That’s the first word that comes to mind when reading the first issue of the new solo series starring America Chavez from Marvel. Why did it take so long for her to get her own series? The world may never know.
America burst onto the Marvel Comics scene in 2011 as a secondary character in a miniseries titled Vengeance and then became a main character in the 2013 run of Young Avengers from Keiron Gillen. That series cemented her place in comics fans’ hearts and after taking a leading role in The Ultimates after the Battleworld debacle, she’s finally got her own book.
The series is written by Gabby Rivera, a newcomer to the comics industry, with art by Joe Quinones (Howard the Duck). Rivera, herself a Latina, queer woman like America, shows no qualms about diving head first into a new comic book, and the fast-paced story that she brings to America #1 is refreshing, funny and with the right amount of heartache.
The story begins with America leading several members of the Ultimates in a mission to protect a planet in the Utopian Parallel. After America punches the villain in true America fashion and makes it burst into a million stars, the team returns to Earth and readers get to briefly meet America’s girlfriend. The two women fight, America visits best friend Kate Bishop (AKA the best Hawkeye) and then heads to Sotomayor University. She is reunited with fellow Young Avenger, Prodigy, which eventually leads America to doing some light time travel because it wouldn’t be Marvel without time-travel shenanigans.
Rivera’s grasp of America as a character is iron-clad throughout the inaugural issue. We are able to see America at her strongest moments (punching a villain so hard she explodes) and her most vulnerable (missing her two mothers who died saving the multiverse). Twinging the heroic moments with heartache and sadness adds a nice complexity to America and fleshes out the character in a way that we haven’t seen before. Not to mention Rivera has a good handle on America’s irreverence and sarcastic humor that shine in her interactions throughout the book.
The storytelling is relatively fast-paced as Rivera bashes through the exposition of the series. America goes from saving a planet to fighting with her girlfriend in three short pages, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. America is known for unabashedly being herself and Rivera’s pacing of the story captures her headlong fury that is unapologetic to those not willing to keep up.
“Bare fists. Stars and hearts. Mega-babe. My best one,” Kate Bishop says at the beginning of the book in a perfect description of what America means to her and everyone.
Quinones’ art is complementary to Rivera’s story and his eye for fashion is pretty incredible. Each of America’s costume changes revolves around the American flag theme but each is a new and colorful take on America’s stylish pants-and-hoodie look. His clean panels along with the use of bright colors really helps to make America and friends pop off the page.
Drawing a line between dimensions, colorist Jose Villarrubia uses his coloring to emphasize a dichotomy of down-to-earth and out-of-this-world. The pages that take place outside of Earth glow with an ethereal quality and feature more muted pastels, while the Earth scenes stay grounded and more realistic, almost darker in comparison. It’s a nice detail that gives the settings a life of their own.
The book featured several characters from Young Avengers including Kate, Prodigy and Loki, which is exciting because Young Avengers was a good series that played a major role in bring America to the “mainstream.” It would be a shame, however, to see this series become an extension of that past series, as solo books are always the most exciting when we get to dive deeper into a character and her motivations.
America #1 is a strong first issue and Rivera has shown that she can handle the character exceptionally well. With humor and introspection, Rivera seems to be headed in the right direction for a new take on this beloved hero.