REVIEW: America #4 – “Don’t Guide Me, Don’t Find Me, I’m Out.”

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AMERICA #4
Writer: Gabby Rivera
Penciller: Joe Quinones with Ming Doyle
Colorist: José Villarrubia, Joe Quinones, with Jordan Gibson
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Rating: T
Price: $3.99
Release Date: 6/21/17

America

What a difference a month can make. After nearly cancelling my subscription to the book, I decided to give America at least ten issues before I pulled the plug. This month’s offering made me thankful that I decided to wait and see it through. There were much-needed improvements to the pacing of the story and the artwork have improved; the artwork was especially noticeable when Peggy Carter appeared as an image in one of the book’s better moments.

There is a lot to like about this series, and it always had potential. America appeals to a solid number of readers, the book’s creative team just needed to decide on a direction and generally keep things moving in that direction. Often times America was bogged down by having so much going on at once. Maybe it was Gabby Rivera’s initial excitement of having a comic book for the first time and feeling like she had to put as many of the ideas in there at once without realizing what it cost vis-a-vis the plot. Either way, America finally feels on-track

America

Plot: America finds out exactly why the Chavez Guerillas have been causing her so many problems. As it turns out, America had caused the problem by leaving them with a peeved dimensional being that somehow withstood the power of America’s punch. Also revealing herself to America at the end of the book is, what appears to be, an older version of herself trying to impart some wisdom; wisdom that America isn’t ready to hear.

The book does a couple things right. Primarily, it stayed on track without needing to travel here or travel there. America can travel and most fans understand that, The visits with Storm and Peggy Carter were novel, but in no way, shape, or form central to the plot of of the story. In this issue, Rivera delivers a clear and focused story, while using the back half of the pages to set up the next book.It feels very natural for the first time and here’s to hoping they stick with this winning plot.

America

Story: The story is actually a conclusion to the long-running Chavez’s Guerillas and Maltixa. Perhaps this is a way to bring America back to what was supposed to be her original setting at Sotomayor University. Perhaps it’s just a way to end a rather uninteresting story, but there are silver linings to be found even amongst chaos. This is the first time since America launched that it felt like a comic book instead of an art collage and some stories that maybe could have cooked in the oven a bit longer. None of that matters if Rivera has found her stride as a comic writer making the transition from a different medium.

There are an obscene amount of people working on this comic. It feels like Marvel wants America to succeed and they should. This has all the potential in the world to be a comic that relates to people on a Spider-Man-like level. Maybe not as many as Spidey, but it certainly has the chance to be a comic any young person could pick up relate to in some way. Kudos to Rivera for sticking with it and finding a winning formula. As someone who has had to learn to write in several different styles, I’m here to tell you that it is not an easy task. Rivera is handling it with grace and showing an earnest attempt to become proficient in writing comic books. 

America

Art: The art improved quite a bit in this issue. Maybe it was shoring up little things here and there, maybe it was finding the right partners for Joe Quinones and José Villarrubia. Either way, Marvel has been listening to some of the criticism about the art, as they continue to toy with the artistic final lineup. They also make visible improvements, such as the Return of the Jedi, Obi-Wan-like image of Peggy Carter in the sky as a grey-haired figured who looked a lot like America pleaded with Chavez to heed her warnings.

The finer edges, the more polished edges give America that feel she’s been lacking in the artistic department. Beyond that, it’s refreshing to see Marvel spend so much time trying to improve a series like this. It’s very much needed and small,. Simple fixes have released the book from its self-created torpor, that includes the artistic department. As Rivera gains confidence, so too do Quinones and Villarrubia and it shows.    

Verdict: America has rebounded and made some major changes. So long as the book is able to keep these changes permanent or at least try to stay within the framework of comic book pacing, it may be headed for greatness. There is a lot to like about America. There are also some frustrating aspects, but that’s to be expected with the growth of an author into a new arena of life. Rivera has the skills to tell a story, all this book ever needed was that comic book touch. It’s a pleasure to watch Rivera grow and improve right before our eyes. — JW

Rating: 3.75/5 Stars

 

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