REVIEW: America #1 – “Pa’ Fuera, Pa’ La Calle”

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AMERICA #1
Writer: Gabby Rivera
Penciler: Joe Quinones
Inkers: Joe Rivera & Paolo Rivera
Colorist: José Villarrubia
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Price: $3.99

Release Date: 3/1/17

After her work with both the Young Avengers and the Ultimates, America Chavez is ready for a new lease on life with fewer superhero team-ups. So where does she decide to go? College, of course!

Plot: America‘s brand-new solo title begins with a rescue mission on Maltixa, a planet on the outskirts of the Utopian Parallel. America Chavez and the Ultimates save the day, after which she rushes to meet her girlfriend Lisa for dinner. However, Lisa breaks the news that she won’t be following America to school, leading to a heart-wrenching breakup.

After making it to Sotomayor University with the help of her good friend Kate Bishop, America is thrust into an incredibly fast-paced ‘Intergalactic Revolutionaries & You’ class. Professor Douglas is not impressed with her, but she already thinks highly of fellow classmate David Alleyne.

Prodigy shows America his Wayback machine to help her prepare for the next class… Which winds up with America traveling back to non other than World War II Germany.

Story: As a primer for everything America Chavez, this issue works remarkably well. It doesn’t bog the reader down in exposition, but still manages to convey the important beats of her life in a way that feels natural. For example, after helping a mother and daughter to reunite, she thinks back to her own moms and their sacrifice to save the multiverse. Her previously established dynamics with characters such as (the real) Hawkeye and Prodigy are also woven into the narrative in a believable fashion, showing off Gabby Rivera’s strengths as a storyteller right off the bat.

There are a lot of threads America needs to pick up to keep her in continuity with her previous Marvel Universe appearances, as well to propel her forward into her solo plot line. It’s impressive that the story flows so smoothly considering that, but none of the situations she finds herself in feel out of place. Of course the majority of the issue is spent on exploring her character, and that is to the writer’s credit. All too often, comic stories dive right into the plot and fill in the characters along the way, which can work but doesn’t allow readers to get invested as quickly. Meanwhile, I’m on board for anything America wants to do from the moment she rescues little Imani on Maltixa.

The Wayback machine is a clever device to jump start her journey through the multiverse, and Professor Douglas provides a perfect motivation. As America’s very first action when she arrives in Nazi Germany – which has probably already been spoiled for you, but I won’t repeat it here – she is a hero through and through. She may have decided to step back for now, but justice always calls to her.

Art: Joe Quinones has a very distinctive style that works for America, at times making her look like a mural come to life. While the facial expressions are at time very cartoonish, especially from afar, but the dialogue and body postures do an excellent job of conveying emotion when combined. While there wasn’t a lot of action throughout the issue, the scenes that bookend America #1 make it clear that the art team knows how to handle fight sequences.

Joe Rivera, Paolo Rivera & José Villarrubia round out the artwork with inks and colors, and together make for a unique look at feels true to the story. While it may be odd to note, plenty of graphic novels will have non-white Latinx characters but color them and draw them as if they are white. These artists, however, clearly know how to depict indigenous characters – even if they are from a parallel universe. It’s truly lovely to see.

Verdict: America #1 is a delight to experience, and opens the door to a multiverse of possibilities. Chavez as a college student by day and reluctant multiverse protector by night is sure to be a fun and exciting read every month.

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