Full disclosure: I’ve been talking up America Chavez for years, ever since her Young Avengers run. I’ve shoved copies of Ultimates in more faces than I can accurately remember. I am a card-carrying member of the “Give America a movie” club. I, predictably, hit the roof when I learned Marvel was finally giving her a solo run.
After months of waiting and anticipation, it’s finally here.
… and I’m totally not feeling it.
I spent a good half hour early this morning dealing with a sense of overwhelming disappointment. The art was background bare, the linework fuzzy or too faint. The story was paced horrifically and felt like a disjointed mess. America, while impetuous at times, came off as something of a cad for her reaction to relationship bump with her (ex?)girlfriend.
I’ve sat staring at this review and the title for a couple of hours. It’s not at all what I wanted to write for this historical run. And I think I’ve had an epiphany moment.
I’m a queer woman. I’m also over 30 and so white-passing it’s painful, with a steady day job on top of being an editor for the Fandomentals. I’ve done college, I’ve done all the twenties milestones.
You know what? This title isn’t for me. And it’s the first time I’ve really been confronted by this knowledge for something I loved and hadn’t realized yet. This is, essentially, my Beyonce and Lemonade moment.
It kinda sucks a lot.
But you know what doesn’t suck? Queer youths of color that are finally getting to see themselves represented in a story medium that has long denied them a place at the main table. Sure, America’s been around for a while. But she’s been on team titles. Sure the Young Avengers had Teddy and Billy, but they’re also relegated to team titles and both pass as white.
America #1 is the first time young queer people, especially queer people of color, get to see themselves as the main hero. Gabby Rivera is writing a story for them, and she’s doing it with style. With our modern technology, life changes in a heartbeat. That rings true for America. And while she’s an inter-dimensional door-kicker and butt-kicker of evil, she’s still a young woman trying to be better and learn more. America’s trying to grow up, and live up to her mothers’ legacies. Even if that means leaving a relationship and partner she loved to do so.
So she goes to a specialized university that is honestly any progressive’s ultimate fantasy, meets an old friend (Hey Prodigy!), and ultimately goes time hopping.
Yeah, this isn’t written for me. The crowd it’s written for, though? When I re-read the issue and remove my ego from the equation, this is pretty much right in their wheelhouse and exactly what I would have wanted over a decade ago. Who the fuck am I to shit on that?
Go read it. Give it a whirl. If you’re in my boat, you’re supporting a worthy title and getting a lesson on taking the story for what it is and not what you want it to be in relation to you. The world revolves around all of us, and America gives us a lovely medium in which to learn about others. The earlier cranky rantings of an older fan not used to the different pacing and art? Yeah. If I can learn, so can you.
If you’re younger, queer, a person of color? This is pretty much everything you’ve ever hoped to see yourselves in, and Rivera and Quinones end with the ultimate, number one, this will never, EVER be topped action sequence.