“America” Issue 1 – Hitler Gets Punched by a Queer Woman of Color!
America Chavez finally got her solo series, and while a few things could’ve been handled better, the debut makes for a powerful punch against hate.
I’ve been looking forward to America Issue 1 since Marvel made the announcement. I was introduced to Chavez through the queer-as-heck Young Avengers, where she brought all of the members together and kept Kid Loki in line. She later went on to be a member of the Ultimates and currently serves as their leader. Yup! You heard it right. She’s leading the likes of Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Spectrum, and Blue Marvel.
Her solo series takes her to Sotomayor University because she wants to better herself as a hero and person. Now, I get why Chavez getting a solo might feel weird with the fate of everything hanging in the balance because of what’s going on in the Ultimates series. But then again, comic books haven’t been the best at continuity, so I’m all for a queer super-strong brown girl doing her own thing.
Chavez’s Young Avengers teammates, Kate Bishop and Prodigy, also appeared in this issue with Prodigy playing a bigger role. Prodigy, a bisexual ex-mutant, is the one who makes a machine that syncs with Chavez’s dimension-hopping abilities to send her through time. She punched Hitler!
Fingers crossed Wiccan appears in the series too because it’s his other-dimension version that created the world America’s from.
The only complaint I have about America Issue 1 is how she broke things off with her girlfriend. I understand that Lisa didn’t want to go with her, but they could’ve still remained a couple, especially when one of them is able to punch through dimensions. Regardless, I’m looking forward to what writer Gabby Rivera has in store for the character.
Now, let’s come to the serious stuff. There are comic book readers out there who aren’t happy with America getting her own series. Their hate (because I won’t refer to such intense emotions as mere complaints) is related to Marvel pandering to POC and queer readers. So, here are some of my thoughts to some of their comments.
- America is queer because she has two mothers.
As queer kids happen to straight parents even when they’re raised in predominantly ‘straight’ environments, the same holds true for America. She wasn’t made queer by her two mothers, she was born queer. In the same manner, queer parents can give birth to, or adopt, kids that are straight. Sexuality is far more complex than something that can be influenced by the kind of environment a person grown up in.
- Marvel is pandering to a few of its readers.
If you think that putting the spotlight on sexually and racially diverse characters is pandering, then there really isn’t anything I can say about it. How do you propose Marvel should go about introducing diverse characters without it coming across as pandering to some readers? They can’t just continue writing stories about cis-white male characters. They’ve been doing that for decades. It’s high time for a change, regardless of some readers thinking that Marvel, and other comic book companies, have sold themselves out to attract queer and POC readers.
- The America Chavez craze will fizzle.
Again, who cares? Even if America’s solo series only lasts for six issues because it didn’t sell well or Marvel found some other queer POC character to focus on, it still allowed underrepresented readers to feel some sort of support in their life. And that’s what matters.
Have you read America Issue 1 yet? What did you think? Let us know.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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2 thoughts on ““America” Issue 1 – Hitler Gets Punched by a Queer Woman of Color!”
It was a really bad first issue that didn’t do any favors for a great characters gave more fuel for haters and left all of her hardcore fans I know just disappointed. I wish Gillian wrote this book.
Even though it’s allegedly a “weak” issue (says the person above me anyway) I only just found out this series exists (don’t look at me like that! I’ve been focused on other, highly involved things IRL for months, it’s been distracting)… and I want to buy the first issue or two anyway. Just to see.
Because the dimension-hopping concept sounds fun, for one, and that’s in addition to the niceness of representing a category of queer woc who’re probably more common in America than people realize (I always hear the complaint from real queer women of color that people pretty much don’t realize they exist and fiction not showing they do doesn’t help).
Not to mention, she’s written by a queer woman who is apparently also Latina herself – which is also nice, because queer women writing queer female characters, and people generally being from the sorta-same basic background culturally as the characters they write, tends to help in terms of certain elements, to keep them from ringing too false. E.g. a queer woman wouldn’t have likely written that atrocious vampire arc in the previous, flopped-after-that-happened-notice version of “Batwoman”, but Marguerite Bennett, queer woman herself, has done some wonderful work with her in both the AU “DC Comics Bombshells” series and the new “Batwoman” post-Rebirth title so far, and there’s certain elements to Latinx experiences that a non-Latinx person might not “get” (same goes for black characters, Asian-descent, etc.). Which is not to say white people can’t or should never write characters who aren’t white – if white writers don’t also break our “white as default” setting, for one, we’re less likely to ever achieve a set of comic book/tv/movie/novel etc continuities that actually reflect how many people are not white IRL, which will make it increasingly faker feeling and less relevant to the average reader on top of being somewhat boring in the level of repetition – but we have kind of an added difficulty level in getting it to feel right that someone of a closer background wouldn’t have. Like, there’s a difference in how the average straight white guy might be tempted to write a character like America Chavez, and how any number of Latinx or queer or queer Latinx writers might.
I say “might” because you never know, as each writer is individual and has some things they’re good or bad at, they grow or shift over their body of work, etc., sometimes they’ll be great for some time and then somehow drop the ball later too, but…like I said, levels of difficulty are different.
From the sounds of it, the potential hindrance here wouldn’t be the Latina + queer part, though: it seems that the level of added difficulty for HER is that the writer wasn’t previously that up on current Marvel continuity (not unfamiliar with comics from the sounds of it, but not someone who kept up with them consistently or recently) and was new to the specific character before someone tossed the entire “Young Avengers” series at her; it sounds like she’s reaching out to a lot of actual fans of the character though as she writes it, so maybe any of the early wrinkles will get evened out?
Anyway, perhaps my only vague familiarity with the character (I’ve heard of her and she sounds awesome, that’s about it) might HELP in this case for my enjoyment – I have no previous experience with the character to which I can compare. 😛 Here’s hoping I like it, because I’m going to try it anyway.
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