REVIEW: America #3 – “My Safe Word is ‘Thunderclap’”

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Writer: Gabby Rivera
Penciller: Joe Quinones with Stacey Lee
Colorist: José Villarubia with Jordan Gibson
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Rating: T
Price: $3.99
Release Date: 5/10/17


America is a series that is getting harder and harder to justify buying. Marvel did a tremendous job by seeking out a gay, Latinx writer to pen the series, but three books in and Gabby Rivera is still very much struggling to find a decent story to tell. Most of these books are a hodgepodge of two different stories going on at once and there doesn’t seem to be any continuity between the issues. For example, in the third issue of America, we’re told that Sotomayor University is located on a world between dimensions and “it’s pretty hard to get into.” Why is this important?

It means the previous invasion of the school by easily beaten robots makes little to no sense whatsoever. This is also the second time that America has gone back in time and had herself drawn into the era in which she appeared as though she were a part of that comic era. There comes a point where Americas place within the Marvel Universe deserves some real attention and treatment. These stories read more like 60’s-era Stan Lee and Steve Ditko books than anything written by Rivera or drawn by the America team.


Plot: America finds herself in the X-Men’s Danger Room, where Storm informs her that not only is she meant to be there, but that Storm can help her find her love, Lisa. America learns to grow her powers by undergoing training with Storm. Additionally, America discovers that her powers can lead to consequences in other dimensions and that a group of people are suffering every time she uses her powers. We also get a little backstory on how America came to acquire the language, idioms, and phrasings of so many different Latinx cultures. 

Story: The story was all over the place and often times made no sense whatsoever. There were times when I was trying to figure out if I missed something in a previous book or they just had yet to explain it in this universe. Rivera is still very much struggling to find a voice within the comic book world. Rivera is an outstanding story-teller, but sometimes that just doesn’t translate to comic cooks. A fine example of this is the newly-cancelled Black Panther and the Crew and World of Wakanda (though not officially cancelled, it longer appears on any of the Marvel solicitations. In essence, all that’s missing is the formal announcement).


At the current rate, it’s hard to see this book lasting much longer. Each issue is as poorly put together as the last, the stories often contradict things we’ve read in a previous issue, and the absurdity of a Fifth Element-named sorority acting as superheroes is more weird than it is enjoyable. The frustrating thing here is that I really want this book and this character to succeed, but I find myself wanting to cancel my subscription because I am always let down.  I also think it’s super cliché to make a character co-dependent on their ex-lover.    

Art: It’s really hard to judge Joe Quinones and Stacey Lee on their art because so much of it has been done in the style of older comics. America‘s first book saw her sent back in time to the 1940’s, where she punched Hitler. A lot of the second book was spent getting her home from the 40’s and now she’s off to the land of the X-Men, where even the cover is designed to look like a 1980’s era X-Men comic. Even Wolverine was wearing his vintage brown and yellow.


While the stories that go with the art haven’t been amazing, they did a much better job with the X-Men than they did with Peggy Carter, who almost looked like a bad cutout. There’s a familiar and noted look about the X-Men and it does improve the atmosphere of the book. It’s not enough to carry the book all the way to glory, but it is a pleasant surprise for readers who love nostalgia. Overall, Quinones and Lee did a solid job with the art in this book – it’s easily the best part.

Verdict: America is headed for cancellation with me. I’ve been trying to give Rivera an actual run by which to judge her, but they’ve hardly interconnected any of the story, so it’s impossible to tell when or if they are even going to do an arc. I spoke with a lot of people about this book and the opinions vary, but the one thing that most people agree upon is that the storytelling lacks imagination, moves too quickly, and doesn’t care about the reader. I’m likely to give up on America by book five if she doesn’t improve, others have already checked out. Where do you fall? Let me know in the comments.  — JW

Rating: 1.75/5 Stars


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