Artists: Joe Quinones (penciller), Joe Rivera & Paolo Rivera (inkers)
Colorist: Jose Villarrubia
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Cover: Joe Quinones
Publisher: Marvel Comics
A review by Nico Sprezzatura.
While the Marvel Universe hasn’t been lacking characters who fall under the LGBTQ umbrella, they’re rarely given a spotlight with their own ongoing title, and are usually relegated to supporting status elsewhere as consolation. Progress towards greater diversity in the world of capes ‘n cowls is definitely being made, but there’s still plenty of work to be done. Thankfully, Miss America Chavez is here to help pick up the slack.
America #1 has been a long time coming. Originally a minor character who first showed up in the 2011 limited series Vengeance, it wasn’t until Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie’s Young Avengers when people really started paying attention. With her confident aura and multiversal powers, America —a queer Latina— quickly became a fandom sensation, with many fans clamoring for an America solo title.
It’s taken a few years, but Marvel is finally pushing America as a leading character in an ongoing series written by YA author Gabby Rivera (Juliet Takes a Breath) and drawn by Joe Quinones (Howard the Duck), with Jose Villarrubia, Travis Lanham, and the father-son duo of Joe & Paolo Rivera rounding out the creative team.
Perhaps taking a page from Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, America #1 follows our titular heroine as she starts to ponder her place in the world — specifically, as a badass crimefighter who finds her job a little too easy. The solution? Time to enroll in college!
Naturally, America’s version of college isn’t your typical undergrad situation. Why would she settle for one college experience when she could sample all the colleges in the multiverse? She isn’t limited to the present-day, either; without spoiling anything, let’s just say an infamous historical figure gets a piece of America’s mind by the end of this issue.
Rivera was a total unknown to me prior to America’s announcement back in November, but her work in this issue lead me to believe the character is in pretty great hands. Rivera strikes all the right notes of “tough but sweet” that America’s known for, and her brief interaction with bestie Kate Bishop gives us a taste of that. Plus, Rivera shares America’s identity as a queer Latina, which lends some much-needed authenticity and diversity to Marvel’s stable of creators.
We also get a glimpse into America’s relationship with girlfriend Lisa Halloran, which seems to be on shaky ground. I’m a very big proponent of letting queer characters exist outside of their established ships; Steve Orlando’s Midnighter got some flak for breaking him up with Apollo, but I couldn’t have cared less about that aspect — especially since they ended up getting back together, anyway. If spending some time away from Lisa gives America the clarity she needs about their relationship, I’m all for it.
The art on America #1 perfectly compliments Rivera’s script. I loved Quinones’ work on Howard the Duck, and I’m glad we’re getting a new showcase for him here. As well, Quinones’ redesign of America’s costume is equal parts classic and modern, reflecting her Latina identity loudly and proudly. I just love a good jacket, alright?
While Quinones handled his own inking on Howard, Joe & Paolo Rivera (no relation to our writer) assume that job here, and you can see the difference. It’s still very obviously Quinones’ pencils under their inkwork, but the blacks are more pronounced and clean — they maintain all the best aspects of Quinones’ work, but offer just enough differentiation to give him a new aesthetic. Similarly, Villarrubia’s colors are vibrant and candy-coated, serving the upbeat feel of the art.
America #1 is an easy recommendation from me — buy it! I’m always one for supporting diversity in superhero comics when I see it, but America Chavez is a character who’d be getting my dollar regardless. Building off her past while setting up an exciting future to come, America #1 will only make you wonder why it’s taken so long for this series to arrive.