that Reed had said during a TV interview while Scott was at the orphanage. That, for me, brought everything together absolutely perfectly. In one speech bubble, we understand the importance of the entire rest of the story and how foundational these early experiences were for Scott. It’s also just a great ending from a storytelling perspective too, it’s a beautifully wrapped one-shot that doesn’t leave you wanting for anything.
One more thing of note, if you are neurodivergent like myself, you may have noticed my use of the word “hyper-fixation” which is a term used in describing certain behaviors characteristic of autism and ADHD. Scott reads incredibly neurodivergent and not just in a throw away sense and it’s very easy to pick up if you are familiar with those kinds of neurodivergencies. Furthermore, this is intentional, Jay has stated himself that he was writing Scott as autistic. Of course, Word of God only means so much, but in my opinion, the proof is more than there.
While this issue came out several weeks ago, you may still be able to find it by reaching out to your local comic book shop — I got mine through Books with Pictures — and you can get it in digital through comiXology.