Book reviews / Comics / Read Harder

Book review: America, Vol. 1: The Life and Times of America Chavez

This is another one of the Read Harder 2019 challenge completed. This time it’s number 21: a comic by an LGBTQIA. America was written  by Gabby Rivera, which I think makes this graphic novel fit the criteria!

I’ve come across America in both Captain Marvel and Young Avengers but this was her first stand alone series. Sadly, it had a pretty short run – just 12 issues.

In this incarnation, America is a lesbian Latina (well, technically she’s from the Utopian Parallel) and in search of her history. She’s also occasionally battling the Midas Corporation who invade her spring break as well as her campus. One of the main baddies was Exterminatrix, replete with BDSM puns and very interesting mode of dress.

I thought it was really good, but it seems to suffer from the same thing that makes me sometimes annoyed about Captain Marvel – that they can’t just have a sense of self and are always off searching. Both Captain Marvel and America are super strong and bad ass and yet they are always full of self-doubt and questioning. It’s a bit annoying, something that I don’t think shows up with Marvel male characters. The recent Hawkeye series gets the closest, but then it’s more about dealing with flaws than endlessly questioning yourself.

However, I think it was slightly better than some of the Captain Marvel canon, as America was looking for her people’s history (there’s like, a whole lot of history that I’m not going to explain, safe to say, she left and couldn’t get back easily). There was slightly less self doubt and more just searching for who she was. She also has a wonderful road trip/side quest with Kate Bishop (Hawkeye) which I just loved, what a great duo.

The other thing that slightly took me out of the story was the constant switching of art style. It felt like every couple issues there was an entirely new style, America looked different, the whole feel of the comic was different. None of them were bad, but sometimes a girl just wants some consistency, ya know?

Anyway, I’m a bit sad it only had 12 issues, it feels like it deserved more. I’m glad I got to read more about America’s back story, as she’s just been in the back ground of other stories for so long. Give it a go, especially if you’ve got Marvel Unlimited. I might go back and read some more Ultimates and Young Avengers now.

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